Session 12: “Season of the Witch”
From the journal of Adra Kellen:
Barrakas 27th, 818
I’ve finally been able to elude Soren. He has been following me ever since returning from the ‘Pirate’s Cove.’ At first it seemed he was just accompanying me on my errands and tasks, but it soon became clear that he was trying to get an understanding of my methods and tactics. While he seems to be friendly, I am cautious to reveal anything else to him. I have yet to truly understand why he’s visiting in the first place.
As for the ‘Pirate’s Cove,’ we finished searching the structures that filled the small cavern and gathered any valuable or useful items we found. In total there were three buildings, if you can call them that. A dilapidated structure served as a sort of barracks or housing for the pirates, while a smaller sturdier structure was used for storage. A kennel was crafted out of odd assortments of lumber. I deduced that while the structures had been here for some time, the scraps of lumber that patched holes or replaced rotten timber were stolen from our own town’s construction sites.
Within those structures we found various supplies that were confiscated and returned to the surface. One of the others sent word up the tunnel to request guardsmen and those of the town’s militia we could trust to assist in this operation.
A quick summary of the items the pirates had stolen or were using for trade:
· Food stuffs, including grain, salted beef, and fruit
· Mushrooms and a sort of fungal substance popular with the scaly-kind
· Bolts of Fabric, most of which reminded me of the clothing the Chull tribe’s women wear.
· Weapons of moderate quality, easily found within the River Kingdoms
· Building supplies, these seemed as though they were being brought here
One of the others had found a small box that contained several dragonshards. Within the collection there were only a single Siberys shard and two Khyber, while the rest were Eberron. These shards are now in my protection as many of the crafters here are not accustomed to using dragonshards in their work. Siberys and Khyber shards are far more rare and dangerous in the wrong hands.
The pirate’s ship itself is a sloop roughly twenty feet long, shallow draft with both sail and slots for oars. I am no expert on sailing or watercraft, so my details here will be scarce. An inventive shutter system completely blocked access to the cave’s entrance by water. It was remarkably hard to operate and left it to the dwarves to figure out.
Once above ground we spent some time locating the rightful owners of any stolen property, while the remainder was sold to local craftsmen and the like. I spoke personally to Akiros and his guards and informed them of what we had found and what precautions will need to be followed now that we have a hidden cove to worry about.
Barrakas 28th, 818
This morning I started early, as there was quite a bit to do. My first appointment was with the town guard, we discussed the recent catastrophes that had befallen our town and solutions to those problems. A new taskforce was created to deal with our new discovery of the underground sloop launch and the possibility of a more expansive tunnel network under the city. As Stone and Kurgar pointed out, there were several marks that indicated hidden passages within the route from the cove to the sinkhole and from the sinkhole to the fort. I still have not been able to locate these indications myself, dwarven stone senses and all that.
My next stop was at the small makeshift temple in town that Jhod and I use for services. As we don’t have a proper house of worship for any faith, the building serves both our needs. The recent victims of the werewolf were to be given burials later today by Jhod and their respective families, but I wanted to be sure that no ill had come to the bodies. I performed the Flame’s rites of the dead. While Jhod means well, the Host lacks the strength of the Flame. Perhaps he will soon see that.
I spent some time in town gathering intelligence and gauging the morale of the townsfolk. Rumors were abound about a merchant who came to town the other day who slayed a beast that was ravaging the livestock. While others were baffled by the talk of beasts and werewolves as many had not seen it that night. Of course, I received no credit for my actions. While I am content with the public not panicking, it would have been nice to have received some accolades. Though I guess my place remains in the shadows, while the others receive the applause and celebration.
Barrakas 28th, 818
By late afternoon I had rejoined the others at the garden out back of the brewery. Cedric shared that he had heard word from the dryad Tiressia. Wolfsbane was growing on the island of Candlemere and that variety was far more potent and capable of breaking the curse on the barbarian we had captive at the fort. Old Poon was within earshot and began to ramble about how there was a curse on the island. He spoke of ghosts and strange sounds and lights coming from the island. The shore was unapproachable and the island itself was forgotten. While the old man had a tendency to exaggerate and embellish I couldn’t help but feel a little uneasy about the prospect of visiting the island.
