Frontier Dreams

Sessions 13 & 14
In Which Nerves are on Edge

Session 13

The party boarded once again the Hugo II and was bound for dry land at last. Each of them spent they voyage contemplating what they had seen in the caves, or at least trying to distract themselves from doing exactly that. As before, time had been warped while they were in the lair of the dreamfolk, lasting almost a week in the rest of the world. As their ship pulled into the harbor at cape hope, it was apparent that it had been an eventful absence.

They returned to their lodgings, Calder again wishing to recuse himself from the spiritual discomfort of Waeslyn’s mansion chose a more modest inn. Waeslyn’s father had come to town on business but was overjoyed to see his son. He invited the entire group to the dining hall to meet the people his son was traveling with. After some social missteps regarding the Mahi-Tahi relations the talk inevitably turned to firearms as it often did in that house. Maarus’ exceptional skill was displayed and he again turned down the lucrative offer of abandoning the life of the sheriff.

Interrupting dinner late, Waeslyn’s elder brother and heir to the family titles burst into the room in disarray and had a hurried conversation with his father. It turned out that the spirit home constructed on the isolated hill near town had become increasingly disturbing of late. The first team of soothsayers had returned raving mad, the second team not at all. Despite tremendous personal apprehension, Waeslyn volunteered to investigate the disturbance in a more prepared fashion, bolstered by the support of his comrades.

Swelling with pride at his son’s bravery, he authorized the dispensation of Rentyllian assets to prepare for the excursion. As they went to market, the party set about outfitting themselves as they had not had a chance to in a long while spending time in the wild. And as they donned their new gear, wondered how long it would be before they again had the opportunity…

Session 14

The party began the somber journey up to the path. Calder still wrestling with whatever his personal preparations had entailed. The guards bid them entrance under orders to allow them in, but warned them that strange events had increased of late coming from that wicked mansion. A large oaken door gave them entrance in the early morning sunlight, but as soon as the last of them crossed the threshold, slammed shut behind them and would not open.

There was immediately a haunting event when the party encountered a mirror wherein their reflections were performing gruesome acts of self mutilation. Fortunately the party’s iron will resists the compulsion. Maarus did not wish to incur any further black marks on his luck and simply reversed the mirror so that it faced the wall. The hallways beyond began to wind in a confusing labyrinth, and Milvin suggested the use of chalk to track their way.

Brute force from Woomera forced open a door to what once may have been a portrait gallery. The once animate paintings had been savagely massacred, the subjects now unrecognizable. With great effort they removed the massive portraits from the wall to see what was behind them. The first four had grim caricatures of the subject drawn in what seemed to be blood. The last one held a safe with three key holes. Not having any of the necessary keys, they marked the site with chalk and the word SAFE before making a point to return later.

Back the way they had come, Waeslyn’s nerves began to get the better of them and a locked door was unlocked by a powerful rifle blast. Inside was a curious parody of a greenhouse. Plants that had been denied care and sunlight too long withered in piles of dirt atop an ornate carpet. Calder once again under the influences of forces unseen by his comrades , set about vainly trying to care for the plants. But in his attempts, he did find a rusty iron key.

Having come to the end of the path that they found in that direction they followed the chalk arrows back the way they had come to discover with dismay that they were not immune to the haunting effects of the manor. Waeslyn as a result abandoned their use as markers. As they entered an elaborate dining room, a stranger was found attempting to pick a lock on the opposite door. He revealed himself as Therran, and cryptically dodged most questions about his arrival here. Suspicious of his character, they party agreed that for the time being at least, his skill set might prove useful. Calder purified some extremely suspicious food and they ate to replenish energy before continuing onward.

A curiosity was found by Woomera in the form of a full bed affixed to the wall, the sheets squirming with life. When Calder moved to investigate, a mass of bedbugs, lice, and other minor parasites washed over him. In a disgusted panic Calder striped down and summoned a large spider to cleanse himself of the infestation. The key that fell to the ground was small reward for the ordeal he felt. Upon seeing the second in the set of keys the party remarked that they needed but one more. Therran offered that with those two already they might not need anymore having accepted his skills.

