Sylvan Skies

Part 1: Chapters 1-16

EDITOR’S NOTE: I GM’d the entire campaign, and I wrote most of the summaries. However, one of my player’s did assist and wrote a few here and there, including the first three. Each session credits are at the begging under the title. I probably should have done a separate post for each session, but don’t have the time for that right now. I already had the sessions broken into three “Parts”, and that is how I’ll post them. Since there is no way to support an index here, you can search on “Chapter 1”, etc. to find a specific chapter.

Enjoy!

Don Fuller

Part 1: Of Sylvan Skies

Prologue By Don Fuller

Andirion is a magical world rich with history and ancient cultures. It was once the battleground for gods, it has been ruled by wizard-kings, invaded by aliens and conquered by men. Empires have risen and fallen, and the oldest cities are founded upon ruins from times long past. Scholars have claimed that the world itself is a nexus point, a crossing between the forces of order and chaos. For a hundred-thousand years it has known war upon war, some so destructive that the face of its lands have been dramatically scarred.

The Sundering

In 6097, on the continent of Antheria, there was another war that would alter the future of the world. For the third time in a thousand years, a wizard recovered Shadar’s Crown, a divine artifact that gave its wearer mastery over forces of darkness. Assuming the title of ‘Dragon King’, and bolstering his already significant power with these new legions, he waged his campaign to overthrow the empire and establish his own rule. A group of heroes recovered Eitvar’s Blade and attempted to slay the wizard. Using an ancient ritual, he fled to Andirion’s second moon, Karos, where the God Shadar had been imprisoned six-thousand years ago. The heroes followed him there, and in an epic struggled they slew the wizard, but in the fight the moon was sundered and Shadar was freed. The bulk of the moon remained in orbit, but pieces of it were cast into space by the release of cosmic energy.

The Cataclysm

In the year 6100 the prophecies began. Across the world, prophets, seers and diviners all began to proclaim that the end of the world was finally upon them. They claimed that the remains of Karos were returning and would soon fall from the heaven’s and destroy the world and all life upon it. The greatest rulers and magicians consulted with each other and concluded that all of the prophets could not be wrong, but with so little time to act something had to be done to save the peoples of the world. Many solutions were presented, but the two most popular alternatives were to either build vast underground sanctuaries, or to construct massive floating cities that would lift people into the skies. There were many empires across the world, but the most powerful and magical empire was the Mythian Empire. The Mythians had long been known to possess arcane secrets that allowed them to lift up huge floating fortresses, but no one had ever seen an entire floating city. Emissaries were sent to consult with the Mythian government, and the answer came back. Yes, they knew how to lift cities into the sky, but at a great price. Only the wealthiest cities could hope to afford this. The rest of the world would have to go underground, and the Mythians offered the means to build their sanctuaries quickly and to protect the occupants from the cataclysm. With only months to spare, the first cities were lifted into the sky, and even as the shards of Karos began to fall as prophesied, more cities were still rising. Death and destruction rained from the heavens. The oceans boiled, the polar caps melted, and the land erupted with fire and brimstone. The Cataclysm was so powerful that the energy it released soon began to tear away at the fabric of reality. By cosmic fluke or mad design, the strands that made up the world and everything on it began to fray, and holes began to open between Andirion and Shadar’s realm of shadow. Hundreds of thousands of Shadowspawn poured through the rifts and began to spread across the world rejoicing in the destruction. Whatever the Cataclysm did not kill, the Shadowspawn feasted upon. And so the world was cast into darkness.

Five hundred years later

It is now the year 6608, and the people of the sky cities have forgotten what life was like before the Cataclysm. A dark poisonous cloud filled the sky below the cities, called The Veil, denying the sky people all but fleeting glimpses of their former homeland. Passing through the veil has only lead to death from its deadly vapors, and those who have dared press through have never returned. The new society would likely have continued as they were for many years to come, but now a new challenge has arisen. In the city of Haalkitaine, formerly of Antheria and part of the Star Crown Empire, a worried city council is debating what to do. For over five-hundred years the city has been held aloft by ancient Mythian magic, but now the city is drifting, albeit ever-so-slightly. For the last few weeks, the city recruited emissaries and sent them out in sky ships to seek aid from the remaining mage councils and libraries scattered around the world. And on this night, the only son of Kerous Telivanni, a Ashiri sky captain, packs his bags. His father has been missing for months, and now Kaycian Telivanni intends to recruit a crew for his father’s old ship and then go out and find him. Across the same city, a young Stondari is tasked by his people to take up an ancient cause, and a certain brawny Tragarr is looking for a bar fight. And thus Fate begins to weave a new tale.

Captain’s Log By Scott Montgomery Edited by Don Fuller

Witchwind 9th, Moon day Father hasn’t returned still. It’s unusual for him to be gone on voyages longer than 4 months. Longest was 5 months, but that was due to The Big Storm. I recall him telling me about Daris and picking up extra spice for trading on the return trip. Mother says he’ll be home soon, but she has been saying that for weeks. It’s been 10 months, I don’t have her optimism. At night I hear her crying, silently she mourns.

Witchwind 22nd, Sabbath day Passed through the market streets today, wandered into the warehouse district. I recall the days of youth helping father unload his cargo and oversee his crew. While in the docks, I’ve heard rumors spreading through the city that Haalkitaine is drifting. None know why, and a few are commissioned for seeking out the answer. I think Krazel’s father is one of them. I wish my father were here to provide his ship, I know he’d take me on this adventure.

Witchwind 27th, Garlen’s day I’ve decided to find father’s clipper and claim an early birthright. Father has been gone far too long, and I must put his remains to rest or find him if he’s still alive. My mother’s agony and grief is slowly taking her, she must no longer weep. I believe my father’s clipper is mothballed in Y’kleth district, I’ll search for it tomorrow.

Witchwind 28th, End Week An interesting day indeed. Found the Wind Sprite, definitely an eye sore. Amongst the abandoned hull I found rotting sails and major hull damage needing replacement. The spars, struts and beams are intact, and salvageable. The forward catapult is missing, needs replacement. Maneuvering systems are intact but need fine work. Amongst the captain quarters was an unusual guest. Father seemed to have left behind a stowaway, goblin really by the look and smell of him. Don’t know how long he has been there, but the poor creature was foul. Luckily my superior movement and training from father’s soldier-at-arms provided me the speed to dodge it’s attacks. After it’s failed attack and grabbing him by the scruff, I convinced it I was not intending him harm. The creature recognized me as my father’s son. Immediately taking me to be it’s captain and replacing my father. I am not sure why he let such a creature in his presence, but together we shall find my father and ask him. His name is Squee.

