Frontier Dreams

Interlude: Prying Eyes
In Which Marks are not Forgotten

Tatati pulled her cloak tightly as she made the walk from Koka’s new medicine cabin to the village chief’s meeting. Apparently, one of the farscouts had found something, and they wanted Koka’s thoughts on it. Koka had become increasingly reclusive after his recovery, citing chronic pain from the amputation. Tatati suspected it was simply that he couldn’t stand the stares he received wherever he went at his lack of wings. She could hardly blame him, it was well into the warm season, and a full bodied cloak like she was wearing was clearly unnecessary. But she wished to avoid the looks just as much.

Skirting the main paths, she swept aside the cloth covering the doorway and entered into a room feeling much larger than it was for how few people were a part of this meeting. Chieftan Rango looked up from the table and saw her approach, his immediate understanding clear on his face. Tatati hoped this would be some trivial matter and she could recuse herself quickly. When the other elders parted to give her room, she spied what lay on the table and realized this was anything but trivial.

Splayed out on the table were several items she vaguely recognized. There were two curved pieces of metal that she thought the young human who had come to town had been seen placing on the feet of the pack animals. Beside them was a scrap of leather with a mangled buckle on one end and a case affixed to the other. And from the case had been pulled what to any eye was clearly a map. Or more accurately part of a map. Whatever had caused the case to come loose from its carrier had torn off a majority of the details. But what was there, even without fluency in their script, would decidedly narrow their search for this hidden village of medicine makers and earth tenders.

Rango explained to Tatati that he wished for her to go in Koka’s stead with the next farscouts, and granted her approval to make peaceful contact if the opportunity arose. Tatati gazed long and hard at the map, attempting to appear like she was memorizing it, or searching for some unnoticed detail. But in truth she was barely able to stand upright as her mind warred between crushing apprehension about spending that much time with other scouts, and renewed hope that her condition might be curable if they find them.

As she returned to the medicine tent, she was slightly surprised to see Koka outside waiting for her. When he saw her approach, he made a show of yelling at nearby kids that “My wings might be gone but if you put one more rock through my window, I’ll sting you just the same!” Tatati didn’t buy it for a second, but appreciated the gesture. As they walked inside past patient’s too sick or wounded to return to their own home just yet, she explained what Rango had revealed. Koka silently nodded and helped her pack for the trip. When she asked why he was bundling a long sleeved traveler’s robe instead of simple leathers, he turned and mused that perhaps the hidden village people would appreciate someone who wasn’t wearing armor to make the introductions. Tatati hugged the grumpy old wyvaran, ignoring his empty threats about old age and personal space.

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Interlude: Hangover
In Which We Look Elsewhere

Julius heaved. Or more accurately, the boat heaved. But the ramshackle sloop he’d chartered passage on had far more experience than he did on these open ocean waters, and if it was going to heave, clearly heaving was the thing to do and who was he to argue with it. His medical training told him it was a simple imbalance of internal fluids. His mixed elven blood told him he was above such displays. And his feet told him that despite the surroundings, they were firmly planted on solid wood. Sadly Julius could hear none of those internal monologues over his resounding headache.

The crew had celebrated in typical seafarer fashion after the harrowing battle with the sea monster by breaking open several barrels of rum. Julius, lost in the moment and excitement had joined right in. Too much it seemed. It was only now to his dismay he learned that of the bountiful and varied supplies they had purchased with their winnings from the “festival catch” had included not one single bean of coffee. At that moment he would have gladly traded his entire suture kit for even a lukewarm mug of java.

Sadly, that was not an option. Steeling himself against the sway, Julius went back below decks. his mercantile ability notwithstanding, his suture kit was sorely needed. The fight against the serpent had not been without injury. Nor for that matter had been the celebrations afterward. With a suppressed grin, Julius admitted the rag tag crew of the Chimera certainly weren’t what he expected.

At first he’d simply select the vessel that struck him least likely to ask questions about his destination or reason. But he quickly learned he was not the only person here who had that particular desire. And as it seemed his services were needed ere, perhaps he might see about staying on when next they make port. Provided they drastically reassess what constitutes vital provisions.

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Interlude: Mailcall
In Which We Peek Behind the Curtain

Dirk sat at his desk, grumbling at the apparently permanent source of paperwork that had become a depressingly significant portion of his day. Hearing the bell toll outside his window, he stood up, resolving to tackle it after he stretched his legs on the midday rounds. As he put his hat on and walked outside, he noticed a small cloud of dust on the road into town. Recalling what day it was, he headed out to greet the traveler. As usual, the carefree sound of whistling reached his ears before he could make out the driver.

