Live by the Die

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Write Up of the Game on April 10, 2010.
ray20886 wrote in livebythedie

My name is Derf Marshall and it’s a “sailor's life” for me. Smelling the fresh sea air every morning, visiting new ports and seeing things I had never seen before, what could be better? It's a surprise to me that I don't see more halflings as sailors. Did you know that 90% of all halflings have a gypsy lifestyle? Moving from town to town and living off the land instead of owning the land. Halflings never own anything that cannot be moved, and that's why the majority live in wagons and some on river boats. So a sailor's life is ideal. The ship is your house which moves with you wherever you go and since I'm only a hired hand on the ship I don't even have to own it - leave it behind when the time is right.

We pulled into the new city, its name’s not important, just another stop for the ship. My captain, Captain Stadgraff, needed to buy more goods to fill the ship hold and then try to resell in another city. Since my talents are not needed for this, and I do not get paid when we are in port, I have decided to explore the country side around the city. I’ll check in once or twice a day to see how the captain is progressing and when we might leave again.

One afternoon, a few days after docking in port, I was flying around on the back of Glider, a dire hawk, and spotted a figure leaving the city towards the forest. I usually notice people trying to look up at me and even sometimes waving, since a halfling riding on the back of a bird that is as big as a human is pretty uncommon. But this person seemed to be a little bit more anxious; this person wanted me to land. I started a slow descent and realized it was my shipmate, Xana. As I landed next to her, she immediately started talking.

“We have found an adventure to go on.” She said. “It would appear that people from the city are disappearing at night, never to return. The town is offering a reward to anybody who can stop it. Would you like to join us?”

“Yes, it does sound more fun and profitable than training my bird.” As I got off of my mount, Xana and I started back towards the city. She told me about the missing men, the city's reward money and their plan to find out what was happening. Since the abductions were of drunken men, occurring late at night after the bars close, the plan was for Atlas to act as bait - pretend to be drunk and leave the bar at closing time to lure the abductors. The rest of us would be hidden in the shadows close by waiting to attack. Seemed like a sound plan.

Later that night.

Just as it was starting to get dark, we began our stakeout. Atlas waited in a bar for closing while Xana and I were on roof tops to the north and south of the bar. Silk and Lilly were in the alleyways to the east and west. Since the bar wouldn’t close for another four or five hours, we would have a long wait.

Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary; acolytes came by and lit magical lamps along the wharf. When one wouldn't light, they took note of it and moved on. I can only wonder if the broken lights were due to a lack of maintenance, or part of the abductor’s scheme. Sailors walked to and from their ships and the bars, some seeming more drunk than others but always in pairs. Apparently these abductions were getting everybody scared. No one wanted to walk alone at night.

Finally it was closing time; Atlas emerged from the bar alone and staggered from side to side. I wasn't sure if he was drunk or just acting, but it looked believable. The night stood still and it seemed to become quiet, I didn't even notice the sound of the ocean. It was intense trying to spot the abductors before they had a chance to strike Atlas. Not that Atlas was weak, but an ambush can take down the best of mercenaries. Then all of a sudden there was a large crashing sound, and then laughter from behind me. It would appear that Xana decided to jump from building top to building top, and missed. Lilly broke into laughter for Xana’s misfortune; I was concerned it was loud enough to tip off any abductor.

And then I heard a splash coming from behind. Whatever it was, it was not the standard sea-pounding against the wharf. I jumped onto Glider and took to the skies to find the source. My search was hampered by the buildings; the only way to search alleys between the buildings was to fly directly over them. But I did find an area that the noise was coming from. Starting from the sea, there was a large stretch of water drenching the ground, which quickly changed into a single set of wet footprints. Circling the area twice to ensure that no one was hiding in the shadows I landed to inspect the water trail more closely. Whoever or whatever made this trail, it stopped as soon as the water stopped dripping from his body.

Another dead end; so I returned to the group. After informing them of what I had found, Atlas advised he was hearing a strange noise coming from below. On a closer search of the area we found a sewer grate, even though it did not seem to be disturbed, we were sure that the noise came from there.

Allowing the muscle of the party, Atlas, to do the heavy lifting, he removed the grate, exposing a tunnel below. Below the 8 foot diameter tunnel with standing water that swayed back and forth with the sea waves. Off to one side was a 2 1/2 foot wide path that was not covered by the water. One by one we entered.