To pick a crew... First day as captain, and already dreading my choices. It seems anyone of any caliber is already shipped out or in the Royal Navy. I wish Tolani was here, I could use her charismatic abilities and leadership as a First-Mate. Too bad she's already got her commission from the Alfar Sky Captain Academy. I hope she would approve of my choices. 
Financeer: For the first in my knowledgeable life, an Stondari has become an acquaintance of mine. Interesting species, they are mostly rock with no apparent fighting ability. Met one in the Red Hook intent on sampling the local ale by the half-case. His race has a knowledge of the Elfen language, but it wasn't as fluid as his common. Oddly enough, the barkeep mentioned he was looking for a captain to take him on a quest. He called himself Derth.
FirstMate:  Rough and tumble. When there is nothing to pick from, I suppose a bad apple is still nourishment. Bart, the tavern owner, mentioned that Baldrick was between jobs. What he didn't mention was that he was an ork. Maybe he'll be better to keep the men in line that way. When asked about his career, Bart hastily changed the subject. I'll have to look into it further.
Sergeant-at-Arms: I would tend to believe the biggest meanest brute in the bar would be a good choice. Unfortunately it just happened to be a trow who was throwing my only available First-Mate out of the bar. After the slight fisticuffs I approached the trow and offered services. He seems a bit dimwitted but maybe his brute strength and ability for close quarters combat will overcome that. I think I heard his buddies grunt his name, Skragg.
..... Baldrick stated he'd get the finer details of the rest of the crew. I gave him my limitations and we should set sail in the week.

Midyear 3rd, Ashyra’s day At services, High Priest Olar mentioned that High Paladin Ozmeer has been slain. It cannot be, High Paladin Ozmeer was only here last week. His hippogriff has returned, but his squire has not. By the fortune of Ashyra, I pray for guidance in knowing my path when it comes. I must take it upon myself to find the squire and bring him to safety, and to find out what became of Ozmeer.

Midyear 11th, Winds Day First day of voyage, not completely how I wanted to leave. But finally we are underway. As we were preparing to set sail Baldrick identified an approaching merchant/priest in robes. She looked like she was of the faith of Ashyra, but there was something else that was showing. I recognized her as the Numeri from the reservoirs. Odd to have this visitor, one of a kind from this city, giving us departing rights. To my astonishment, she was wanting to partake in our voyage and claimed that she had the healing ability. Skeptical, and with Baldrick forgetting our ship’s healer, I allowed her passage. Derth almost fell overboard worried about food consumption for the new arrival. Seriously, I think his math skills are a bit on the downside. He’s overloaded our hold with Two months of food. Most of it will spoil by then! Immediately she started to make demands for living quarters, the arrogance. I put her in the forecastle with Skragg. She’ll have to cross through the hold with the crew. That ought to take some wind out of her sails. While she was en-route to her quarters, it seems she met Squee and assaulted him with a sleep spell. I only wish she would hit him with a bathe spell of some kind. And if that didn’t top the cake.. the local magistrates decided to stop by. Not having one for being grounded before I could even get in flight, I decided to take to the wind and get the voyage underway. Perhaps the new passenger could explain, I’ll have to ask later. It was nice of them to give us a four frigate escort out of the docks, for 5 hours, out for 125 miles…..

Derth mentioned we're heading to see Felzar the mage. I've heard of him, and father has taken me near his tower, never making contact only showing it in the distance. It should take us a day or two to arrive. My fledgling crew looks pretty green, father may be pleased as well as Tolani. I wonder what their first crew were like. I've decided to take the two most experienced sailors, Slade and Colwyn,  and promote them to Helmsman and Sideman. Still wet behind the ears, I had to explain the helm operation and sail manipulation to them both. But they're the brightest of the bunch.
The twins, Larryk and Larryk, got into a scuffle today with the cook, Ox. My father had this way of dealing with unruly crew. What I recall was this tunic he'd have the crew adorn and strip their normal assigned duties while ordering them to do special tasks in these tunics. The Red-Coat policy, he called it. It was more of a shirt than a coat, but I didn't argue with him then and I can't argue with him now. In his honor, I implemented the Red-Shirt policy with Larryk and Larryk. I think it put the fear into the others, it was a clear day of sailing after that.

Midyear 12th, Garlen’s Day Almost lost Navar earlier today. The bloody fool wasn’t tied down and we were in a heavy storm. Seemed to roll on us from below. The ship buffeted and pitched but luckily Squee was there to provide quick action and save Navar. Maybe Squee is better around the ship than I give him credit for. Dreaded storm continues and we’re nearing Felzar’s tower. It looks more ominous that I remember it, we should be arriving in the hour. I hope we’re welcome, perhaps he’ll have some warm food for guests.. if he’s taking guests. First docking attempt, I must oversee the men and pray.

Chapter 1: Demonclaw, part 1 By Scott Montgomery Edited by Don Fuller

1

Storms. Haalkitaine loves storms, Kaycian thought. It was common practice for the elemental wizards of the city to produce their own storms in order to provide fresh water. Avians in the local bestiaries tended to remain grounded during such storms, but that wasn’t an option for the Wind Sprite today. For the last ten months, Kaycian had watched the storms, worried for the safety of his father. Today, he had his own worries about the darkening sky ahead

“Land-Ho!”, cried the top man. Kaycian looked up, wondering if Navar was hallucinating, “Verify!” answered Baldrick. “Aye, fifteen degrees high on our ten. Range, fifty miles”, replied Navar. Kaycian quickly pulled out his spyglass and scanned for the target. “Spot on,” he confirmed to Baldrick. “Felzar’s tower,” he whispered under the breath, “A bit darker than normal.” He handed his glass to the stony financier, urging him not to break it. “See for yourself, we’ll be there in about two hours.” Derth awkwardly took the spyglass, and with a moment of adjustment, examined the tower. “Not very inviting in the light of this storm.” Kaycian nodded in agreement, taking his spyglass back.

“Baldrick, call me from my cabin when we are about to approach.” “Aye Capt’n,” Kaycian put his spy glass away, nodded to Derth and then went into his cabin to enter his midday journal.

Two hours later, Squee burst in. “Capt’n, Felzar’s tower is close, and there’s a nasty storm upon us! Colwyn almost went over, but I saved him.” Kaycian sighed, wondering why his father ever employed the goblin. “Thank you Squee.” He then took his sheathed heron-marked rapier off a rack and proceeded topside.

“Baldrick, report!” The first mate finished reprimanding a deckhand for casting the wrong line, before addressing Kaycian. “Capt’n, Felzar’s tower has no dock. This storm quickly overcame us, but we’ve climbed above the thunderhead. We’re looking for a suitable spot to land.”