They returned to the portrait room, but Waeslyn was horrified to see the chalk writing had been replaced by the word DANGER. after using the first two keys, Therran was able to jimmy the final lock revealing a collection of bullets left there by someone expressly to combat ethereal foes. Collecting the suspicious gift, they pressed further into the mansion.

In a master bedroom with animal figures carved from hedgerows, the party was assaulted by a pack of dead and deranged hounds. With Maarus’ holy gun the pack stood no change against the party. In this room was found pointlessly the final key to the safe, lifted by force of mind from the hedge by Therran. Woomera’s suspicion of their tag along grew with this display. In the adjoining chamber, Calder collected some eclectic tomes while Maarus noted that the writing implement had ordered them to leave.

Rounding a corner, they spied a staircase leaded down deeper into the labyrinth. The halls continued to twist at the bottom, and Woomera examined their options. One hallway appeared to plunge deeper into darkness suspiciously straight, and they elected to continue investigating the winding corridors instead for the time being. The suspected remains of the second soothsaying party were found, having suffered a grisly fate. The throne in the same room enticed those near it to sit upon it, but magical examinations from Calder revealed what a painful decision that could be.

As the party entered into a grand ballroom, enchanted instruments were heard playing an eerie tune. Bloody footprints appeared and disappeared in time with the song, performing some sort of macabre dance. The party tried to skirt the edges of the dance floor, but Calder’s feet strayed onto the ornate tile, and a bloody partner invited him to join them. Fearing for his fate, Calder was able to resist the invitation and quickly lept from the dance floor.

After picking another lock and rounding another corner the party found themselves again with a choice of paths. Deciding that whatever event ultimately vexed this place was probably deeper within, they chose to descend even further into the haunted darkness, hoping that this would be what led to a swift escape from this maddening manor.

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Session 12
In Which Lines Are Drawn

Separated by the magical rings, the party traced back their steps in search of Calder. A doorway that had previously been barred by magical energy was now clear and they explored further that direction. A nightmare materialized before them and briefly communicated with them. Milvin volunteered to trade places with Calder and try to find his way back. They learned some interesting information about their foe, but the communication barrier made many of the answers unclear at best. Conversation quickly broke down however, and a fight broke out.

The towering figure attempted to incorporate traits from each of the group but only Woomera and Calder were copied. Emboldened by the confidence that their foe was a copycat at best, they made a truly impressive showing and easily put down the figure. Milvin meanwhile had been stumbling through the dark and become entangled by a hidden octopus. He was retrieved and they pressed further inwards.

As the water in the cave began to quickly rise, travel became more difficult. Waeslyn in particular began to stress the need for haste towards their objective. As before in the last ruin, they finally encountered the figures they had seen in dreams before. Despite the strange method by which they communicate, the party began to develop theories about just who or what they were.

As they retrieved the crystal the pendant displayed a rough map of the continent. Waeslyn guessed that the points may be other hidden ruins in the area, but the rising tide cut short musings on the subject. A hurried dash down flooding tunnels led them to a geyser spout up through the rock. Escaping by flight in the nick of time, they signaled the Hugo II to send a longboat and ferry them back to dry land after a harrowing adventure.

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Under the Waves, Part 1

From the Journal of Waeslyn the Widestepper

This journey has been harrowing in more than one regard. Luckily, the Alliance Navy was willing to provide us a means of transportation (for reasons I’m still not entirely clear on), but the waters are treacherous and the potential for death seems high. We scouted the oddly flat island pretty well, and found a familiar sensation near its center. Two by two, we were able to descend through the sand and end up in a cavern some ways beneath the ocean. I remain uncomfortable with the concept of drowning, and the pools of water her are doing little to assuage my fears.

