Taken by reavers! His ship sunk days ago, Skagharin hung chained in the bowels of the slavers’ ship, along with hundreds of others. The stink below decks was terrible. Each day the ugly slave master would shove a bucket of gruel to the slaves and as often as not crack his whip across some poor fool’s back. The key to their chains hung on a beam tantalisingly out of reach as the ship rocked and swayed across unfamiliar seas.
Skagharin observed his nearby companions in bondage, though he spoke little to them. Three humans: a meek woman; a capable-looking fellow, probably a southerner; a lean and menacing barbarian with mad eyes named Brutarl. Then there was Parius the half-elf man with sad dreamers’ eyes and, gagged always, a tall elf of unearthly beauty and uncertain gender, with a moon tattoo. Moon Man, Skagharin called him.
After many days, a wild storm rocked the boat. Shouts and screams could be heard above decks as the ship pitched and rolled and the wind howled. Most of the other prisoners were herded up on deck to help row. They never returned. After some time the decks above were silent. Then with a lurching crash, the ship ran aground, jerking Skagharin and his companions violently about in their chains. The ship split apart; cold rain, wind and water rushed in through a gaping hole.
Dintari the Southerner’s chains had come loose and he managed to wrench himself free. He reached for the key which still dangled from the beam above and unlocked the chains of his fellow prisoners. The girl, Melisana, thanked him. Shivering and blinking in the cold air, they considered their situation. The hatch was blocked. Skagharin and Brutarl peered out into the rainy gloom. There they saw a desolate beach with high cliffs on one side, empty except for..the slave master wandering drunkenly up and down, armed with a sword and a rum bottle.
Skagharin realised that they would need to get whatever they could from the ship. He and Brutarl attempted to climb up to the top deck. Brutarl shimmied up the wet timbers, but Skagharin slipped and fell into the cold water, twisting his ankle. He was joined on the shore by Parius and the Moon Man, who had now removed his gag and stood silent and strange beside them. The slave-master shouted and ran towards them with his sword raised. Parius uttered some words and suddenly the slave-master became compliant and almost polite. Parius invited him to drop his bottle and his sword (which Skagharin and Moonshadow—for such was really his name—picked up).
While the slave-master’s attitude to Parius had altered he still seemed leery of the other ‘cargo’ and he rudely demanded they return to the ship. At this point Brutarl and Dintari (who had quietly found an easier way up) returned from the upper deck. Dintari held a small chest under one arm, and Brutal sported a crossbow. Taking umbrage, Brutarl lunged at his former tormentor with an almighty roar which seemed to come from deep within. Stunned, the slave-master fumbled for dagger at his belt but he did not see Moonshadow behind him. The tall elf chopped the sword into the side of the slaver’s neck with a fluid motion, and then again. He staggered sideways and his blood stained the grey sand. Skagharin grabbed the dagger almost before the corpse hit the ground. Brutarl and Moonshadow begain to strip the body immediately.
Disgusted by this violence and coarse behaviour, Dintari and Melisana wandered away, looking for shelter from the rain and cold wind. Parius followed, and Skagharin, cursing and hobbling. Taking pity on his new companion, Parius laid his hands on the dwarf and healed his ankle. Skagharin was amazed, though mistrustful of the magic.
In the dunes with Melisana, Dintari halted at the sound of battle beyond a ridge. When the others had caught up, it was agreed that Brutarl and Moonshadow would scout ahead. Brutarl returned shortly and reported that a battle was indeed in progress. Several Goblins were fighting Lizard Men. Barbed spears, darts and arrows flew through the air. Brutarl wanted to see how the fight would end; Dintari, Melisana and Skagharin wanted to find shelter. Brutarl returned to Moonshadow, ostensibly to report the group decision.
After several minutes, Brutarl did not return. Skagharin clambered up a small hillock and peeked over it at the melee. The last Lizard Men had been been vanquished and the Goblins were heading up the rift towards an old man lying bound on the ground. Suddenly, the old man’s bonds fell away. As the lead Goblins neared him two of them collapsed to the ground. Then the Elf Lorien Moonshadow was there with his slaver’s cloak and brandishing the slaver’s long sword. More magic, sighed Skagharin to himself. The goblins charged, and the dwarf caught sight of Brutarl charging out to their flank. Skagharin backed down and quickly explained the situation to Dintari, who suggested they throw rocks at the goblins to unsettle and confuse them. Dintari turned out to be a crack shot too, hitting one goblin square in the head and bringing him down (Skagharin’s rocks all hit their targets, but with less force). Meanwhile Brutarl and Moonshadow were laying into the goblins down below. Moonshadow’s long sword slashed with murderous efficiency and soon the goblins were all dead.
The old man (whose name was Keestake) seemed to be some sort of bumbling servant, though he didn’t really explain how he had come to be in such a disagreeable position. He agreed to take the adventurers to a nearby temple to rest. Soon enough they arrived at an abandoned and ransacked, but intact structure, an old Temple of Lassa. It was good to get out of the rain, and Skagharin soon started a fire from broken furniture in the main temple room not far from the broken statue of the goddess. The old man told of the war between goblins and lizard men on the island over treasure, and how Lassa had sent a terrible storm in anger over the recent ransacking of her temple. The old man also spoke of an abandoned manor which the goblins thought contained treasure. The chest which Dintari had carried from the beach carried maps and charts, and Skagharin looked forward to poring over them on the morrow. There was mystery about this island. Lizard men, far from their natural clime at war with goblins? Skagharin wondered if this old man was what he seemed, and whether he could trust his new companions, and whether this temple was as empty as it seemed. But mystery was better than slavery, he decided.