Taking them in high over the storm was good judgment . Perhaps the first mate would work out after all, Kaycian thought. “Very well, keep us high until we close, and then find us a spot.” “Aye Capt’n! Larryk, secure that line!”

The tower was of dingy white stone, probably five or so stories, and rested in a rocky bowl with high sides. The bottom of the “bowl” jutted down into a crag nearly a third the size of the tower itself. As they got closer, Kaycian spotted a small landing platform set into the side of bowl, with a narrow bridge that extended to the second floor of the tower. From his vantage, he could see the depression was filled with water like an ancient moat from the old stories.

“They don’t get many ships out here,” he said. “We’ll come up alongside, and use the gangplank. I’ll take the helm.”

Kaycian took the wheel as they came level with the tower landing. The cross-winds buffeted the ship, and she rocked back and forth. “Raise the sails!” Baldrick commanded. Tense moments later Kaycian called for an all stop. Colwyn pulled both brake levers to the all stop position, and the four large canvas flaps extended out to catch the wind. It was a tricky maneuver stopping an airship where you wanted it, and Kaycian smiled as they executed it perfectly. “Grapple’s away!” said Baldrick, and the line crew tossed their grapples to the platform and the rocks. Several found purchased and held. The line men quickly tied them off, and the Wind Sprite came to a gentle stop. “Gangplank out,” Baldrick ordered, and two of the men extended it out to the platform and then locked it in place.

“Good work men.” Kaycian said. “Boarding party, let’s go. Baldrick, rotate the men and have them break for mess. Keep half the crew ready for a quick departure. If you see us running, get the sails down fast.” “Aye Cap’n.” Kaycian was not sure if he’d see his ship again. Judging from what he’d seen so far, they were short on crew, and half of what they had were ruffians with little experience. Baldrick seemed competent, but Kaycian was slow to trust. They might just end up as Felzar’s guests until the Haalkitaine Navy caught up with him.

2

Derth led the group, followed by Kaycian, Squee, Kethia and Skragg. They carefully crossed the slippery rain drenched platform towards the bridge connecting the hippogriff pad and the tower. Several dozen feet below the bridge, the base of the cauldron was filled with murky water and jutting rocks, and around the sides encircling the rest of the tower was the rocky outcropping that prevented all approaches to the tower except for pad. Fifty feet across the bridge was a large set of wooden doors. There were no windows visible except for one near the top, nearly a seventy feet up.

Derth stopped at the foot of the bridge, apparently lost in thought to the rest of the crew, though in reality he was astrally perceiving the area for magical wards or traps. Kaycian watched the expressionless stone man impatiently. Thus far, he knew little to nothing about the financier; the Stondari were a mysterious race that up until days ago had stayed reclusive from the rest of the city’s inhabitants. “Derth, the door is still across the bridge, and we’re getting wet. It’s a bit late for second thoughts.” Derth ignored him a few more moments, then spoke “This place is tainted. We must be careful and not linger long.” “Time to go!” announced Squee hastily and turned to walk back aboard the gangplank. Kaycian and Derth pressed on, and Kethia and Skragg followed closely behind. “Uh.. Capt’n, you’re goin’ the wrong way..” Squee said. “This way Squee, we’re not leaving yet.”

They crossed the bridge, and on each door there was a unique knocker, one with the symbol of Kareg and the other Shadar, both considered the more chaotic of the gods. Derth knocked using Kareg. Mintues passed, and no response came. “Given the presence of taint, We must enter and discern the well-being of the mage,” Derth said. “Skragg, please assist.” Skragg grunted, glanced at Kaycian who nodded the go-ahead, and then the two of them began to kick the doors in. It took them only a few solid blows before the bar split and the doors swung wide, gusting with the wind and slamming hard against the frames with a loud crack. Skragg readied his halberd and stepped in expecting trouble.

The rest of the group followed him in; just inside there was a short entry hall with opposing tapestries on each wall. One depicted a beautiful silver dragon roaming the skies, the other a horrific battle with demonic creatures devouring the living and dead in a battle long forgotten. On the far end of the hall were three doorways, one to each side and straight ahead.

Skragg moved up to the three doors, and checked the one on the left. Derth moved to the door on the right. Kethia wasn’t sure what to do with the two large-framed allies blocking the hall, and stood near the entryway. Kaycian drew his rapier and stopped to study the silver dragon depiction closely. Squee stayed behind his captain for his own safety. Kaycian lifted the side of the tapestry from the wall to check for anything conspicuous, and halted. A quick blur darted back through a hole the size of a hand. Kaycian grabbed the tapestry and pulled hard, tearing it from the hanging bar in a cloud of dust, revealing the secret spy hole to his companions. “Be prepared, they know we’re here.” With the warning, Skragg busted open the door, and they all heard a man’s charging scream.

Not having fought together before, the party of five seemed to work in graceful unison without any communication. Skragg blocked the maddened attacker who was wielding an axe. In such close quarters his pole arm was not as effective. Skragg considered his options and decided it was brawling time. Dropping the pole arm, the muscle-bound brute engaged his attacker and took a swing at him; the man jumped back, eyes wild. Stepping quickly in the room behind Skragg, Kethia concentrated on neutralizing the threat. She shouted a spell, and a small burst of energy darted across the room and caught the mad man in the chest stunning him. Derth, in the rear of the combat, stayed his position at the other doors watching the fight. Kaycian backed into the corner near the doorway next to Derth, rapier in hand facing the other tapestry, ready for anything. From the corner of his eye Kaycian saw a mystical dark mist leave Derth’s upper torso and fly into the room where the three were fighting. Skragg grappled the man and disarmed him, lifting him off the floor in a bear hug, legs flailing.

Kethia walked up to the pair and studied the man, concentrating. His hair was tousled, clothes dirty, and he smelled as if he hadn’t bathed in days. She spoke another spell and charmed him hoping to befriend him and learn the secrets of what happened. Unfortunately nothing but babble and confusion spewed from the man. “He’s got a strange mark on his neck,” Skragg said. “Turn him around please,” Kethia replied. Skragg pinned the man’s arms and turned him around, watching his feet. They both looked at the hand shaped burn mark on his neck. “He’s tainted.” Still not sure what Derth meant by that, but suspecting it was very bad, Skragg immediately broke the mans back and dropped his crumpled body to the floor. Kethia gasped, but Derth nodded approvingly. “Is there nothing we could have done?” She asked, shaken. “No. He was demon touched. The perversion of the shadowspawn, called taint, is only curable in very small doses. He was beyond help.”