Since we were already oriented with the general layout of the land above, we knew following the tunnel to the south should lead us to the sea exit. To ensure there was nothing there, we moved southward to check the exit. Even though it was gated, it was not lock, at least we cleared it, and so no one will be surprising us from behind.

Continuing, Silk lead the way a good 30 feet in front of the rest of us, followed by Atlas, Lilly, Xana and then myself. We had continued past our entry point and further into the depths when Silk turned back and joined the group. “It opens up into a large circular room” she said. At which point, Atlas took the lead closely followed by Silk. When the group reached the room, a wave of water rushed toward us.

A dark figure leaped upward out of the water, trying to wrap his claws around Atlas. Instinctively, Atlas launches his spike chain up, catching the beast under the chin and forcing him back. Providing the breathing room he needed for the flight. A second wave came rushing in, this time a beast turned his attention to Silk, and started to claw at her face and chest.

The fight was on; each member has their own unique style of fighting. Atlas and Silk stood toe to toe with the large creatures fighting them with spiked chain and dagger, respectively. Lilly, our war mage, jumped into the 3 foot high water in advance on the creature, using her touch spells as a weapon. And Xana, the scout and archer, notched an arrow and fired.

Maybe it was because I was the smallest person, or the newest member, I was last; maybe they were just trying to protect me. Even though I'm not sure my position in the rear gave me the best view of the battle. Maybe the only reason they bring me on these missions is for my magical healing powers, and they will soon be needed.

At the back, you can see how fast things can go wrong. Lilly's light armor was nothing to the beast’s claws; they ripped through her it tearing flesh from her body as blood rushed out of the gashes. Even though she was hit and bleeding, Silk found a way to get the beast’s attention away and onto her.

Moving forward, I grabbed a scroll from my holster case, a very good thing for quick retrieval. Standing behind Lilly, I read the words, feeling the tingling in my hand and a small glow appeared on her lower back. The spell was regenerating her wounds slowly but surely. Next I grabbed my wand and reached out to touch Silk with it. The wand carried many charges to cure light wounds; a spell designed for healing during battle. It was quick, but the outcome was a little unpredictable. If cast incorrectly, the recipient could see little effect and then charge into battle not knowing how wounded he or she was.

Atlas was holding his own; his full plate armor had interlocking plates that strengthened his armor as long as he did not need to walk forward. Atlas exchanged blows with the beast over and over again. I thought that Atlas would be able to defeat him, until the beast was able to grabbed them both pulled down. They disappeared beneath the surface of the water.

What remained above water level was one beast against three opponents with a healer. The beast had no chance to live, between being stabbed with a rapier, shot with arrows and being struck with magic, it quickly fell dead beneath the water. Victory, except we didn’t know what had happened to Atlas.

Silk and Lilly dove into the water. In the center of the room, the water was much deeper than 3 feet and much darker. The water totally obscured vision so fighting within it was fighting blind. But that did not stop Xana from launching a few arrows into the pool.

As Xana and I waited for any sign of what was happening below, the beast that we had already killed suddenly leapt up and started to attack again. I finally got a good look and realized he was a sea troll. Trolls have a natural regeneration power and this one was no different; if you looked closely enough you could see his wounds starting to close. This time he was focused on Xana, but with her speed she was able to dodge beyond his reach and fire her bow.

Calling upon magic, I brought a flame into my hand and threw it at the troll. It collapsed one more time but would heal and regain consciousness again. “They're trolls - use fire or acid against them!” I yelled as I continued to hurl small fireballs at the creature. The troll stopped moving for good and Xana, taking precise aim, fired her bow through the creature to be sure it was truly dead.

Silk and the other sea troll erupted from the water. Knowing their locations, I used magic to summon a squid on the opposite side of the troll from Silk. I knew the squid would not harm the troll, but it would provide a distraction to allow Silk to get a favorable position on the beast as she sunk her blades into its chest.

The battle was finally over but still no sign of Atlas. Until, from the center of the room the water stirred and a hand appeared on the metal ladder coming from the water to the ceiling. Slowly, Atlas emerged from the murky water and took a giant gasp of air. You could see the dents in his armor and his blood seeped through the plates. Xana threw a rope and helped drag him up to the ledge, where I started to heal him using my magic.

It only took about five minutes for me to heal everyone, so we further scouted the sewer system. To the west, the sewer system tunnels got so small that I would have a hard time getting through, and since the sea trolls were much larger than humans, we knew that it was impossible for them to go any further in that direction.