While Cedric and the others conversed, I decided that we ought to find someone who could deliver us to the island. We just found the sloop, but we were missing a pilot and crew. I asked about at the brewery’s tavern and was pointed in the direction of a half-elf named Lyla Zhalli. Lyla had been navigating the rivers here for some time now and was experienced in all manner of craft. She once sailed the open sea, but had recently come to travel the rivers as the need for good river captains had increased with the surge of settlement south of Rhest. She had fallen between jobs and was eager to take up our position as captain of our ship, the Balinor’s Helm. I didn’t name it. Apparently Boris had never left the cove and had designs on living down there. He renamed the boat and performed a blessing on it as soon as it was emptied of its previous cargo.
After introducing her to Cedric, Stone, and Kurgar I brought her to the ship. I was worried that Boris would scare her off with his eccentricities, but he was busy refurbishing the former pirates’ living quarters. I showed Lyla the ship and told her that we would need it ready by the next morning. It was terribly late notice, but she was still willing. The ship was made ready by the pirates the day before, but it would require some quick maintenance. She still needed to find able crew, but had some leads on some Gnomish sailors who had just arrived in town. I have no doubt she will be a fine captain and pilot of the ship. I only wish we didn’t have to deal with Gnomes.
Rhaan 1st, 818
Northern shore of Candlemere Lake
On our first day out on the Balinor’s Helm we’ve explored the entirety of the Tuskwater and have made for the northern shore of Candlemere Lake. There we departed the boat leaving it in the capable hands of Captain Zhalli and her gnomish crew. While we intend to visit the island of Candlemere itself, we decided it would be prudent to explore the regions around the lake. We had heard rumors of a witch’s hut and thought it best to see for ourselves. Captain Zhalli and the crew were given directions to map the shore of Candlemere Lake as we intend to walk the shoreline.
Rhaan 2nd, 818
Balinor’s Helm-Candlemere Lake
While walking through a particularly swampy area some distance from shore we came across the witch that we had heard rumors lived in the area. Stone had spoke to the strigani earlier in our expedition and they warned of a witch. He made some declaration about how he was better informed about the area than I was and I mocked his reputable sources. He called out and a woman’s voice answered. Stone explained he had heard of her through the stories of the strigani, she answered that she disliked the strigani. I was pleased to hear this. We approached her decrepid shack and I noticed that it was covered in arcane runes and glyphs, many holding religious importance. I was puzzled to see several that were in clear opposition of each other. Marks of the river god Hanspur, the Fey, Strigani iconography, and even the Host were depicted. Clearly, the signs were used to keep travelers at bay and scare off the uninitiated.
The witch, herself, was not evil. While I am sure she is corrupted from living out here in the wilds, she didn’t manifest any sickly auras that I expected. She introduced herself as the Beldame. I respectfully declined to enter her cramped abode, which offered little respite from the muggy weather we were experiencing. She made several off-color remarks about my figure while speaking to Cedric, who she believed to be my husband…
On more important topics, she warned of a mad hermit living in the woods not far from here. He wanders with a cat in tow. A barrow exists in the Kamelands which as legend states contains an unquiet dead and a weapon of great power. She also spoke of Candlemere, which she warned was forbidden, as do all that live in the region, yet none speak to why it is so. The Wolfsbane we seek is in fact on the island, but she cautions us that task will not be so trivial. There are things on the island that would see us harm. A great power resides there, resting. The old crone hadn’t given us any clearer a picture of what we would encounter than the townsfolk. She either was holding back from telling us, or she truly did not know.
We returned to the ship which met us near sundown at the shore. The Gnomes had begun to carve into the rails of the ship adding flourishes and adorning it with sailor’s wards. Lyla reported she had taken the ship around the lake and had it charted. Kurgar had remained on the ship and shared designs on how to better fortify the ship and the coastlines.