With a search of the room, Kaycian located a small panel in the corner, too small for a man to fit inside. He called for Squee. “Shimmy up this and find out where it goes,” he ordered. Squee looked concerned, but obeyed immediately. They all waited a minute before he returned. They looked expectantly as he whispered to the captain. “There’s another madman in the next room, sitting facing the door with axe. He’s shorter though, with a beard,” he said, pointing to the door at the end of the hall opposite the entrance. Kaycian moved to the others and quietly shared the information. As the group readied to engage the second assailant, Kaycian knelt by Squee and whispered to him. “Head to the ship, and get some help taking these two tapestries back.” Squee nodded, and headed back out of the tower, clearly glad to avoid the next confrontation.

Derth and Kethia had spells ready, and Skragg burst through the doorway where the second man was waiting in ambush. He never had a chance, as Skragg impaled him and threw him against the wall spitting blood. Derth checked the man’s neck and confirm that he too had the strange hand shaped mark. There was two flights of stairs on the back side of the semi-circle shaped room, one leading up and one leading down, and between them was a fireplace filled with ashes. They hastily searched the room, and then Skragg led the way up the stairs.

Chapter 2: Demonclaw, part 2 By Scott Montgomery

Squee ran back across the rainy walkway to the ship. Baldrick watched him with great concern, and nearly gave the command to lower the sails, but decided to wait to hear what the goblin had to say. He ran across the gangplank to the deck, and addressed the first mate. “Cap’n Kaycian wants you to send two men to fetch the tapestries from the front hall,” he blurted breathlessly. Baldrick looked at him puzzled. “Why?” Squee shrugged. “Should I tell him you refused?” He scowled. “Let the Captain know its done. Larryk, you and your brother follow the goblin and bring back some tapestries.” Squee ran back across the bridge, the brothers Larryk barely able to worry about their task as they chased after the goblin.

On the second level the group found the mage slumped forward at a table. His neck was severed from the rear and barely held his head in place, and his body was soaked in dried blood which was also pooled on the floor. There were bloody footprints prints that wandered around the room with no sense or purpose, perhaps providing a grim insight into the assailant’s mind. Kethia got close and studied the body. “He’s been dead for a couple days now.” Saddened, the party looked about the room for any further signs of the attackers. Rummaging through the fireplace, Kethia discovered many documents burned and charred; at least one was partially salvageable, and she handed it to Derth. Other than the book, they didn’t find anything else of value. Just as they finished their search, Squee came running into the room dripping from the rain. A roll of thunder shook the tower, and Squee nodded to Kaycian that the task was done.

Leaving the mage as he was, they cautiously ascended the semicircle of the tower, Skragg leading the way to another landing. Near the top, they all paused when they heard someone talking. Suddenly a wall of fire crackled to life, blocking off the stairway. From behind Skragg, Derth called upon his own magical powers to banish the flaming wall; black mist flew from his hands and sizzled into the flames, and a moment later they vanished into smoke. Kaycian readied his bow, and then as one the party rushed into the room prepared for combat. The room looked to be a library, study and lab, and was in total disarray. Tapestries lined the circular wall interspersed by bookshelves. On a central workbench there were alchemy vials and jars filled with colorful concoctions.

Realizing the room was empty of foes, Skragg, Derth, and Kethia ran up the next flight of stairs in haste pursuing the magician. Kaycian stayed behind, bow still ready. “He didn’t take the stairs, we would have seen him. Squee, search for another exit or hiding place!” he commanded. Squee ran about the room, frantically searching. He found what he was looking for behind an ornate tapestry depicting an oceanic underwater city, “Capt’n, over here!” he called, pulling it aside. Kaycian acknowledge the portal and ran over to it. Pushing the tapestry aside and stepping through revealed a narrow hall behind the wall that ended at a ladder up. He climbed up the ladder to the next floor, but wasn’t able to find the secret hatch; it appeared to be solid stone. “Squee, climb up by me. Do you see anything?” The goblin squeezed up next to Kaycian and looked closely, but couldn’t find any sign of a hatch either.

Moving up the stairs to the next level, the stairs ended at a closed trap door leading up. They could make out lantern light through the cracks. Unable to see more of the room, Skragg pushed open the hatch and started to climb through. No sooner did he get his head inside, then he heard someone mutter a spell. Skragg didn’t even get a chance to react, as he succumbed to a magical sleep and fell back to the floor. Derth pushed Skragg aside, readied a spell, and hastily shoved through the hatch looking for his target. Waiting for an opportunity, the unknown figure released another spell. In much the same way Skragg reacted, Derth crashed to the floor next to him. With both the stondari and trow on the floor sleeping, Kethia decided to try a parlay.

“What is it you want?”, she called up. After a long pause, a man replied, “You shouldn’t of come here. I killed the Paladin you know, and I will kill you too!” Judging by his tone, Kethia suspected the man was out of sorts to say the least. Something was driving these people insane. Disappointed, Kethia waited for half a minute for the initial spell effects to weaken, and then she knelt by Skragg and Derth and pulled out some smelling salts from her herb pouch. Noses twitching, both of them groggily opened their eyes in confusion. Skragg growled, and climbed to his feet, rubbing the back of his head. Derth joined him, looking thoughtful. Kethia wonder if he was embarrassed at losing the spell battle, but couldn’t tell. Kaycian and Squee caught up to them while they were standing there shaking off the sleep spell. He looked at the three of them and the open hatch above; obviously something had transpired. “e’s up there,” Skragg said. “He’s quick with his spells too.” “Ah. Derth, go with Squee and see if you can open this mage’s door. We may have another way in” he whispered. You two, go with them too. Maybe you can flush him out. I’ll wait here and see if I can get a shot.” Kaycian crouched down in shadows waiting in ambush, bow ready, staring intently on the hatch. For several minutes there was nothing. He hoped Derth could get the other hatch open, and startle the mage into a retreat. If he gambled right, the mage would catch an arrow in the forehead when he came to look. What’s taking Derth so long, he wondered. Apparently his prey was wondering too, and lost the battle of patience. Kaycian was ready, but didn’t expect what came next. Two small eyestalks peered over the edge, and they seemed to be attached to a grey skinned hand walking on its fingers. Kaycian recognized the foe instantly and let loose his shot. The foul demon caught the arrow across the thumb and squealed in pain from a fanged mouth in its palm. Recoiling from the attack, it scampered back into the room. What is going on here, thought Kaycian, shivering at the sight of the creature. Secluded in darkness he prepared another shot and waited, but the creature didn’t show itself again. Finally Derth returned to report Kaycian looked at him, disappointed. “There is no magical doorway above the ladder,” He said. It is just stone. I could pass through it, but do not yet know the spell to open it for others. Given the amount of taint here, I chose not to join with the wall.” Kaycian briefly described what he had seen, and that the creature was wounded. “Then we are definitely dealing with a demon,” Derth said. “Very well. Let us not give it time to heal; perhaps it won’t be ready with its spell so quickly this time. Skragg, are you prepared for another try?” Skragg nodded an agreement. “Wotcha have in mind?”