To the north was a net that caught trash that people threw into the sewer to prevent it from reaching the sea. Even though the netting did not look like it was disturbed, I had a feeling that the trolls might have taken it down and placed it back up as they passed through. Going on a hunch, I removed enough netting to pass and started to explore north.

These tunnels are not much different from the ones to the south except for the rats. As we walked through, rats scurried away from us, afraid of what we might do to them. Or, they might know something that we don't. Concentrating on my magic, I focused on the rats, allowing our minds to merge almost as one. This allowed me to talk to the rats and for them to talk back. “Hello there.”

“You can talk to us?” Asked one of the rats.

“As easily as you are talking to me” was my reply. “If you don't mind, would you answer a question for me?”

“First we have a question, you got any food?”

“Of course, how silly of me, how ‘bout some bread and cheese?” As I dropped my knees to pull out my food and offer it to them, they slowly came up to accept it. Thinking that these rats should know every inch of the sewer, I started to ask them where I might be able to find items. The conversation was not as easy as I hoped for since the rats do not know the names of items, so it took some time to describe what I was looking for.

It took time, but I learned that men from the city only came down to the sewers for short times to change things around and to return to the surface. No one ever left anything behind such as crates, boxes or barrels. And for the trolls, they call them long tooth. The rats said that the long tooths never travel past the netting. And the rats never go past the netting themselves in fear of being caught and eaten by them. With this information, I knew that the sewer system to the north of the netting would be a dead end.

We all return to the circular room, where Xana and Silk started searching the walls carefully. They found a secret door on the east wall. After Silk checked to ensure that it was not trapped, she stepped forward only to find a claw reaching through to grab her.

Another sea troll was waiting for us, but why he didn’t join the earlier battle was a mystery. He focused his attack on Atlas and to my surprise; Atlas was not trying to fight back. Instead he was in a full defensive stance, dodging and weaving and blocking the blows without retaliation. I wanted to prove to the group that I could fight. Casting flame blade, a 3 foot shaft of fire emerged from my hand that I could wield as a sword. I maneuvered in beside Atlas and attacked the beast. Blow after blow struck the beast, and he was not able to regenerate the damage due to the fire. In short order, he went down. To ensure that the troll would not get up, I ran my Fire Blade up and down his body trying to ignite any cloth the troll was wearing.

As the sea troll caught fire, Atlas moved forward. The hallway we entered opened into a larger room and as soon as we reached the entrance I heard a hissy voice call out. It was in a language I did not understand, but Atlas seemed to know it and responded back. Later I would learn the language was Giant. It came from one of two female sea trolls, both with young. She said that we killed their mates and doomed them to death as well.

In agreement with the group, Atlas responded that we were protecting the city from their attacks and if they agreed to leave the city we’d give them the chance to live. After some hesitation the female sea trolls agreed. As the group backed away from the entrance, we watched as the four sea trolls swam out of this room and down the tunnels to the sea.

s we searched their nest, we found a lot of interesting items, a ring, a gem, a dagger in a spear and a shield. All these items were magical and we knew them to be valuable, but what they might be, or what they could do, we would have to wait for a little while. On top of that, there were gold, silver and platinum coins scattered around the room. It was all collected and shared among us.

And then Xana stumbled upon another secret door, within this secret room. Once opened, it revealed an even larger treasure: many bolts of silk, crates of fine quality broadswords and ten kegs of brandy. These two secret rooms turned out to be an old Smugglers cubby that had been forgotten, probably once the sea trolls moved in and chased out the Smugglers. Once sold, all this would be worth a king’s ransom.

Lilly got hold of our captain and he sent over a small rowboat which the items were loaded into and then conveyed back to the ship. Then my mates did something I could not believe. They just handed over the smuggled goods to Captain Stadgraff as the ship's cargo for him to sell! Even though the captain promised twice the going rate, and at first I thought this was great, I quickly learned that my mates are part owners of the ship for 10%. Even with the captain’s offer to double that, that was 20% and I would get an equal share of this 20%. We could have gotten fare more selling it directly; my companions have no business sense.

Well maybe next time. As soon as the sun rose the next day, we found ourselves on the ship sailing out of the port for destinations unknown. However, there would be adventures to be had I was sure. And what are a few coins anyway? Nothing compared to the unknown that is coming my way. I love being a sailor.


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