Natural Disasters

In which the party effects a rescue (or two) and returns to Hell

After our battle with the crew of the Night Runner, we look through the captain’s desk and find 2 silent lock picks, thieves’ tools, a poisoner’s kit and a map case. In the map case, there is a map of the open sea and Gloomwrought’s coastline, as well as 25,500 gold, which we divide evenly.

Meanwhile, we discuss what should be done about the Necromancer, the captain, and the fiend’s breath. The Necromancer wants us to let him go, but we decide instead to try and get his help destroying the fiend’s breath. After some negotiation—during which time we stabilize the captain’s condition—we come to terms with the Necromancer. He agrees to remove the arcane protection on the fiend’s breath and we won’t kill him or endanger him with the Borderlanders now that he’s a turncoat.

We then take the Necromancer down to the hold and he removes the arcane protection on the fiend’s breath. After that, we begin the process of destroying the boxes, something that promises to take some time. Time which we may not have, given the condition of the Nobletide.

As some of us dump the fiend’s breath over the side of the ship, we also try and plan how to save the Addis Kadal and Ulaan Tenebre aboard the Nobletide. A few of us decide to continue disposing of the cargo while the rest of us—with assistance from the Necromancer and Daren—pilot the ship over to the Nobletide.

Now that we’re closer, we can see just how bad off the Nobletide is. The ship is absolutely wrecked; the rock it’s stuck on is keeping it from sinking, but the ship itself has basically broken in half and looks completely unstable. We’re also able to see a rope that comes from the ship and goes into the water, but we’re not able to see if there’s anything attached to it.

As we’re trying to decide how to approach the wreck, the Night Runner rocks and heaves. Targoth is knocked off the ship, but his new wings keep him from plunging into the sea and he flies back onto the deck.

Eben and the Necromancer, still working on disposing of the fiend’s breath, are unable to keep their feet. They crash into some of the cargo and vials begin to spill, causing cracks and noxious fumes.

The shaking goes on for some time; there is also a distant rumble, like the sound of buildings collapsing. After minutes, the shaking stops and everything is very quiet.

Daren claims that the ship is not the cause of what we just experienced. The shaking has caused the Nobletide to sink further and become more unstable, so we realize that we don’t have time to waste. We all agree to row over to the Nobletide—save Daren, who remains aboard the Night Runner—to rescue Addis and Ulaan.

Once we’re within range, we have to decide how to get aboard the wreck. Targoth flies and Jack jumps, which for him is almost like flying. Eben attempts to jump with a rope as a guide line, but he still falls into the water and is forced to try and swim to the wreck. The Necromancer tries to jump over, but he also falls into the water. I react to pull him out and he asks me why I saved him.

My response is that I saved him because he was drowning, which seems to shock him. I then tie the rope and the Necromancer is able to swim across to the wreck. Aideena then feysteps over to the wreck with me. Once we’re all over to the Nobletide, we tie it to the rowboat so we have a way back to the Night Runner.

We make our way towards a grate in the deck to see if we can find where the kidnapped boys are. I’m able to make my way up there, looking down to see a sleeping berth. Tied to the mast on the lower deck are two teenagers, the young men that we’re looking for. The tiefling appears to be conscious, but the other is not. From what I can see, they are the only two down below.

Jack is able to reach me and I point out the teenagers to him. I’m leaning over a stable area of the grate, but when Jack reaches me, his grate starts to loosen. I’m able to grab him and keep him from falling, and allow him to use me to climb into the stairwell to begin the climb down to the kidnapped teens. The staircase is at an acute angle, making the climb difficult even for him, but he reaches the next deck down eventually.

We call out to the two boys and the tiefling says that the rope that’s tying the boys to the mast is holding the ship up. If we cut the rope, the whole thing will sink. For obvious reasons, this presents a challenge.

Aideena climbs up towards the mast and is able to see down, so we decide that it would be best to just teleport the boys out. She’s able to do this and the tiefling, who is conscious, is fine, but the unconscious boy slips into the sea.

As this happens, we’re attacked by skeletons.