Derth explained, and then knelt. Skragg got on his shoulders, halberd ready. With an impressive heave, Derth lifted Skragg through the hatch with enough force for him to make the landing. Skragg immediately dodged and spun, looking for their foe. Distant lightning illuminated the sky and silhouetted a swaying figure standing in the opened window. Oblivious to the trow, the mages apprentice continued to look out the window He was standing in. “Your mine!” yelled Skragg as he rushes the unarmed man. Derth vaulted Kaycian into the room, just in time to witness the carnage. “No!” he shouted to Skragg, but it was too late. Skragg impaled him, and had him dangling precariously from the end of his weapon, blood spattering from the force of the blow. Kaycian scoured the room, looking for the hand, his bow ready for the shot. “Skragg! We needed to interrogate him! Pull him inside.” Kethia flew up into the room, landing gracefully next to Kacyian, and Derth started climbing through with Squee on his shoulder. “Close the hatch, and Skragg close that window. The creature must still be in the room” He secured his composite bow and drew his rapier. The room was large and filled with old wooden crates and barrels, many filled with odd collections of junk. They started searching through the boxes, weapons and spells ready, until Kaycian found a trail of ichor leading to a corner of the room, where a small hole lead out into the eaves of the tower. It appeared that the demon hand had made its escape, and the young apprentice was very much dead, so the group decided it best to finish their tower search and head to the basement.

They didn’t find anything significant below, except a concealed doorway to the outside of the tower which lead to path along the sides to the waterline. Before the party could investigate the path, Larryk came down the stairs. “Capt’n, Baldrick requests your presence! There’s a disturbance on deck. We found a boy.” “Looks like we are done here.” Kaycian said. “I’ll join you. He may need healing attention.” “We’ll head up and investigate the study more closely,” Derth said. “I’ll stick with Derth,” Skragg said.

Kaycian and Kethia got back on the deck of the Wind Sprite where Baldrick had a boy of eleven or so near the main mast. His hair was matted and his clothes torn, but aside from being pale and shaken there was no sign of injury. “We found him on the rocks; he was climbing to take a gander at the ship. Could have easily fallen to his death.” “Are you the captain sir?” the boy said, near tears. Kaycian nodded, “I am”. Well sir, I am Varlad. Squire to Paladin Ozmeer, They..” “Hold that thought, child.” Kaycian cut him off with a motion and looked to Baldrick. “Baldrick, I want all the men on deck and accounted for. Have them all in line for inspection. Windmistress Kethia will oversee this inspection.” Not sure what the order was about, Baldrick barked “All hands on deck!” Looking for a crewman to report to Derth, Kaycian called to Ohtar. “Ohtar! Head into the tower and inform Derth we’ve located the squire. They’re on the second floor.” “Aye Capt’n.” responded Ohtar, and he ran down the gangplank.

Kaycian led the boy below deck and into the mess, where Ox was about to leave from. “Belay that order Ox, and fix up something hot for the boy,” Ox nodded, and started the stove. Kaycian motion the boy to have a seat, and then joined him across the table. “Start from the beginning. What is your name, and what were you doing out there on those rocks. Tell me no false details.” “I am Varlad, squire to the paladin Ozmeer. Oh sir, they killed him!” he sobbed. Ox brought over a cup of rum, handed it to the boy. Kaycian nodded his thanks. Varlad choked back his tears, took a drink, and continued. “We came to the tower to with the Mage Felzar about the drifting city. One of his servants let us in but I could tell by the crazed look in his eye something wasn’t right.” . His small frame looked weak due to hunger, and cold due to rain. The boy looked around the mess cabin again and was glad to be out of the elements. “Shortly after entering they ambushed us; there were several of them with axes, and one struck my master in the back and killed him. I fled through a concealed doorway and made it across the water to the rock outcropping. I prayed to Ashyra someone would save me. The crazed servants called out but were unable to get to me. That was two days ago. They finally gave up, and then you arrived today. I was planning to sneak aboard when your men spotted me.” Ox slid a plate of leftover stew before the boy. “Ox, prepare enough for the rest of the officers for when they return shortly, and, bring another plate for Varlad too.” Kaycian rubbed his chin, taking in the details, while the boy was devouring the stew and bread given to him. Sad news indeed, with both the paladin and the mage dead, and no explanation for either.

Baldrick came running in. “Capt’n, we have a slight problem. We’re missing a crewman.” Kaycian didn’t like the sound of that. His instinct told him it was bad news, and it meant the demonic hand. He hoped he wouldn’t have to kill a crewman in front of the others. “Baldrick, who is it?” Kaycian asked reluctantly. “Slade sir.” replied Baldrick. Wincing, Kaycian knew he would be in dire trouble if he lost his best helmsmen. While he mulled over what to do next, they both heard a noise within the crew quarters. “Baldrick, summon Larryk and inform him to get Derth and Skragg here immediately! Open the weapons locker and provide Ohtar a weapon. Ox, take the boy above deck and ensure no one else comes down here.” Not wasting any precious seconds, Baldrick ran and unlocked the weapons locker and handed Ohtar a cutlass. He then followed Kaycian and Ohtar into the quarters. They quietly moved through the dimly lit quarters area, and then from below in the hold came a clanking of chains and a thud. The ship lurches slightly and instinctively Kaycian charged ahead to see the cargo hold door open in the wind. Kaycian dropped down the seven feet onto the cargo deck facing the open cargo door, and then sensed his assailant behind him. Ohtar landed between Kaycian and Slade, parrying the attack just in time. Kaycian spun, and they faced off. From the crazed look in Slade’s eyes, Kaycian knew who the true adversary was. Not wanting to kill his helmsman, he attempted a disarm maneuver; Slade kept his weapon, and then swung wildly at Kaycian again, who parried him easily. With an opportunity to act, Ohtar stepped in with an assist and broke Slade’s grip, sending the cutlass to the deck. Off-balance and weaponless, Slade lunged and attempted to grapple Ohtar. Quick to act, Kaycian struck him in the back of the head with a solid blow with his pommel and knocked him out . As he hit the deck, they both stepped back and watched as a grey clawed hand with tentacles seemed to materialize on the back of Slade’s neck. The hand leaped onto the deck and scurried for the open cargo hold. Dropping his rapier and quick drawing his bow, Kaycian readied a shot. Ohtar pursued the hand to the cargo doors edge hoping to stab it to the deck. Kaycian fired, just missing the creature, which made Ohtar pause for a fraction of a second. Then the hand leaped from the edge, and quickly plummeted out of sight. Disgusted, Kaycian put his bow away and sheathed his rapier.

