When last we met, the party were sailing away from Ogre-land to rescue the captive boy-king Uther of the Bretons from Drow/Drannei.
Shortly after setting off, Captain Rengrave changed our course away from the Drannei ships towards the island of Sanctuary to get some help from the wise man there (who may or may not be a wizard, magic being illegal nudge-nudge wink-wink). He couldn’t join us as he sort of stole a sword from the wise man; we discovered later that this sword belongs to the King of the Bretons and that Rengrave had given it to Uther. So it’s not completely stealing.
The Island of Sanctuary is full of hippies who don’t enforce rules as stringently as other nations and this makes it a prime location for pirates (like our dwarf Ungrud) to visit and trade. That being said, it’s not a thriving metropolis or a bustling port or any other cliché, instead it’s a rather sleepy little village.
The wise man told us that the Drow had probably taken the boy because the Island of Lost Time can only be entered by a prince or king of virtue and that being only 12, Uther was probably virtuous enough. First, he would be taken to the Drow capital in order for them to ascertain his virtue. What they want with the Island of Lost Time is a complete mystery, and we were referred to the one person who claimed to have been there – an ex-associate of Ungrud, to whom Ungrud owed about two ships-worth of gold. Ungrud declined to join us in our interrogations. We were also left with a couple of zen statements – “when there is no time, there is always time” and the like.
In the pub, we found our adventuring dwarf who was only too happy to give up information. Apparently, the island appeared frozen in movement. Clouds moved overhead but no wind was felt, branches on trees did not shift and nothing moved on it’s own. No sounds. At night, the dead moved and watched him, with lips sewn shut, accompanied by faceless beings. He believes that they didn’t attack because of an amulet that he had, and freely gave to us (mentioning that wearing it felt like it took part of his essence). We left the amulet in our bags and headed back to the ships.
The only place to land on the Drow island was a place called Safe Landing. It had a temple on stilts that looked like a boat, dedicated (so a plaque said) to “The Only God”. Not a good sign to people with as varied a pantheon as us. We followed the river to the capital, and en-route were ambushed by ten camel riders. We hunkered behind our horses, and defended ourselves well (while trying to retrieve my war boomerang, I ended up leading two riders on a jolly chase where one fumbled and threw themselves to the ground to be trampled later) while the dwarfs and single human cut down the remainder.
As we looted the bodies, the sun set rapidly. We set a watch and a camp, and used looted blankets to keep warm in the cold desert night. During the night, we were awoken by a crowd of people who could apparently see in the darkness. We were invited to their camp for the night, guided by a “skrillfex” – a fox that they call their “day guide”. After a nice sleep in a comfortable yurt we did some investigating. The yurt was being guarded by two blindfolded men, and we learned about this tribe from a foreign mercenary called Tankred. He explained that these are the night people, and they never take their blindfolds off in the day. They are not fans of the Drannei, but would not help us recover the boy. Instead he directed us South, over the river, to a temple where we might find help.
The temple was a large, magnificent structure with domes and minarets, and many pillars all made of marble. Inside, the floor was covered in sand and as we walked across it, a small dervish whirled up in front of us and formed into a Djinn, who attacked. We defeated the Djinn and were greeted by the priestess of the temple who informed us that we had “passed the test”.
We were given a guide to aid us, who had taken a vow of silence – but seemed to have a pad of paper, so that wasn’t too bad. On our way through an abandoned and partially buried village, we took shelter from a sandstorm for the night. During that night, I had an odd dream… I woke up in the room as it would have appeared long before, when it was populated. I looked in a mirror, but the reflection was gone. Out of the window, I saw a beautiful city filled with life. A woman came into the room and started pouring water, and said “Find us” – but did not interact with me, or show any sign that she knew I was there.
Outside of the building, I tried to get breakfast from a market seller but my hands went through everything and he didn’t seem to know I was there. I headed to the nearest baths, and there saw Neptune. As a devout worshipper of the sea god (makes sense for a sailor), I genuflected and kneeled before him. He told me to bring time back to this place – time was taken, and time has to be brought back. It appears to be a spear with an hourglass scribed on the point.
Waking up, I explained the whole thing and am filled with a holy purpose. It’s not every day that one’s god gives them a mission personally! Our guide showed us an underground cavern filled with granite statues that looked exactly like the people I had seen in the dream. There were also hundreds of soldiers, all in granite. Our guide asked us (through passed notes) if we felt older (apparently, we did), and that we should leave immediately.
Resuming our journey to the capital to get the boy (who can go to the Island of Lost Time, being a prince of virtue, where we think we can find the spear), we are ambushed by desert warriors. Ungrud wandered off towards a mirage, I was trapped by bolas, the Ogre merchant fell into a ditch and our rigger was almost attacked by a bandit… who fumbled, and stayed underground, apparently. It took us a while to take them all out, one even continuing to fight after losing a leg (completely chopped off, fell on the floor, bleeding heavily, etc etc).