The unconscious boy is dead—killed because we were unable to save him from drowning—but the tiefling remains alive but injured. After we dispose of the skeletons, we make for the rowboat and begin the trip back to the Night Runner. We do manage to rescue the dead boy’s body and there’s talk of attempting to bring him back to life.

As we row towards the Night Runner, the water level begins to sink, as if the plug has been pulled from the bathtub. It’s very sudden and worrying.

We make it back to the Night Runner and climb up the ropes to the deck. Just as we’re in the process of getting back on the ship, we hear a loud roar and see a huge wall of black water heading towards us. We have about a second to brace ourselves before we’re slammed by the sea.

Targoth barely keeps himself from falling into the water by flying, but the Necromancer, Eben and I aren’t so lucky. My grip on the corpse is lost as I’m swept off the deck and into the sea, underwater and confused. Eben suffers the same fate and, unfortunately for us, neither of us are able to get our heads above water right away. We lose touch with the Night Runner, and are carried along underwater and down.

The Necromancer is also swept away and presumably drowns as a result of his poor swimming ability.

Jack, at the moment that the water hits, is able to push the tiefling we’ve just rescued onto the deck, causing Jack himself to be swept overboard. The difference with him, though, is that he’s able to swim back to the ship and hold on as it’s swept over the seawall and into Gloomwrought’s port.

The Night Runner rides the wave towards the shore, at such a speed and by such a force that the ship is nearly uncontrollable. Daren does his best, but everyone who has managed to remain with the ship is holding on for their lives.

Eventually, the boat gets stuck between two buildings and those who remain on the Night Runner can hear an ominous cracking sound. The bottom of the ship is totally gone and the rest of the ship is threatening to disintegrate under the continuous surge of water.

Jack, Aideena, Daren, Addis, and Targoth are able to make it to safety on the roof of one of the buildings.

Meanwhile, Eben and I are carried into the sewers, where we’re finally able to get out of the water before either of us drowns.

As we make our way through the sewers trying to find a way above ground and to locate the others, we are attacked by swarms of snakes that are out of the ordinary. As there are only two of us, and neither of us is particularly good against swarms, we’re doing our best not to get ourselves killed.

While this is going on, the rest of the party has figured out that Eben and I were swept into the sewers. They make their way to the sea wall and manage to get a little lost thanks to the destruction that Gloomwrought underwent when the tsunami came ashore, but they are finally able to locate us and help us finish off the snakes.

After that, we decide to head to House Kadal through the sewers. Once we arrive, Addis is recognized by the house guards and we’re all ushered into a large antechamber where Lord Kadal greets his son and is thankful for his return. He tells us that he’s in our debt. Addis informs his father that we weren’t able to save Ulaan because he was swept away in the tsunami. We ask Lord Kadal if he knows anything about what happened, but he tells us he’s never seen anything like it before and has no idea what it might be.

Everyone is sorry that Ulaan died and we decide that we need to figure out what caused that earthquake and tsunami. He offers us a place to stay for the night and protection in a way. The fact that we were able to save Addis and not Ulaan will make Lady Selisse angry and intensify the rivalry and enmity that already exists between her and Lord Kadal. Nevertheless, he will send a messenger to her with the bad news. Perhaps worst of all is that we still have no idea who actually kidnapped the two teens.

The best working theory we have is that it might have been House Carradh. They would stand the most to gain from the Houses ahead of them in prestige suffering the fates of their heirs kidnapped and killed. There is also rumor that Lord Carradh had the lover of one of his sons murdered.

Addis is able to at least tell us that it was a trap. He only remembers waking up tied to the mast.

We also discover that the Nobletide wasn’t a new wreck; it had been there for 5 or 6 years and was stable. This tells us that it was purposefully destabilized. All of this information leads Lord Kadal to decide that the Hells are safer for Addis than Gloomwrought. Since we were hoping to go there anyway, we ask for his help in getting into the Hells and he agrees to open the portal for us to come with him.

Lord Kadal then gives each of us an astral diamond to show his gratitude and offers us further treasure to help stop the production of fiend’s breath. As this is one of our goals already, we have no trouble agreeing to this. His gratitude extends to helping us gather supplies for our trip into the Hells, asking us for anything we need and he will see about getting it for us.

