The dim pre-dawn light revealed the Reaver’s Isle rising low and dark against the grey horizon. With the sounds of splashing oars, creaking ropes and gruffly shouted orders Svein Karlssen’s ship Sea Hammer came alongside Lassa’s Grace and Karlssen came aboard. After some consultation it was agreed that the Sea Hammer would stand by and wait for a signal from Karlssen’s horn, which he handed to Skagharin. Wasting no more time, the dwarven captain steered a course around the island. The east coast was predominantly shingly beaches and low hills. No shelter there from either storm or prying eye. However, near the high peninsula to the north he spotted a hidden cove which would be perfect to conceal Lassa’s Grace.
Though long at sea, Skagharin was but recently a captain and navigator. The entrance to the cove was too shallow and submerged rocks scraped the keel with a splintering sound. Lassa’s Grace had been damaged and would need repairs. Skagharin figured she might need to leave in a hurry, so it would be best to repair her immediately. Moonshadow, Dintari and Melisana helped to beach the ship so that it could be inspected and repaired.
Bored with this mundane work, itching for action, Brutarl climbed the dunes and wandered inland. After a while he returned with a small, ragged fellow, an escaped halfling slave called Jorry Muttonchops. After a swig from Skagharin’s rum bottle and a bite to eat from the ship’s provisions, Muttonchops told his tale. He had escaped from the reavers’ outpost by climbing out of an unused window and scavenged his way north. He had feared pursuit by the reavers, but they did not bother to leave their outpost. Moonshadow, Dintari and Skagharin decided to take the halfling south with them to investigate the stockade.
The Old Gods’ monolith
Leaving Melisana with the repaired boat (Skagharin knew she could not sail it alone), Moonshadow, Skagharin, Dintari, Brutarl, Parius and Jorry Muttonchops set off to the south. The terrain was low scrubby hills. After a while the group came to a sunken swamp with an old stone monolith on a rise in the centre. Skagharin noted that the water level of the swamp had dropped rapidly recently. He wanted nothing to do with the monolith, but the others approached its dry island and he warily followed. Parius stepped up to the monolith — and suddenly writhing roots shot out of the ground and wrapped around everyone’s legs. Only Skagharin evaded the clutching vegetation. At the same time, the earth opened beneath Parius’ feet and he was sucked quickly below. Slashing himself free of the roots and creepers, Brutarl leapt to save Parius, but was too late. He and Skagharin dug frantically but found no sign of the half-elf. Then, just as suddenly, Parius was ejected from the ground, and the animated roots shrank back into the earth. Parius was muttering something about the Earth being in pain, but he seemed physically unharmed. The group quickly left the vicinity of this stone of elder gods.
Some distance beyond the monolith swamp, the reaver’s outpost came into view. It was a wooden stockade in a valley surrounded by light forest. A dock with a ship at anchor was nearby. Guards patrolled its walls, changing every half hour. Skagharin observed the stockade for some time before conferring with Dintari, Moonshadow and Brutarl on the best course of action.
Night of fire and noise
Skagharin returned northwards with Dintari. Together with Melisana, they sailed Lassa’s Grace to where the Sea Hammer lay at anchor. They persuaded Karlssen to land his warriors at the same hidden cove to the north of the island. This required some manouvreing of both boats as Sea Hammer had too much draft to fit in the narrow channel. The warriors marched southward to remain hidden from view north of the stockade. Skagharin and Dintari crept to the forest behind the stockade under cover of darkness with bundles of oil-soaked wood. They waited for the agreed signal — a blast on Svein Karlssen’s horn (now held by Moonshadow), which would trigger a fiery attack from all sides. The plan was for Moonshadow, Brutarl and Parius to sneak into the stockade by Muttonchops’ window, kill the guards and wolves, and throw open the gate with a blast on the signal horn.
(With additions and inserts from The Poesy of Parius)
Oh look, isn’t he pretty! I think he’s a chestnut-belted gnat eater but I can’t be sure. He’s perched right on top of one of Skagharin’s rune things.
I went along with Lorien and Brutarl to the fort because I didn’t want them to hurt the wolves. I can talk to them, you see. We climbed up the rope, dangling just as the poor little fellow Jorry left it. Through the window and we were in a dingy unused room in the fort. It was kind of cold and there was broken wood scattered around. I pulled out my throbbing treasure stick from the sunken island and waved it around. But no throbbing this time so I put it away.
We were walking into an old room with a latrine cupboard and it was getting really cold now. Lorien was looking for a stairs when suddenly a ghostly figure appeared, moaning and keening. Brutarl, up front, he went white as a sheet and bolted into the latrine, sobbing some kind of mantra.
“We come in peace, spirit,” I said. “Do not fear us.”
Moonshadow looked at me as if I was a fool, and even the ghost threw a chair leg at me. It shattered against the wall. Then I felt cold all over as the spirit tried to drain my soul. Lorien chanted the words of a spell and shot a magic missile into the ghost, which promptly vanished.
“That was a malevolent spirit, Moonshadow.” I told him. I opened the latrine door and held out my hand to Brutarl, who was still whimpering in there.