We’ve encountered a few strange creatures already. Octopus as big as Woomera, touched by the taint of these ruins assailed us. I think I need to make some serious alterations to Cyhiraeth to make her work more effectively. I think I can alter her stock and ammunition load to take a rotating cartridge, much like would be found in a revolver, though I think it’d need to be in a smaller cartridge. I’m thinking I could make four, maybe five bullets work, though I’ll need to test a few different materials and shapes to make it all fit together…

A few sketches of possible alterations fill the margins.

The dream creatures have filled these caverns again, the stocky, nightmarish ones. I think we’re just calling them Nightmares now, though I think we can do better in terms of naming. They seem solid, perhaps a bit larger, and connected in strange ways that we don’t totally understand just yet. After dispatching them, and earning a few new scars to match those Manticore slashes from a couple weeks ago by now.

We did find an abandoned old chest with a skeleton. The chest was infernally jammed, though eventually it came open. There was a rather nice shield that I wouldn’t mind figuring out a use for, even if I don’t think I would wear it while firing Cyhiraeth. Upon finding a ring, however, Calder decided to activate the magic and switch places with its other wearer. Rather suddenly, another skeleton appeared as he vanished…

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Session 11
In Which Danger Lurks

As the oars beat the ocean pulling the longboat towards the shore, the party engaged in nervous chatter to offset the eerie feeling once again upon them. Iument paddled slowly behind. As the sailors made haste to return their longboat to the ship, the party set about exploring the sandy island they had been led to. As before, no sounds save the waves were heard. This perfectly round island had rings of sand like a giant tree stump. The closer they got to the center of the island, the more the ocean waves followed them. At the epicenter of the circles, surrounded on all sides by encroaching water, the party once again shifted through the rock downward into the abyss.

They found themselves in a winding tunnel opening to a labyrinth of caves encrusted with barnacles and stagnant sea life. Milvin, clearly unaccustomed to the experience was more affected by the transition than the others. They spread out to explore the dripping caverns amid a growing sense of unease. Calder spied a dark pool of water down a side tunnel and moved to investigate. A dark tentacle shot out of the water and wrapped around him, as a gigantic octopus pulled itself out of the water to attack. The party rushed to his aide, but a second octopus appeared from behind, surrounding them. The ruined creatures black bodies glowed with strange light when they grabbed a victim. Milvin’s lucky javelin throw caused him to get a jet of ink to the eyes, but they were able to quickly free Calder from the tentacles .

Upon the ruined monsters demise, a familiar magical tether woound itself from the corpse to a nearby archway, dispelling the arcane energies within. The pressed further inwards, this time with Waeslyn leading the way. The sight of a familiar figure retreating into the darkness kept them on their toes, but as they chased it, the stange nightmares sprung a trap, encircling the party and pressing them back to back. Milvin was quite unprepared for the attack, and could only put himself between the foes and Calder. Woomera and Maarus dealt out serious wounds, and Calder’s summoned companion evened the odds. After a vicious melee, they fended off the assault, noting with serious concern that the previously wispy forms were now quite solidly real.

Emboldened by the second victory, Calder set out to find treasure he was convinced was nearby. The party followed him to find a skeleton, clearly sat here for some time resting against a treasure chest. After repeated failed attempts to open the chest using conventional means, Woomera in frustration hurled it againts the wall, breaking it open and spewing coins about the cave floor. Calder retrieved the box, placed some of his own treasure inside, and replaced it alongside the skeletal guard. The magical shield was too small for Maarus, but Calder was quite interested in the ring. Before anyone could stop him, Calder placed the ring on his finger and vanished. In his place another skeleton appeared and collapsed to the ground

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Session 10
In Which Sail is Set

The party met that evening at the dockside tavern, the Singing Waves. Nylah Elminsel spoke with the party and offered the services of her crew for their endeavor. She made it plainly clear she was not an official vessel of any organization, and instead operated independently. However, concerns about her character prevented the party from seriously considering her offer.

The group returned to their respective lodgings for the night to weigh the options. The three who slept in the Rentyllian manor agreed that the Naval Reserve’s H.A.V Hugo II was the safer choice. Calder chose to once again spent the night at a local inn and sent a messenger indicating he would prefer the private vessel. After a startling appearance by Woomera, he was recalled to defend his choice. But in the end numbers won out and the Hugo was selected as the vessel of choice.

