12.17.11 IRL, Iaram 14, 8912 IG.
The Tulip had six weeks in Baffram, with associated hijinks, acquiring his war donkey and cannon in the meantime. The adventure began as he arrived on Pembriss island, looking to consult with the Pembriss Scholars, an elven enclave that was sure to have more information on the Senchilian Elvenforge’s layout and possible defenses that may have survived the Elvenforge being taken over as a dragon lair 450 years ago.
He led his war donkey out to the massive fortress (Ischiala Kelvaes, the Fortress of Pages), noting the round doors along the base of the wall and wondering what they were for. He had a brief and unsatisfying conversation with the impolite door guard, who suggested he could not enter without a recommendation from a reputable scholar—a recommendation he did not have and did not realize he needed. Irritated and broke, Tulip trudged back towards the port.
On the outskirts of town he passed the Searing Suds tavern, where Vayu was morosely nursing a drink and thinking unkind thoughts about the Pembriss Scholars. Vayu flagged Tulip down, noting he had an unsatisfying encounter with the scholars, and finding out that he was looking for a scholar with some knowledge of an elven location in the area.
Well, Vayu’s friend Harvin Ashook was a former Pembriss scholar who was ejected from the order and imprisoned for helping Vayu on the side, doing some research for him. It rankled Vayu that he felt responsible for his friend being in prison, and he wanted to break him out.
Vayu didn’t know much about where Ashook was being held, except that it was an amphibious prison named Gulldaw guarded by elves, big eels, and crabs, and roughly the area. But he had a small boat, and a plan; go to Khorhuuk Island a few days sailing away, defeat the leader of the Axefall Pirates, and use their ship to conduct the rescue! Not much of a plan, but… he didn’t have a better idea.
Tulip agreed to help out. Not knowing how to sail, they hired Mr. Peg, a long-time sailor with a peg leg, to sail them to the island and look after the boat (and donkey, Saffron Petal,) while they explored how best to suborn the pirates.
After a four day voyage, they set foot on the strangely shaped island. Tulip And Vayu hiked along the beach, then climbed up into the jungle and around to the pirate camp where lizard men celebrated a recent victory. The jungle was thick with territorial owl-monkeys, and snakes, and big pteradons circled lazily over the tree canopy watching for careless food.
Closer to the pirates, Tulip and Vayu saw a kiskov (minotaur bison), an elven woman (looked like a cleric of Thogro, the sea god), and about a hundred reptillian pirates (Shokoro) celebrating and eating dolphin and tuna on the beach, with the Axefall (a captured elven galley) at anchor in the bay.
Tulip brazenly approached, telling them he wanted the ship and crew for a jailbreak. The kiskov captain (Boomcrusher) ordered ten of the crew to jump him, and Tulip handily smacked them down. Tulip played the hissing crowd, and maneuvered the kiskov into single combat to decide if the pirates would help or not.
So the elven woman drew a circle in the sand with her staff, and the two massive muscled monsters wrestled, human gladiator pitting his sinews and thews against the authoritative monstrosity of the kiskov’s depthless strength. Tulip tossed the kiskov out twice, then was tossed out himself once, then flung the kiskov out of the ring for final victory!
The captain left in a huff, and the lizards set about redoubling their celebration. Vayu followed the elven woman (her name was Geshinara) out into the jungle to where she slept, and proposed she help them. She agreed to help, still feeling conflicted, for 500 gold. Vayu agreed.
The next day they picked up their little boat, Mr. Peg, and Saffron Petal the war donkey, and set sail. After an 8 day voyage, they closed in on the amphibious prison, Gulldaw.
Geshinara of Thogro had explained on the voyage that the prison was a vast undead turtle, 120 meters long, with a fortress on its back. The only entrance and exit was the mouth. The regenerating necrotic matter of the interior of the turtle was shaped, cut, and arranged to form a multi-storey prison, occupied by crabs the size of dinner tables and eels the size of a man that squirmed through it. You had to really annoy the Pembriss Scholars to get sent to this prison.