We’re then each shown to our own rooms for the night.

Daren tells us that he won’t be making the trip with us into the Hells.

Jack asks why not and Daren says that he feels he needs to get back to what’s happening with the rest of the halflings. I try to determine if Daren is being honest since we know that someone we know is a mole and has been feeding our locations and activities to the Borderlanders. From what I can tell, he is. Jack tells Daren that if Daren has to leave then he should and Daren is torn, but he has already risked a lot to come this far with us and he has other responsibilities.

Jack and Daren then head to their room to get it on.

At this point, Aideena and I pull Targoth aside and tell him that we still have to talk about another issue—the fact that the Borderlanders knew we were in Gloomwrought.

Targoth opines that perhaps someone is spying on us through some method of scrying. He also thinks it could be treachery, but there could be another shapeshifter.

Aideena says that the party needs to make sure it’s not one of the three people we’ve trusted—Daren, Solange, or Saresh. She doesn’t want to believe it of any of them, but we need to be certain to rule them out.

They both know that there are a number of methods that scrying is possible. All but the most powerful require an item as a focus.

Aideena says that, even though scrying is a distinct possibility, we still need to rule out a mole. Her idea is to tell each person a different lie to see which piece of information makes it back to the Borderlanders.

Targoth cautions her that we don’t want to alienate anyone if they aren’t in league with the Borderlanders and wonders if it would be possible to determine what might be a scrying focus. His opinion is that, if we can rule that out first, we should. He has a spell that can detect that; all we need to do is test our things.

I volunteer to have my items checked first. I am reluctant to have the Ring of the Brotherhood tested but when all of my items—save the diary found in Tas Tarsel, which Targoth is fairly certain is not a focus—come up cleanly, I reluctantly offer up the ring to be tested. There is an arcane signature, but Targoth is fairly certain that is not the focus.

This is a huge relief for me.

Eben goes next and, while the throwing shield feels odd, Targoth determines it is not being used as a focus.

There is nothing unusual in Aideena’s items and so we turn to Targoth’s items. The only one that has an unusual signature is an amulet. Aideena is able to pick up a filament that leads away and is highly suspicious. Targoth doesn’t trust the amulet now and is willing to part with it. He proposes that there are ways to reverse scrying—that is, to spy on the people who are spying on us—but we’re not able to do it.

Since we’re unable to reverse the flow, we use a ritual to nullify the focus, rendering it safe.

The next morning, Jack finds a new feather, which feels familial.

When we reconvene, Addis greets us and we all prepare for our journey. He tells us that the first of the Nine Hells is a burning desert on a planet in the Astral Sea. He takes us down to the lower levels of the house and tells us more about the place. From what he says, it’s dotted with fortresses and ruled by Bel, who rules through the power of his lieutenants.

Addis also tells us that we’ll need tracers to find who we’re looking for.

Once we’re down to the lowest level, the doors open at Addis’s touch. Inside, we see a ring. We ask Addis how we’ll return and he says that the portal will open at darkness. All we need to do is get back to the spot it leaves us at.

This sounds far too easy.

The portal to the first Hell opens. We see heat shimmer and what appears to be a truly awful place beyond. Addis steps through and I follow him; after us comes Jack and the rest of the party. We find ourselves in a small structure open to the outside. The place has lava flows and the ground is rugged and completely dead.

When I step into Avernus, I feel something through the ring and, from that, I know the general direction in which to head. I want to head south.

I mention this to everyone as we leave the structure, but this thought is cut short by a huge ball of hellfire striking the ground. We are in the midst of a cinderstorm.

We walk as quickly as we can while trying to avoid the lava and keeping an eye on the sky to avoid the hellfire raining down. Unfortunately, we don’t do a good enough job. We hear a whistling sound and Eben gets hit. We’re able to continue south, though, until we reach a lava flow that is so wide and goes on for so long that we’re going to have to cross it. We choose a place that has a number of rocky islands and seems our best chance for making it safely across and begin. As we do this, though, we’re attacked by monsters that rise up from the lava and flying creatures.



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