Kaycian knelt by his helmsman and checked for breathing. “What was that?” Ohtar asked. Kaycian shrugged, not sure how to answer. “Something from the tower. Whatever it was, it killed both the mage and the paladin, and drove the servants mad.”

Above, they heard the pounding steps of Skragg and Derth. Kaycian called out their location, and soon the two joined them on the cargo deck. “Wot happened?” Skragg asked. Pointing to Slade, Kaycian replied “The hand possessed Slade and made him attack us. I’m not sure what its plan was though. We’ve knocked him unconscious and the hand fled over the cargo hold door to the clouds below. Derth studied Slade. “Hmm. He was possessed for a very short time, even still, some taint lingers.” “Do what you can, and monitor his condition. Skragg and Ohtar, secure that door so we can depart. Baldrick, get the ship prepared for departure. I will hold a captain’s meeting in the mess in 15 minutes.” “I will conduct a quick search of the ship for any taint, then we can proceed.” Once the door was closed, Ohtar secured Slade and left Skragg standing Watch. Kaycian headed back to his captains quarters. “Aye Capt’n.”

Chapter 3: Demonclaw, part 3 By Scott Montgomery Edited by Don Fuller

Walking from the cargo hold to the mess, Kaycian contemplated who his new helmsman would be. He could hear Derth behind him in the crew quarters. “Captain, there is a safe in the library’s study that still needs to be opened. I believe there could be documents there that we can utilize”, Derth called out. “Very well, I’ll go investigate.” He answered. He cut through the mess and up onto the deck and looked around. The crew was busy preparing for departure. Two deckhands attempting to skirt the eyes of Baldrick failed to notice Kaycian come from the mess, “Kaldak! Lethra! You two come with me! You too Squee.” Wearily, both acknowledged with an “Ay Capt’n” and followed him off the gangplank to the platform with the goblin trailing behind. Once back at the tower, they headed up the stairs and onto the second landing. “You two hold here until I call for you.” He said. Motioning to the goblin to continue, the two went up the next flight to the study.

Squee quickly spotted the safe. “Can you open it?” The goblin shrugged, and pulled out some small tools. He then began to carefully poke and pry at the lock. After several attempts to open the safe, he sighed in frustration. “I’m sorry Capt’n this one is beyond my skill. I can’t open it.” Kaycian looked the complex lock over and attempted to open it himself. Unable to unlock the safe, he turned to Squee and said “Show me the other location.” After removing the contents and swapping containers, Kaycian calls out “Kaldak! Lethra! Get up here.” Moving swiftly the two crewmen move up the stairs and enter the library. “Carry this safe back to the ship and put it in my quarters.”

After Kaycian returned to the Wind Sprite, Ohtar approached. “Sir, I’d like to discuss something with you.” “Very well; join me in the mess.” The two headed down and took a seat after Kaycian requested some food from Ox. “What is on your mind Ohtar?” “Sir, I’ve been watching Slade and Colwyn man the helm and elevators, and have made note that we have no navigator. I am trained in the ways of navigation and feel I can serve the Wind Sprite greatest in this position.” Impressed with the confidence of the sailor, Kaycian drummed the table. “You think you’re a good navigator eh? Agreed, we do need a steady navigator, so I’ll test your knowledge.” Pulling the flotation map out first, Kaycian drops the parchment onto the table. “Show us where we are currently on the map,” mused Kaycian, knowing that Felzar’s tower would not be on the chart. In minutes Ohtar had removed his sextant and compass from his crew quarters, finely ornate devices only given to navigators in the naval commissions. “We’re here sir.” pointing to a location on the map. Tersing his lip, Kaycian pulled a more difficult, second chart from his tunic. “Identify this map, and plot a course from Haalkitaine to Eidolon.” Smiling, Ohtar studied the map thoughtfully, “Ah, that is a thermal aerodynamics map. And this is the quickest route” outlining a proper route. Impressed with the proof that Ohtar wasn’t just coughing for a field promotion, “Very well Ohtar, you’ll be head navigator. Slade and Colwyn will report to you. As will Thorpe, he’ll replace Slade for the moment until Slade returns to duty.” Ohtar, putting his supplies away. “Very good Capt’n”.

Baldrick entered the mess, “Capt’n, the crew is prepared and we’re waiting for next destination.” Folding his maps together and stuffing them back into his tunic, “Let them be for the moment, we have something to discuss first. Call the officers to the mess.” Baldrick returned with Derth, Kethia, and Skragg. Peering through the doorway, Kaycian spotted the twins moving by. Calling out to them, “Larryk! Man the door and ensure we’re not disturbed.” Under muttered breaths, both immediately make three quick vertical hand motions and end in different hand gestures. The loser of this hand game frowns and Larryk is left standing at the door, while Larryk heads off the main deck quickly.

After watching everyone take a seat, Kaycian opens the conversation. “Well, we’ve found the squire, Varlad. He was in hiding for two days on the rocks. Varlad, repeat your story to the other officers.” The young boy, at most the age of 11, begins his story again. The other officers listen intently to the details he provides. When he completes Kaycian responds, “Are you capable in melee combat with your training as a squire?” Boldly looking around at the armed officers around him, “Yes sir, I am learned in the sword.” Nodding to the squire, “Very good. You’ll be a crewman then until we set port next. In the event that we must defend the ship, you will defend her as well.” Sizing the squire up a bit more, “You will report to Baldrick for assignment and learning of basic airmanship.” In a mellow deep tone Derth notes, “Our next port will be Eidolon.” Bewildered with the change in course Kaycian looks to Derth, “Eidolon? Ok, we’ll make the change.” Shifting to face Baldrick, “Promote Thorpe to helmsman. Inform Thorpe and Colwyn that they report to Ohtar now. Make all crew know Ohtar is now ship’s navigator. Take Varlad with you and assign him under Colwyn.” Turning further to Ohtar, “Plot a course to Eidolon.” Without confirmation, Ohtar and Baldrick leave the remaining officers in the mess and head to the top deck.

As the bustle of the deck above continues, the ship lurches from its mooring release on the platform and begins to drift into the wind. Concerned about the change in course from original planning the captain of the ship confronts the financeer, “Derth, why the change in course?” In an expressionless face Derth responds monotonously, forming his words slowly “The box we found in the tower was delivered. The ship delivering the box most likely is on the way to Eidolon. We must head there, and identify who ordered the box delivered.” With recognition of the box from the tower, Kaycian turns to Squee insightfully, “Squee, go fetch the treasure map burned on the wood”. Thoughtfully, Squee hops down from his table and runs to obtain the scap of cargo box etched with the shipping label and returns. With the scrap of wood on the table Ohtar speaks up, “Capt’n, that’s the Lucky Lady’s insignia. Tramp freighter out of Eidolon, Capt’n Tolivar.” standing up, Kaycian places his palms on the table, “That’s all we have for now, eat up now since you didn’t get to earlier. Ox’s swill is actually pretty decent today.” Adjourning the meeting, Kaycian exits the mess and heads onto the deck to oversee the tower’s departure.