I’ll finish this off with a guest recap from one of our party, an elf (not me) that has unfortunately missed most of our sessions – may not have turned up since before we got to the Ogre capital!
Here we go!
Our intrepid heroes wandered the desert for many days, looking for a way out. They were tired and hungry and more than a little bit mad when they came across a strange sight indeed.
Sat before them, atop a small mound of rock, topped with the symbol of th e god of time, was a fat, bald man, who looked to be in his twenties. Around him were similar mounds of rock, each with a different holy symbol above it. In front of the man were bowls containing assorted nibbles. Some of the nibbles had been nibbled.
“Who are you?” Asked an adventurer.
The bald man replied; “I am… actually, I can’t remember my name.”
“Deckard Cain… that’s a name…” Mused one of the adventurers.
The heroes turned back to the bald man. “Why are you here?” Asked one, curious.
“In my youth, I murdered a man for sleeping with my wife, and then I murdered my wife for being unfaithful. Now I seek atonement from my god.” Answered the bald man.
“How long have you been here?” Asked a third adventurer.
“Enough with the questions! If you must know, it’s been 100 years, 10 months and 11 days… do you want the minutes?”
“No, no..! 100 years? Bloody hell, mate, you look good for your age.”
“Yeah, well, my people are immortal, you see, on account of them worshipping time and all that.”
“That’s pretty cool. From whence do you hail, oh bald man?” Asked a forth adventurer.
The bald man looked at him wearily, clearly tired of this incessant questioning. “I’m from Niceass. It’s a lovely city in the desert.” His eyes glazed over as he recall ed his home town with longing.
The adventurers looked at each-other, in uncertainty. One piped up, “Er… bald man..?”
“What is it?” Snapped the bald man, “I’m not used to visitors, y’know. I do hope you’ll all bugger off soon, so I can enjoy the afterno on sun in peace.”
“Well it’s just… You see…”
“Out with it, man! I don’t have all day, you know! This atonement business is busy work!”
“You might as well just tell him,” said another adventurer.
“Look. Your town’s dead. Everyone is dead. Niceass is a dead town. It’s been dead for ages. Dead.”
The bald man sat in shocked silence for a few minutes.
“Way to break it to him gently…” One of the adventurers muttered.
There was some shifting of feet.
“Right. Well… Bugger.”
[Later that day, the group stands once again before the bald man with no name.]
“Well he clearly gets his food from somewhere…”
“Yeah, a bunch of dark elves drop it off every week.” Chipped in the bald man, munching a mushy banaramitz.
“Right, so we j ust wait here for a bit. Follow the elves back… get the girl and hightail it out of there.”
“Boy,” came a voice from the back.
“Boy. Get the boy and hightail it out of there.”
“Since when has any story been about rescuing a boy?”
“Look, I don’t write them, okay? I’m just here, in the desert, with a pocket full of mouldy bananaramitz and sunburn, just like the rest of you.”
“Mouldy banan… you’ve still got your bananaramitz??”
“Damn… I wondered what that stink was…”
Most of the group of adventurers, as one, step away from one of their members, who looked a bit redder.
[Later still, a small band of dark elves appears on the horizon…]
“They’re here, look busy!”
The adventurers scurry around. One of them tries to hid e behind a small pebble, before following the others to sit atop one of the remaining piles of stones.
[The dark elves come…
The dark elves leave…
The group follows the dark elves… ]
As they thought, the dark elves travelled back to their city in the desert. It was a monstrous place, with high walls and a closed gate. In the shadow of the wall sat a slum – a ramshackle place of lean-to houses and mud. As the group entered, they were assessed and the two elves were inked with a ‘B’ for ‘Breeding Stock’. There was much jesting, and the human was much put out at the fact the ugly elf was marked for breeding, yet he was not.
During the night, it was established that breeding might not necessarily be a good thing… The group hatched a plan that involved sneaking out of the cam p and through a secret entrance in the wall. Their guide had got them this far and was sure he could get them into the city.
Sadly, the best laid plans sometimes fail, and this one wasn’t one of the best. As the group snuck out of the camp, one of their members tripped over and was spotted by a lookout. Before he could try and talk his way out of trouble , one of the other heroes tried to slit the throat of the lookout, but only scratched his neck. The lookout screamed out in pain and woke several others. With the camp heating up, the group ran for it, almost leaving behind the unfortunate adventurer with the blunt knife.
And so we leave our adventurers, having entered the city and headed towards the temple in the centre. Will they find the boy they seek there? What of all the female elves in the city – perhaps our men wish not to leave after all (*wink wink*) ? Will they meet the queen of the dark elves herself?
Find out next episode… maybe…