The captain was extremely surprised to see two horses and a giant lizard attempting to board his ship, as Calder had conveniently omitted their involvement in the holy quest the captain believed he was aiding. With some hasty shifting of cargo, space was made and the beasts loaded into the hold. Aside the lack of dietary variety by a thrifty quartermaster, the voyage north was largely uneventful. As the Hugo II moored off the coast of the Three Kings, the party boarded a rowboat and made their way to shallow waters.

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To the Waves

From the Journal of Waeslyn the Widestepper, entry undated

Well we’ve spent a couple days at the Cape Hope manor house after a trying few days in the Fork Tongue village that I can’t spell. Kohaughty-Tengah, I think? I might see if Woomera can give me some language lessons in the native tongue. We once again couldn’t save everyone in their village, but at least killed a Manticore for them. Milvan sure came through in that fight, and dealt the death-blow to the creature that nearly ripped my guts out. I’ll see about putting some funds toward getting him something to commemorate the event. I sure will be keeping one of those claws to make a necklace, and we kept a few Manitcore spines that could be fashioned into spears, or perhaps bayonets? I’ve run the idea by Uncle, but he’s not overly interested. I’ll keep a spine and try my hand at working it myself along the way. In fact, the idea of a non-metal firearm to craft an entire firearm could be a fun project along the way…

Roughly a half dozen pages of potential creature parts to use and ways to sculpt them follow. It is clear this idea is filling Waeslyn’s mind to a significant degree

Oh, we also are booking passage to the islands finally. We’re figuring out a few potential ships, but it looks like an Alliance military vessel will be carrying us. It’s a lucky break, and I’ll hopefully get a chance to talk to the crew to hear what’s new on the homeward front. Regardless, I need a chance to move away from town, family is always such a grating process. I wonder if Dilliak is travelling with Father or not, I’d like to hear how he is lately. I hope our friend the physician is able to find peace in a smaller village. We’ve been back just a short time, and already the lace has begun to chafe.

I wonder what the tensile strength of Bullette bone is… Shorthand calculations fill several charts on the next page, with a frustrated few inkblots after a supposition that it is severely weaker than steel, and likely too fragile for a gun barrel.

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Session 9
In Which Passage is Booked

The party returned triumphant to Kowiringa, with the head of the Manticore as a trophy. Chief Rango thanked them for their efforts in service to the Mahi-Tahi. In their absence, the decision had been made to cleanse the healer’s hut of greenrot with fire, and the survivors watched from the sidelines, recovering from their illness. Before the party departed, they once again urged the necessity of diplomacy over force when attempting to locate the nearby hidden village and its stores of special plants. And the party also learned that the Mahi-Tahi quite enjoy the new and rare taste of bacon.

Upon their return to the city, Waeslyn made it plainly clear that returning to the Rentyllian estate was not his utmost desire. They spoke with an elder whistler about the developments in Kowiringa, and laid the foundation for regular contact between the groups. They stopped by the clinic where they had delivered the medicine to learn that the disease had run its course, with patients either being released or deceased without any further cases appearing. Many of them were unaccustomed to the sheer density of people that lived in Cape Hope, a stark difference from the peace and quiet of the open road.

Exhausting their list of distractions, they finally made their way to the Rentyllian estate, where they were eagerly welcomed. Dinner was had with Waeslyn’s uncle who was amused by Waeslyn’s native companion, and impressed by Maarus’ expertly crafted revolver. Rooms were arranged for their guests, with Woomera being guaranteed an eastern room. Calder, recalling his woes last time he spent time in the mansion, elected to sneak out and stay at a local inn instead.

The next morning the part set off towards the docks to find passage towards the island their cryptic vision had pointed towards. Three vessels appeared to have what they needed to complete the journey, and they concluded each should be investigated in turn.

First was the Chimera, a cutter with extensive modifications. The captain wanted to meet all her potential passengers before committing to the venture, and organized a meeting later that evening at a dockside dive. Maarus especially expressed concern regarding this vessel suspecting them of piracy.

