Adventure... on an Island
Standing on board the rolling ship as they made for the bay, Xander shook his head as he realized one undeniable fact, he was addicted to sailing. Ohh not the same as he was addicted to Twinkies or anything, but he could definitely see the draw of living on the water had for many. Now if only he could get over the stench of living on a small ship with the unclean.
Thankfully this world’s magic offset many of the more troubling sea going illnesses that would have made the situation truly unpleasant, yet at the same time added many more issues to the already fraught with peril occupation. Perils such as; blood leeches, krakens, dire sharks and scrags, the last of which they had fought a week earlier.
Thinking back on the fight, Xander rubbed his hand across the section of his torso that had been impaled on a corral spear a week earlier and frowned. By all rights he should have been dead, just another lost hero in the long history of dead heroes this world produced.
The Sea troll had clambered aboard out of the blue, slashing a surprised ship hand in half before launching an attack that had the whole crew fighting for their lives.
Climbing out of his cabin, Xander had blinked at the hulking monster before jumping from the upper deck, grabbing a spare sail line and landing on the wet deck with all the grace of a drunk albatross tap dancing. He tumbled across the deck and under the hulking brute’s clumsy swing in his direction.
Getting his feet back under him as he drew his cutlass, Xander danced back from the beast’s return swing before dropping under its follow up spear strike. Lashing out with his own blade, Xander scowled as his sword skittered off the wet hide and did little more than leave a thin red line down the behemoth’s side.
Glancing up, he frowned as he was backhanded away just as Isaaq entered the fray, his massive Zwiehander doing what Xander’s cutlass could not. Shaking the stars from his eyes, Xander rejoined the battle at hand, tumbling under the beast to get around it and laying several slashes to the troll’s back and side. Making a mental note to stay behind his enemies more often, Xander frowned in consternation as the massive beast refused to do the right thing and simply die, preferring instead to spend its time hacking up the rather unsteady looking Paladin. He saw
Mican and Wakueena stayed at a distance and peppered the monster with ranged attacks.
Finally growing tired of the fight, Xander took a step to the side to try and strike at the troll’s neck. The next thing he knew the massive beast had stepped into his personal space just as his blade had come down in a mighty blow.
For a moment, Xander had felt a cold spear of ice in his stomach before glancing down at his hand. He could still imagine the blood and bile that had covered his hand as he grasped the spear shaft that had so rudely entered his flesh as he stared at the shocked eyes of the sea troll, just before the beast’s head had rolled from its shoulders.
Xander had gone to his grave pleased that he had managed to at least take the giant monster with him. And then he had woken up. Wakueena smiled down at him as he lay amidst the blood and gore of the battle before she jerked the spear out of his slightly glowing gut. She’d then waded back into the fray as the party and crew worked to dissuade the half dozen fish people on board from taking advantage of the sea troll’s attack.
Supposedly he had only been mostly dead at that point and his own personal Miracle Max had saved him.
Making a mental note to buy the short girl something special when they made it to the next town, Xander took a moment to glance back at the horizon and shook his head. The reminiscing had not helped the situation and the storm was closing fast.
Shaking his head again as he looked back towards the sheltered bay they were making for, Xander knew it would be close.
Hours later, Xander sat in his cabin as the party, sans bruins, joined him. Looking up, he focused on Wakueena and her brother “Alright, you said that the weather was clear, how the heck did we end up running from the storm of the century two hours later,” he asked as the two drenched halflings wrung their cloaks out before setting them to the side.
“The portents were clear, there should be no storm,” Wakueena said irritably as she shook the water out of her hair for a moment before tucking it back into place. “That this damnable weather is here at all bodes ill for us. Either a mage of some power has set his sights on us or some greater power. Either way I want nothing to do with them,” She said before taking a seat and grumbling about meddling gods and their disruption of the natural world for their own petty desires.
In all it was a rant that the party had heard several times before over the last three weeks of sailing towards Snowdown. Shaking it off, Xander turned his gaze to Mican who shrugged before taking a seat by his sister. “While I will ignore her ranting about the greater powers, I have to agree with my sister. There is no way this storm is natural. It has the flavor of something more… sinister,” he explained as he rubbed the talisman he kept under his shirt before looking back at Isaaq and Xander. “Whatever is causing this wanted us here, and it wants us kept here.”
“Well that’s not ominous at all,” Xander snarked before looking over at their resident holy man and cocked an eyebrow at him in silent questioning as he silently stood by the desk.
“While I am no weather mage, I must agree that certain elements of the storm are unnatural,” the large black man said before folding his arms over his chest and obviously thinking on the situation some more. “Though I will disagree on the dark leanings. Many times storms are used by the gods to send us to the location in which we are most needed,” he explained as Xander interrupted him with a snort.