Over the next two days, the skies were mostly uneventful. Each member of the crew had their own hobbies and interest to attend while Varlad’s training in basic airmanship was coming along well. Thorpe was also grasping his new responsibilities. Under Ohtar’s watchful eye, the helmcrew ran through drills. Skragg had crew members, during off watch times, running through mock combat to keep his and their skill up. Unfortunately for the crewmen, they walk away worse for wear. Derth remained in his quarters, studying Slade for any sign of taint reduction, as well as studying the books brought aboard from the tower. In her private quarters, Kethia took ample time available to submerge herself in the water-sealed barrel provided her by the captain to remain hydrated. In the cargo hold with Larryk and Kaldak, Kaycian was practicing his rapier skills against multiple opponents. Somewhere else on the ship, a couple of other unlucky crewmen were being swindled out of their silver by Squee with a few rounds of Dragon-poker.

In the afternoon Navar calls down, “Land ho! Eidolon, 10 degrees to Starboard!” Against the lilly clouds and blue skies sits an impressive city of display. The first perimeter tower ten miles out from the city’s edge sits as a sentry post. Equidistant apart from each other at five mile intervals, the perimeter tower has sibling towers forming a ring surrounding the floating city. Some of them crumbling from decay, others intact and still in use. From the time of the second Cataclysm, the towers were used to bolster defense against the demon attacks. Now that there are fewer known sightings, the towers have degraded in use. At the base of Eidolon, a six platform ring connected by suspension bridges sits with alternating city and agriculture platform’s. To maximize space, on the underside of the platforms, hangs towers protruding the underskyline. Two miles up from the six platform ring and centered towers the city proper of Eidolon. With underskyline towers hanging and massive towers on its surface, this city bustles with life. Slightly rotating in the center ring, the city of Eidolon revolves three times during the day. Quartered in the top section of the surface, a busy skyport for incoming and outgoing vessels harbors great import and export for the local economy. Baldrick didn’t need to verify the contact Eidolon was massive and easily seen in the clear skies.

“Baldrick, ready the men for docking approach.” commanded Kaycian, stepping from below deck. “Aye Capt’n.” Responded the first mate, “All hands on deck! Prepare for docking approach!” The airship jumped into immediate action. Men lounging on the deck offduty immediately stepped lively into responsibilities. As the vessel navigated the outer perimeter craft from all over could be seen. All sizes of boats and yachts coming and going. There was even adolescents weaving through ship masts on a flying carpet with the only goal seeming to agitate the captains shaking their fists in response. With all this commotion only a skillful navigator and crew could land on such a massive skyline that rotated to cause further problems. A small skiff with a magistrate or steward to be more correct zipped through the skylanes with ease avoiding near collision multiple times. The skiff operator looked determined and focused without fluster, probably a veteran of the great war. Coming along side of the Wind Sprite, the magistrate called to attention, “Seeking the captain of the vessel.” Standing on deck expecting such arrival procedure Kaycian resounded, “Captain Kaycian Telvanni of the Wind Sprite on deck.” Looking over the captain the steward made a few marks on his chart and provided docking protocol with the landing berth. After the captain of the Wind Sprite acknowledged the berthing location the skiff veered off to find another arrival.

“Ohtar, make course for the landing berth.” looking at Thorpe, Kaycian wondered if the ship would make its second landing under a new helmsman. “You heard the Capt’n, Thorpe. Proceed to Yellow 21 berth.” gave Ohtar while monitoring the sailor’s new station promotion from days before. Without much event and the slight intervention of Ohtar on the last moment, the ship was nestled in drydock berth unharmed. A sigh of relief could be heard amongst much of the crew. “Baldrick, man stations, no ship leave at this time. If any one approaches, no contact with crewmen and those in Eidolon. If anyone asks, we have not been to Felzar’s tower.”

Chapter 4: Raggok’s Keep, part 1 By Scott Montgomery

Mistful clouds bound across the sky bumping into each other giving way with thunderous claps and intertwining mixture. White and grey forms of puffmist beckon women and men of young and old who yearn for adventure. Children daydream by forming shapes of hippogriffs, dragons and other mystical things. Experienced ship captains heed caution to the clouds for dangers wait among them; beasts, collisions, pirates, and unseen portals to elemental planes. In all their mysteriousness; mistforms provide wonder and fear. For some it also provides a habitat and haven from the mortals of the prime material realm. Drifting through the sky among the other clouds, islands of spongy earth float with a cloud undershell. On the surface they look much like a normal landmass with elemental trees, hills, and water. A few become home to avian creatures and marooned shipwrecks. Many of these uncharted floating anomalies go unnoticed masked among the clouds. The small enclosed keep on the center of the island was quiet. A slight unnatural breeze through the cloud rustled the trees surrounding the clearing. There were no scurrying animals or flighting avian. There were no sign of fauna alive on the silent habitat. Two miles out through a path in the forest was a dock. Rickety in nature built by someone previously; the dock would hold at most a skiff and crew of four. Two men in shabby clothes sat on watch waiting for anyone to approach. Both men dressed in garb of a commoner and lightly armed, one with shortsword and another with a light crossbow. The swordsman edged himself over to the treeline and sat against a trunk. Looking to the other man with a toothy grin, he pulled a flask from his tunic and took a swig. “Did you imagine that when you took this job you’d be sitting up here on a cloud?” asked the crossbowman. “Eh, it does not phase me. I’m just here for the pay. These goons said they would pay and pay big. Any idea what they are going to do tonight?” responded the swordsman; taking another swig of the flask. “No, they wouldn’t tell me anything. Only thing I know is they don’t want any visitors.” A snap of twigs alerted both men. The swordsman came to his feet a bit startled. Whirling in place the crossbowman took aim up the path where the noise was heard. Emerging from the forested path fifty feet away were four men; a scant human with a bullseye lantern leading the way, a stocky dwarf with heavy crossbow followed up behind him, a half-elf with longbow in third position, and another lanky human with shortsword taking the rear. Recognizing the troupe of men the guardsman lowered his crossbow. Keeping to themselves the four men moved past the two guards towards the dock. Grabbing the mooring line from the skiff attached to the dock, the leader waited to step into the skiff. The other three men quickly set themselves into the small craft quietly. The leader stepped into the skiff and nodded to the rudderman. Swiftly they zipped through the cloud and away from the island leaving the two guardsmen alone again on watch for the night.