Second was the Hugo II, a stout fishing vessel captained by a salty dwarf. They were clearly preparing for a large haul, and stated in no uncertain terms their price. The party quickly agreed that what they were asking was unseasonably high, and decided to look elsewhere.

Third was the H.A.V. Indomitable. This well armed galleon was crewed by Horizon Alliance reserves in defense of the nation. Initially unwilling to donate his services to the party’s venture with a large oceanic event on the calendar, the captain was swayed by Calder’s silver tongue. Calder had convinced the captain that they were on a church sanctioned holy mission to eradicate a great evil. Believing that his ship was obligated to serve such an endeavor, he quickly settled a steeply discounted price and ordered his crew to make ready to sail.

Unless the mysterious captain of the Chimera made them a better offer that evening, they planned to sail at first light north towards the isles they dreamt of.

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Session 8
In Which Reunions are Eventful

Calder and Waeslyn moved south from Cape Hope with great haste. Before too long, they came upon the unmistakable tracks left by their companions and the wagon, making track very simple. Aside from some rainy patches, they were able to follow the tracks towards Kowiringa. They were getting close to where they guessed the village might be when a roving scout made contact and guided them the rest of the way to the village.

Calder was able to speak with the chieftain and was directed to the quarantined cabin while Waeslyn made for the wagon to check on their supplies and Milvin. Milvin had been making attempts at communicating with the locals, having only minimal success not speaking the language. He did deduce that the Mahi-Tahi quite enjoy the taste of pig meat.

Calder arrived at the shaman’s hut and was ushered inside wearing a hastily constructed isolation garment. The shaman was slowly regaining his mobility, but his students had taken a steep decline in health. After preparation, Calder did his best to ease their condition without any more of the specialized medicine.

They met with the village chief once again who had informed them there was to be no official punishment for the killing of the expedition, in light of recent events. That said, he did not think that they would be truly welcome in town for some time. The adventurers offered to attempt to locate the hidden village that produced the root, but had no idea how long that would take. The village chief offered an alternative task that could be accomplished more quickly, and asked that they trust them to locate the village on their own and make the proper decision.

They learned of a nearby evacuation system of caves the town fled to in times of flooding. Recently a mighty beast had taken up lairing there and needed to be driven out. Significant wildlands expertise determined that the beast in question was most likely a manticore. They planned to strike at dawn when it would hopefully be asleep.

Waeslyn and Calder entered the cave to scout for the beast. They were greeted by an arrogant roaring voice from the darkness, which Calder conversed with while Waeslyn snuck further inside. Calder convinced the monster he would return shortly with food and exited the cave. He told his companions to wait for the signal, which would be Waeslyn’s opening shot. Soon enough Waeslyn spied the beast and let loose with his rifle. As the manticore took flight, the rest rushed into the cave. It whipped spikes from its tail and made to circle the grounded opponents. But Calder’s summoning of a giant spider created a web that entangled its wings and brought it crashing down. As the group surrounded the beast it fought savagely but could not fend off the onslaught. Taking advantage of the distraction offered by the boom of gunfire, Milvin was able to get behind the beast with his borrowed longspear to deliver the blow that incapacitated it.

They searched the cave and found the remains of an adventurer who had not fared so well. Woomera saw to it that he was cremated honorably. Reunited, and flush with victory, the party returned to Kowiringa with a trophy of their hunt.

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Session 7.2
In Which the Old and Young are at Odds

Maarus and Woomera departed the next morning headed straight south with the wagon and most of their supplies. Rain briefly hampered their progress, but the trail was open and game was plentiful. Milvin tok his share of watch duty in this unfamiliar land at night so neither of them was overly exhausted during travel in the morning. After more than a week of hard travel, they slowly began to realize they were not alone. Woomera made contact with a roving scout party from the village who escorted them the rest of the way to their destination.