“Next time they can just send us a message like everyone else,” he grumbled before holding his hands up in surrender at the Paladin’s glare at his near blasphemous comment.
“While the storm has led us astray, there has been little damage to speak of and yet we find ourselves in one of the few sheltered harbors in all the Trackless Seas,” he explained before shrugging. “I would suggest we take this time to explore the island we find ourselves on and try to ascertain why we have been summoned here.”
Glancing at the other two, Xander finally groaned as they nodded in agreement. “Fine, send a landing party to shore to set up a base camp and search for supplies when they can,” Xander ordered as he rose and began to gather his gear. “Let Master whats-his-face know that he has the ship until we return and let’s get this done,” he grumbled before the party broke up and began to prepare for their ‘adventure’.
Watching them go, Xander looked down at the crimson silk shirt he was wearing before shaking his head and going to change. No way in hell was he going to be a redshirt on a landing party, thank you very much.
Several hours later, Xander took a moment to think back on that moment with a frown. He decided that if he had known then what he knew now he would have stayed on the damn ship, portents be damned. Stomping through the wet, forested island, Xander snarled out a nearly silent curse as yet another large drop of freezing rain managed to find its way magically through his hat, cloak, jacket and shirt to strike his spine and dribble down his back.
Nothing he had read in the old adventure stories had done anything to explain precisely how uncomfortable it was to adventure in the northern parts of the world during the fall and winter months. In his not so humble opinion, it sucked. It was cold, wet, grey and miserable all around.
Growling as yet another drop of rain managed to surpass his defenses, Xander almost missed the snap of a twig. Glancing in that direction, he blinked as a snarling man jumped from behind one of the trees and charged the party with an axe, ready to cleave them in two. His shock at the sudden attack was short lived though as his time on the hellmouth did plenty to break him of the, ‘Freeze when suddenly attacked’ habit.
Jumping back from the man’s swing, Xander drew his cutlass before diving forward again. Twisting away from the attacker’s chop, Xander struck like a snake, drawing a line of blood down the man’s chest before blocking the axe with his sword. The two weapons ground against each other for a moment as each man struggled for dominance before Xander flicked his left hand out and felt the reassuring weight of a hidden blade fall into his palm. In a flash, the small blade was buried in his attacker’s chest, much as he had done a hundred times before with the vampires of his hometown.
The man’s look of shock as he stumbled away from Xander’s attack allowed the Sunnydalian a moment to move forward and finish the man off with a strike to the neck, killing him and leaving Xander to turn his attention to everyone else.
The others were finishing up their own opponents, the two bears helping their owners with their fight as Isaaq impaled his opponent with a long spear he had procured from somewhere. Glancing about, he was surprised to see the Isaaq’s massive Zwiehander broken next to a rather large form, presumably who he had liberated the new weapon from.
As the last opponent fell, Xander forced down the bile in his throat at the dead men and women around him before focusing on his crew as they searched their attackers for anything of value. Swallowing the sick feeling away, Xander cleared his throat and nudged one of the corpses. “So does anyone know who these guys were,” he asked and shrugged at the others confused looks. “You know, just in case this isn’t a random attack, but is part of some grand plot to kill us all and sacrifice our souls to some big bad,” he explained as the other three looked at each other again before turning their attention once more to their downed opponents.
A quick search finally had Mican chime in after wracking his brain for possible answers as to who had just attacked them. “I think they are, or at least were, crewmembers of the ‘Red Feather’ under Captain Jules Ala’Sandra.” He collected several pieces of random junk before nodding and looking at the crew proudly before his face dropped at the confused look the rest of the party had at the ships name. “The Red Feather?” he pressed. Sighing at the lack of acknowledgement, he explained, “Ten years ago, the Red Feather was a Pirate Ship that sailed the Lanthean sea under the command of Captain Jules Ala’Sandra. Primarily targeting Sword Coast traders, they amassed a considerable fortune before they were chased into a storm by privateers, never to be seen again.”
He held up several of the tokens he had taken off the corpses. “Each Crewmen would earn a token after a voyage, allowing them to purchase a greater share of loot after each attack,” he explained before glancing at the gathered tokens and frowned at the limited number they had gathered.
His warning was a moment too late though, as a Lightning bolt slammed into Isaaq’s back, sending the Paladin to the ground as a manic voice laughed hysterically at the attack.
Turning to the source of the attack, Xander, Mican, and Wakueena were more than a little surprised at the appearance of a rather short goblin brandishing a staff with a red feather tucked into his hair.
“Cower in fear mortals, for you face the might of Captain Jules Ala’Sandra, reborn!”