Morning activity on the Wind Sprite was bustling. The final day in port and the ship was making final checks for departure. Nustled on the deck of the vessel was a small skiff. As Owen Danwyck had promised earlier, Tybor delivered the skiff to the Wind Sprite for use in the recovery of his daughter. With the ship in preparations, Kaycian decided to visit Ashyra’s temple and attend service. “Kaycian, Sir, Capt’n..” Kaycian heard a small voice to his left. Looking for the source of the voice, Kaycian found Varlad sitting with him in the row. “Varlad, It is good to see you again. Have you found a new mentor?” questioned Kaycian getting up from his prayers and sitting himself back into the row. “Well sir that is what I am here for. I would like to request to rejoin the crew. I do not think the life of a paladin’s squire is for me. It is a noble profession, but it just is not the same without Sir Ozmeer. I would like to sign on with the Wind Sprite, if you will have me sir?” Varlad meekly looked upon Kaycian hoping for acceptance. “I would be glad to take you back into the crew. You will have the same responsibilities you have been assigned earlier and still report to Colwyn. When you are complete here, return to the ship and we can proceed on our way. The Wind Sprite is making departure this afternoon so do not delay in completing your needs here.” “Thank you sir, it will be an honor to serve under you. I will be at the ship quickly.” Varlad smiled excitingly leaving the captain to his prayers. After a bit of time Kaycian returned to the Wind Sprite and found Varlad already on board. With all the crew accounted for he ordered the Wind Sprite into action. Almost at a full compliment of crew now the vessel was swarming with sailors able in their duties. A couple of sailors removed the mooring lines with ease and shortly Thorpe and Colwyn whisked Wind Sprite out of dock and on it’s way to perimeter towers 22 through 24. “Baldrick, I want to approach on a dry run for perimeter tower 22 and 24. Get us within 200 yards and run us draft.” Spoke Kaycian from the quarterdeck, with his spyglass extended viewing the three target outerrim towers. Baldrick made motions and commands to comply for his captain. “Ohtar! Get the skiff ready. Boarding team! Prepare to depart! Baldrick, you have command until I return.” Collapsing his spyglass Kaycian boarded the skiff. With a slight twist and clutch of the rudder grip, the skiff launched into the air. Ohtar was definitely a skilled navigator and sailor. Kaycian remarked to himself how well it was to promote him to the officer ranks. Turning their attention to the tower, the party sternly viewed what they were about to face. Isolated against the sky the tower with beacon on top sits solemnly decaying from age. Approaching with caution Kaycian motions Ohtar to move the skiff towards the two feet wide ledge around the side of the base. Catching his foot on the rim of the skiff, Skragg stumbles out with an almost graceful move. Following closely behind him, Kaycian less nimbly leaps off the boat and on to the ledge as well. Finding the door locked the trow takes a quick crushing grip on the old handle. Contorted metal and splintering of wood gives way as the trow leans in on the door forcing his way into the small occupancy of the tower. Previously ransacked the tower holds nothing. Ascending the ladder with graceful ease, Kaycian opens the hatch to survey the roof. Convinced the tower is clear everyone loads into the skiff and returns to the Wind Sprite. “Well, we know what to expect in the tower. I do not like the edge being so small.” Kaycian began the discussion before they reached the Wind Sprite. “We should try another method to enter. Perhaps the roof,” mentioned Skragg. “Agreed, we should come through the roof hatch. The platform will surely be large enough to hold us all without risk of falling through. On the next run, we will descend from above the tower, via the skiff. This way if anyone is on the tower roof they will not see our numbers until it is too late.” Kaycian was determined it was the best method of approach for surprise and safety. Arriving over perimeter tower 22 the Wind Sprite drifted slowly with the wind current ready to pickup action at a moments notice. Ohtar kicked the skiff into gear and brought it over the side of the vessel. A slight wind picked up towards the objective and the skiff started to slightly buckle. Shrugging off the drag effects Ohtar compensated with ease. Looking over the side Kaycian spotted the tower below at thirty feet. Motioning Ohtar to stop Kaycian prepared to hop over the side. “Kaycian, I would like to have you wait until I can put a spell on you to ease your landing. In case the tower is not as strong to hold your weight.” Derth spoke monotonously. Kaycian complied with the resquest. Swirling black and green smoke seemed to fuse from Derth’s pores and move against the windflow towards Kaycian. Surrounding him with sparkling energy the mist subsided. Nodding with approval Derth acknowledged he was complete. Kaycian hopped over the side of the skiff and was gone from view. On the rooftop Kaycian landed with a soft thud. Not having familiarity with the spell cast upon he landed softer than anticipated and gave a slight compensation roll. Quickly securing the roof he looked up to the skiff and found Skragg halfway down already. Not worrying about providing a thumb up for clearance, he opened the door. Waiting for Skragg to clear the room below Kaycian watched with his bow ready. Landing on his feet the trow made a quick assessment of the room and found the same bare contents as before. Seeing everything is clear both boarded the skiff and prepared to move to the last tower for the real run. It was beginning to be dusk and the party had to make a decision. The meeting time was not for another five hours. On board the Wind Sprite the officer corps gathered around the galley for a quick conference of events to come. “We are going to run on the next tower just as we did this last tower, from the top. If anyone inside is waiting it will be better for us to have the platform to our advantage. If no one is inside then the skiff will leave and wait behind tower 22 with a load of archers from the Wind Sprite.” Kaycian looked to each of them in turn. “Ohtar, I want you to wait for the signal of the beacon going out. Bring the skiff to the front of the tower and cover anyone leaving or arriving with bowfire. Baldrick, I want the Wind Sprite to approach with the same signal. However I want you to wait five miles out. We should be able to handle anything a local gang may try to perform.” From up top Thorpe called for officer on deck. The officers in the galley gathered themselves and went topside to prepare for the last run. Skragg, Derth, Kethia, Squee, Kaycian, and Ohtar climbed into the skiff and lifted from the deck. Moving through the air with precision the craft descended on the tower and the motions ran the same. Derth cast a spell of mist surrounding Kaycian and the captain lept over the side. Landing on the tower skillfully, he noted the hatch was locked. Kaycian turned to find Skragg landing behind him. “It is locked. Can you open it?” Kaycian questioned the trow. With a thud and splintering of wood, the trow pounded the weak structure of the door and sent the hatch down. With nothing left to obstruct him Skragg descended into the tower. Waiting for clearance Kaycian stayed on top with bow drawn. Skragg looked around the tower and found two cots, a night table, and a satchel with fresh cheese and dried meat. Quickly confiscating and eating the foodstuffs, Skragg called the all clear. Everyone unloaded from the skiff and climbed inside. Ohtar returned to th

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