Dirk didn’t recognize the whistler lass, a young one who must be new to this route. Judging by the parcels and packages adorning her cart, Leopold’s oddities had arrived in bulk. Dirk had no interest in those, Leopold had other channels he assumed if he wanted to bring questionable materials past his guard. What he searched for desperately was a package of unknown size or shape, but with a distinctive marking. His heart skipped a beat as he scanned twice and saw nothing, but he almost failed to hide his relief when she dismounted and he spied it strapped to the seat across from him, that same distinctive green twine.
After exchanging the usual pleasantries with the lass, granting her entry and lodging, Dirk plucked the small brown parcel from the seat. When she protested, he reassured her he knew who it was from, and where it was going. He was just as excited to receive it, and swore on his badge it would not be tampered with.

Drydia was behind the counter stacking clean glasses for the evening when Dirk walked in. Before he could say anything, she spied the parcel hanging from his fingers and shouted up the stairs for Louby to come down. The three of them eagerly gathered around a table before undoing the twine. Inside the straw packing lay a rusted pirate hook, encrusted with barnacles as well as a couple curiously purple sea shells. Dirk examined the curious hook while the worried parents eagerly read the exploits of their adventurous son. He didn’t pry overly much, but it would seem the wandering lizard warrior was an able mentor, if stubbornly brusque.

Drydia tenderly picked up the sea shells, and turned them over in her hands, wondering aloud if Abigail could make some earrings of them. Louby meanwhile pulled out a stool to reach above the bar and mount the hook on the wall of increasing oddities he’d received. The hook while noteworthy, was nothing compared to the three foot long barbed quill of some terrible beast his son had slain. So long as there were ears to listen in his bar, he promised himself he’d never stop telling his customers how proud he was of his son.

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Session 16
In Which the Open Road Beckons

As the party explored the strange gallery of mirrors, a growing feeling of dread consumed them. The scene playing out upon the animated glass mural seemed to imply that the “burning ones” mentioned in cryptic notes were the trapped souls of the Mahi-Tahi that had become entrapped in the Rentyllian family curse. Unlike the rest of the mirrors in the mansion, these held nothing but masses of hands clawing against the glass to get out. Therran became overwhelmed by the atmosphere and desperately tried to pick the lock, but they were sealed in and the door would not open.

As Waeslyn continued to stare at the moving stained glass landscape, he became increasingly hypnotized by the lights, and when he touched the point they were congregating at, the entire scene shattered outward. Along with the mirrors multitude of shards, the glass came together in the center of the room in the form of a towering ghostly titan.

The heroes sprang into action, and did battle with the angry Shattergeist. With every rapport of gunfire its attention was redirected to destroying the user of that most hated weapon in its eyes. The myriad surfaces of its body were in a state of constant flux reflecting the countless victims who had been slain by bullets, both colonial and Mahi-Tahi. The voices let out a terrible wail in unison, shaking the adventurers to their core, save Maarus who stood resolute in his determination to put these tortured spirits to rest.

The Shattergeist proved to be one of the most dangerous challenges the group had so far encountered on their journey. With each massive blow of it’s arms, jagged shards of glass tore at the intruders. Woomera exhausted her supply of thrown weapons and resolved to get in close to the monster, hoping her magical weapon would be more effective. After an initial shock that would have caused a malfunction save for his years of training, Waeslyn regained his composure and laid down suppressing fire from a distance. Maarus fanned the hammer of his blessed weapon, filling the screeching giant with holy shot. And Calder searched deep into the planes to call out to a spirit of light for help. The lantern archon’s illuminating presence weakened and disoriented the Shattergeist until it was finally brought crashing down.

Bloody, tired, and shaken, they witnessed the torches that had been burning with blood red light go out. In their smoke was dual representations of the many Mahi-Tahi whose souls had been held here. As they vanished, a blinding light consumed the group. They found themselves back at the entrance to the mansion, the doors to the outside world open to them. With relief and renewed energy, they all stepped back out into the sunlight, save one.

Therran had paused at the threshold, clearly unsure about proceeding. Waeslyn turned and Therran pointedly asked Waeslyn if it was by the wish of a Rentyllian that he leave the manor. As he stepped out, he revealed an old gunshot wound that faded into the light. As he took his first breath of fresh air in a long time, he fell to his knees and wept.