At the entrance to the marsh village, the group was met by the elderly chief Rango, whom they quickly explained the situation to. Woomera made no secret of the fact that she had killed the warriors sent to retrieve the medicine, but also made it clear she had accomplished their mission, if only in part. Judgement was forestalled for the moment in favor of getting the medicine to the sick. Woomera and Maarus were escorted to a quarantined cabin on the outskirts of the village, while Milvin was left to tend to the cart.

Inside the cabin, they were assaulted by the smell of flesh left to rot for days. The village shaman lay on the brink of death from greenrot, both his apprentices trying and failing to treat him. Having received timely instructions from Calder, they determined that they had not enough medicine to treat all three of them. The students argued that the medicine should be spent entirely upon the shaman, and that he could always take on new students. Although they did confess that were he conscious he would have vehemently argued for the opposite.

Maarus and Woomera chose to use the medicine on Koka, the shaman. Maarus made for an excellent physician between his training and divine immunity to disease. He did determine that even were the disease to be cured, the wings were too far gone and had to be amputated. While they treated him, the pair learned that one of the apprentices was the mate to the lizardfolk who had led the expedition north.

They did what they could with what they had, and spent their time mostly contained inside the cabin until the arrive of their friends, some days later.

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Haunting

From the journal of Waeslyn the Widestepper, entry undated. Handwriting is uncharacteristically sloppy, revealing a haste in the hand.

Getting back on the road tomorrow morning, fast as possible. Uncle Hovvin and Aunt Lidania were at the summer home, so there was plenty of reason to get supplied and geared up. Auntie was in a bad sort, but she’s bought into Gradmammie’s paranoia about cosmic retribution and all that. But what Dr. Julius Merienstar said it was because she though Cousin Boldarnum was ill with the Limepox outbreak. I’m glad Papa wasn’t there, as that could have gotten thornier. Dr. Merienstar seems to be villainized for the fact that he hasn’t been able to save everyone; a situation I don’t envy. We delivered the medicine only to find out that there was enough to save five of the ten ill children in the one vial. At his request, we assisted in the process of selecting which children would have the best chance of survival. Pressure like that reminded me why I turned down the command position. He ultimately seemed to take my advice, and to give the medicine to those most likely to pull through, while making the others as comfortable as possible. I don’t envy his position. That plague-ridden quarantine zone, the angry mobs being held back by guards, the suffering children… those images will haunt me for a long time. Luckily Dr. Merienstar provided us some invaluable information about how to dilute and apply the medicine, as well as the name of the root it comes from. Sadly, it is cultivated by some nomads who prefer to go unnamed and unnoticed in this whole process, so while we can’t help the Mahi-Tahi find the root, they can at least know what to do with it when they get it.

Calder did the oddest thing in all this; to my knowledge he had no medical training. He was a temple-minder’s son. Yet after showering for… far longer than a shower should take, he seemed like a totally different person. There was a calculation, precision, even coldness in his voice. It unsettled me, to be honest. We purchased an extra horse to speed the process of the return trip, and I resupplied what the help could offer. We also took the papers and materials from Craughon’s wagon back to the Whistlers. They let us keep the boots and haversack in thanks, and helped us secure a means of transmitting the message about the preparation and application of the drug to Woomera and Maarus.

Dr. Merienstar mentioned that the outbreak happened with some tainted goods that were deliv-

Here the handwriting speeds up rapidly, becoming near illegible at points. Gnomish glyphs are interwoven with dwarven runes for figures and a crude attempt at a map with markers for distances estimated

Weren’t the Forktongues infected by a delivery of goods that they mentioned? Remember to check with Woomera. If the disease onset is roughly equivalent and I have the numbers from Dr. Merienstar’s notes in my mind properly, then I can perhaps figure out where the supplies were coming from. By the Eight, hopefully this is a freak accident and there aren’t more tainted supplies being spread across Dawn Haven.

Several days pass without a written entry after this. The next five pages, front and back, contain the sketched faces of smiling children, one human, two dwarves, two gnomes, four half-elves, and one elf. Five of them have the phrase “Find Peace in the Eight” scratched on the corner in a trembling hand. The elven child is one such marked figure.

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