Return to Caldera

Session 4: Journey's end

The hag is released and the heroes find themselves taking a not so quick nap.

This session began in the midst of battle! The heroes were busy trying to hold off the massing pirates as Keridwen unlocked the hag from her magical prison. Thoradin had things well in hand, however, his mighty hammer inflicting many fractured bones and ruptured organs as pirate fodder fell before him. Calitris was also holding her own as each swipe of her feline claws seemed to fell yet another of the sea-dog slavers. Skitch was contributing in his own way, employing a rather potent dart gun against his former fellows whilst Nic and Oranna were holding the backline, supporting their brethren with bardic songs and magic missiles respectively.

Skitch

Three seals were down and the Hag was getting restless. Keridwen, still unsure about the decision to free the creature proceeded with caution, despite the ruckus going on behind her. Crabseye, distraught that the heroes are attempting to free the hag, wades into that ruckus, striking out with his demonic powers. He comes face to face with Thoradin, who is becoming more and more unhappy with the lingering presence of the warlock. The hammer-wielding dwarf does a good job of cracking the bad egg, but Crabseye smiles through bloodied teeth and clenches his fist – ice shards quickly form around him, organising themselves into a solid set of plate armour complete with skull-adorned helm. It looks as though he’s ready to stand up to the dwarf (despite the fact that the latter is half his height).

Crabseye

It’s about this time that a rather large blackscale enters, barely squeezing through the door. It glares hungrily at the heroes, using it’s extensive reach to swipe at Thoradin from behind its allies. Calitris respods, stepping back and caging the creature in a prison of buffeting winds! It roars in anger, swinging wildly, before bringing his club down onto Thoradin, flatening him despite his dwarvish resilience. Immediately regaining his footing however, the headstrong battle veteran delivers a devastating blow to the ice-armoured Crabseye, bringing him to his knees, “See now, lad? That’s why yeh always go with metal armour!” Thoradin smiled, feeling victorious. Crabseye smiled back, another line of blood dripping from his mouth down an already soaked chin. He raises his finger, pouring a raging, infernal fire into the dwarf’s armour, cooking the stout hammerbearer before fleeing the room past the aforementioned blackscale.

...pouring a deep and infernal fire into the dwarf's armour...

The blackscale moves, dispelling the Calitris’ wind prison; but the enchantment leaves rather violently, and a few of his allies are pushed to the ground as it does so. Crabseye, now looking into the room from without, summons an impenetrable darkness. It swirls around him momentarily before streaking toward our intrepid heroes! A few are caught in the sudden night and invisible shadow-sprites tear shreds from their flesh. Crabseye cackles with pleasure.

...the enchantment leaves rather violently, and a few of his allies are pushed to the ground as it does so...

Captain Blaggard finally makes his way into the fray, pleading with the heroes to cease their attempt to free the hag, “Everyone will die if she is freed!” The sincerity in his voice causes Keridwen to falter in her unlocking ritual as the hag tries to reassure her that it will harm only Blaggard and his men. Oranna, meanwhile, is distracted by the captain as well. She teleports to his side, suddenly conflicted – she wants to believe in the man she knows as a symbol of freedom, but is seeing so much evidence to the contrary. When he does not help her after being beset by some of his crewmen, her decision is made. She fights against him, and he solemnly draws his sword to fight her.

Meanwhile, Thoradin has pursued the much bloodied Crabseye to the back of the ship. The two trade epic blows, the dwarf swinging his hammer with practiced savagery and the warlock calling on every dark power he possesses to fell the rampaging warlord. In the end, however, Thoradin’s hammer cracks into Crabseye’s chest, cracking his ribcage and breaking his jaw. The warlock falls to his knees. Behind him, the back of the ship tears open as a large demonic portal forces itself into existence! From this portal two, large, red-skinned hands reach outward. Crabseye has only a moment to scream before they snatch him and drag him into the hellish abyss. His cries of abject terror ring over the fray even after the portal closes itself and the ship is restored.

That’s when Keridwen opens the last seal.

The hag smiles plainly and takes a solemn breath; it then disappears in a cloud of purple smoke, reappearing fifty feet ahead in front of a suddenly terrified Blaggard. She brings her scythe-like claws to bear on the captain; drawing large gashes over his face which spray blood onto the wooden ceiling. He flees, holding his face. Our heroes decide that this may be the best time to beat a hasty retreat of their own. They make for the portal to the Stormseye and each, one at a time, leap to safety. Back on the Ghostly Stallion, meanwhile, the remaining pirates attacking the hag suddenly find themselves very sleepy. They topple over whilst she, cool as a cucumber, glides out of the room after Blaggard.

On the Stormseye, our heroes debate for quite a while as to what they’re going to do regarding this ship. Eventually, they decide to take it by force, but as they rush out to do battle, they see that everyone seems to have fallen into a deep sleep. The pirates and the passengers both. They wander up to the top deck a little perplexed by the situation, when they see one of the pirates lurch to a semblance of life. Though seemingly still asleep, the pirate begins piloting the ship, followed by a voice like nails on a chalkboard above them, “Don’t worry about getting to Caldera. It’s taken care of”. The Hag sits on the main mast, looking out to sea. They question her for a brief time, but she seems uninterested in talking. After a minute, our heroes too feel sleepy. Unable to stay awake, they each fall asleep, the last thing they see is the hag’s face looking down at them, smiling through crooked, yellowed teeth.

They dream. Or, rather, have nightmares. They’re in a desolate, distant place and watch as Captain Blaggard is systematically tortured. Parts are cut off, skin is peeled, things are boiled, bashed and broken. Everytime it seems as if he’s about to pass on, he’s suddenly revived and the torture continues. The whole time, the hag looks on, laughing with an eerie glee.

When they finally do awake, the ship has beached itself on a foreign shore. The other passenger carrying ship in Blaggard’s fleet, the Silent Harpy, is beached nearby. Oranna does not wait for the conversation to begin. She races off the ship as fast as she can whilst the others try to discern what has happened and where they are. It is here that Oranna meets the hag again. The latter smiles at the Eldarin, in the creepy, unnerving way that she does most things, “You know, I thought I recognised you. It took me a while to remember where, but I finally put my finger on it”; as she says this, she lifts one of her fingers, before breaking it off and handing it to Oranna. The hag continues, “Hold on to this for me. Keep it safe. I’ll be back to claim it in the future.” With that she is gone, and her presence is replaced by the sound of horses galloping through the forest. Startled, Oranna teleports into the nearest tree, and watches as a small contingent of armoured men and women ride past beneath her. There are a mixture of riders – humans, dwarves, tieflings, elves, dragonborn and even a halfling. She recognises the banner they hold – it’s that of Oloret Stoor! She runs after the riders who make their way to the ships, where the others are still unsure of their situation and Ell is busy stealing a dagger from Grimscale’s quarters. The riders call out to those on the beached ships. Our heroes respond and discover, much to their delight, that they’ve reached Caldera at last!

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