They returned weary but triumphant to the Rentyllian manor to inform Waeslyn’s father about what they had seen. He was not as startled as one might have expected, and instead set about trying to determine how to avert the issue repeating itself in the future. Woomera offered the services of a priest of MoeMare that she knew quite well, though admitted that contacting him may prove to be a daunting challenge in its own right.

As the party relaxed and restocked, they set about planning their next destination. The luxuries of city life were a poor substitute for the siren song of the open road. Plans were laid down for a possible stop over at a site to be built with both colonial and Mahi-Tahi citizens upon their return. And all too soon for his father’s tastes, Waeslyn and his fellow adventurers set off on the road once again, this time headed deep into the forest and one step closer to their dreams.

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Session 15
In Which the Darkness Comes to Light

As the party descended the second staircase, they once again emerged into winding corridors, much to their increasing dismay. They quickly arrived at a set of stairs more decorative in nature leading abruptly into the ceiling. Going around the curiosity, the party returned to a room they’d previously seen, the dining room, food still fresh upon the table. Confusion ensued as they were certain they had gone down two floors, and that some cruel trick of the manor was warping the building to torment them.

As they continued to wander the shifting halls, they were subjected to increasingly gruesome mockeries of life. Rugs that were as scabs covered wounds in the houses floor. Casks of aged wine held within them foul blood. Furniture was haphazardly and confusingly misused room after room. And as they pressed further inward, malevolent spirits began to hurl objects at them to deter them.

A particularly well locked door was unlocked by Therran to reveal a conference room, empty save for a fountain. Maarus’ keen eye spied something within the waters and he pulled out a small handheld glass. Calder’s examination revealed that the glass allowed the user to view invisible objects. An immediate test found a poltergeist hiding in the corner of the room; Woomera drove it off with her spear.

Once again a witching mirror was hidden around a corner and Calder fell prey to its enchanting powers. Caught in his reflection’s whims, he began to stab himself repeatedly until Woomera shattered the mirror. Calder seemed to have no recollection of what had occurred, and magically healed himself as the party pressed on.

A trophy room held each of their heads upon display, with golden filigree about the frame mounting Waeslyn’s head. Extremely disturbed by the morbid parody, the party made hasty exit from that room, save Calder. He stayed behind to see if there were any hidden treasures within his doppelganger, but found only dirt.

Past rooms containing increasingly poor choice of decor, the party entered into a room where everything had been affixed to the ceiling. Suspecting spirits at work, Woomera examined the room with the spirit glass and did in fact find a poltergeist perched upon a table suspended from the rafters. An extremely keen strike from her spear dispatched the foe, causing all the furniture to come crashing down at once. Thankful that they would not have to dodge any more tables, they pressed onward.

Next door, a statuary corridor awaited them. One statue in particular held a heart in its palm, and as the party tried to skirt past it, the heart seemed to resonate with those walking past. Gathering strength and life, it animated and assaulted the group. Taking heavy punishment with it’s marble form, it was finally stopped when it’s bloated heart was revealed inside its chest and a crack shot from Waeslyn destroyed it.

A bedside table lay at the end of a short hallway with a desperate warning scrawled on paper. The spirit glass revealed a hidden quill and ink, which the party tried to use to communicate with the force animating the objects. It dispensed cryptic warnings before running out of paper, only adding to the confusion.

Many windows were found as they wandered the bloody halls. Each of which seemed to be facing out of one of the towers on the corner of the house from the highest point, despite them having descended multiple flights of stairs. Breaking them destroyed the illusion and showed only brick and mortar behind them. Dashing hopes of an easy escape they began to ignore the windows fairly quickly.

Methodically reexamining rooms they had passed through before, they began to attempt to dismantle many of the enchantments presented to them. The ethereal musicians in the dance hall were silenced, causing the dancers to depart. The throne of thirsty boNes was doused in holy water, burning away the spirits within.

Once again the party came to the long dark hallway that they had seen before. Mustering every last ounce of courage, they moved down the ominous hallway. Behind an ornate door was a room dancing with reflected lights. Flanking an ornate stained glass window, two torches burned bright red. Marble statues stood at regular interval about the room holding up mirrors. An almost palpable dread washed over them as the door they had walked through slammed shut behind them.

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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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