They fashioned a desperate plan; sail up behind it (easy enough, as it left bobbing chunks of dead turtleflesh, the sharks swarmed around it and ate it, and some of them became undead in turn) and they could follow the stinking swathe of corruption to easily catch the slow-moving prison.
Once behind it and too close for the ballista from the fortress on its back to hit them, Tulip would use his cannon to blow a hole in the meat of the hindquarters between the shell and plastron, and they could make their way into it. Then, find Ashook, don’t get bogged down in battle with elven guards, crabs, and eels, and escape.
They got behind the turtle, sporting a few new ballista spear decorations on the galley, then they managed to climb a cable they fired up to the turtle butt, and Tulip… well, he fired the cannon into the undead meet of the turtle’s backside, and blew a hole big enough for them to… to wriggle in.
We will gloss over the horrific details of the journey through the turtle’s interior. They found an elf guard who they interrogated, and they found Ashook’s cell, rescued him, and pushed out a plate on the back shell that was loosened so they could dump waste out. The three reptilian pirates leaped to the water, smacking down and finding sharks; one made it back.
Both the wizard and the scholar (as well as the cannon) hung from the mighty Tulip as he climbed along the shell, then slid down the back in a hail of arrows, catching on at the last moment to dangle over a dizzying drop to the sea.
Spotting him, the elven cleric used her wind powers and swung the mast around so the two smaller men fell on the belled out sail and slid down to only smack down on the deck with some force. Tulip fell harder, but could take it; the ship heeled about and fled, the jailbreak complete.
On the way back, Tulip cut Vayu into the treasure hunt, as well as Geshinara and Ashook. The four of them began to think through how best to take the next steps, taking full advantage of the lore that Ashook offered.
They had to return to their base because they lost 25 of the 50 Shokoro pirates they sailed with, and they needed more. They extensively discussed their next move. Upon landing on the island, Tulip decided they also would need more ships, and that meant a captain could be useful. He and Vayu decided to go looking for Boomcrusher, the kiskov captain.
Vayu made a rock monster, and they followed the monster as it plowed through the vines and brush of the jungle. They found the kiskov’s tracks by fresh water, and followed the trail to a camp site. He was wounded, and wary. They explained he could have his crew back, and they suggested he join them on the treasure hunt.
He explained he had been hunted by a beastmaster sent by the Pembriss Scholars, fighting monsters and beasts sent into his camp every night. After a brief discussion, they agreed it was in everyone’s best interests to find the beastmaster and stop him to death.
They spotted him flying a pteradon with his hair flowing in the wind, and they followed him to a cliff face where the pteradon entered a cave halfway up the 60 meter cliff. They decided to take him there, where he would be feeling safest.
Vayu sent his rock monster some distance away to cause a ruckus randomly chucking boulders. Not long after, a little bird flew to the beastmaster and told him. The beastmaster flew out to investigate, and they climbed down the rock face to his cave; Vayu rode on Tulip’s back for the difficult climb, but the kiskov, used to sailing and mining, was a skilled and powerful climber.
They found the neat little camp the beastmaster set up in his cave. Apparently, he had been sending messages tied to bird legs to Pembriss with information on his investigations, and the movements of Tulip (which by now were connected to the jail break.) Vayu made himself a stone guardian out of loose boulders, to help out, and they waited…
After dark, the beastmaster returned; or, at least, a pteradon did. Tulip couldn’t see the beastmaster, but decided not to wait. He fired the cannon in the deafening confined space of the cave, pulping the pteradon; the beastmaster hucked a hatchet at him and leaped out into space, calling for his pteradon brothers to catch him!
Two failed rolls later, he landed 30 meters down with a bit of a splat.
They spent the night in the cave, and climbed down the next morning to make sure he didn’t make it. They found his corpse, and the pteradon, and they were attacked by a bog octopus, the dreaded devilfish!
A cannon shot blew a big chunk out of the devilfish, but it perversely continued to fight until they waded out into the bog with it and struck it repeatedly with their weapons. By that time, local scavengers were gaining courage, with all those corpses around, so they climbed back out.
They returned to their camp to plan out their next moves…