In the morning, the group finds that Genn has arrived back at some point in the night. Abilard/Tarja remains a woman, and slightly confused. Three is no longer at the house, and is missed; she was contributing more to the upkeep of the house than we’d realized.
Udyr calls people around the table, to discuss our next steps and how to defeat or bargain with Black Eyes Susan. Orad decides to go to the Hunting Guild to see what he can learn about beholders, or ‘eye tyrants’. None of the hunters have ever seen one; the one member who had dreams of bringing one down left with a party of strong men, but never returned.
Udyr sits beside Miriana, and asks her, “Have you — or any of your persona – ever come across a beholder?” She replies, “The Dramoj, they were nasty. I don’t know about beholders.”
“We have made a deal with a demon,” Orad explains to Abilard, “who goes by the name Selsaras. We do this for revenge, to prevent future attacks, and to find answers we are looking for. He’s pledged to help us kill an undead Mojh named the Master. We’ve agreed to his plan.”
Genn searches the Memory for tales of people who have killed beholders. One group got lucky, and got in close with axes. Another used ballista to rain down bolts. A less likely story involves a volcano.
As for her crew, rumor has it that is mostly rhodin, with some chorrim. We know the location of a cabin nearby the town (Spetattor), and Orad makes the suggestion to move there and continue our intelligence gathering efforts.
We decide to get some magic to reduce weight from Senka, and use the boots of teleportation; she offers to loan us a Burdenless Stone for some collateral. Udyr puts 6k down, and we take the stone.
Genn attempts to use the Boots of Teleportation based on the description, but fails — her, Orad, and Kirmual end up in the ocean, near a lighthouse. Thankfully, they can fly, and we move toward the lighthouse and town below it. We eventually see the cabin, and move toward it. As soon as we’re in the cabin and safe, Miriana gives Genn a mean look in a way that only a teenager can, and starts removing the boots from Genn’s feet. She is much more successful at using the magic item, and the rest of the group arrives at the cabin with less dampness.
We start looking at the town, and the jungle around it. There are two ships in the harbor, where work may be being done on them. We can’t see marking on the ships. We spend the night in the cabin, uneventfully.
We go into the town (Ed: I was out with kid duties – can someone update this bit?). They allow us in after some questioning and taking note of our description and weapons. (Alibard also made a ‘friend’ with one of the guards, due to his quality booze and Tarja’s . . . attributes.) People seem friendly enough, and recommend we talk to a chorrim named Toshi at the local inn. There are rhodin in this town, as well as chorrim, and they are freely going about their business and work in the town. Nobody is really afraid; there is some tension, but no outright hostility. We spend some time people watching as we go along, seeing if we can notice anyone who may be a connection; we notice the rhodin all have a brand; a circle with a dot in the center, on the left arm. These rhodin are unusually orderly, clean, and well equipped. We continue to the inn.
The inn is a three story building; ‘The Lost Dragon’. It’s about half full, as we’ve arrived close to lunch. We get a table, and some food. We’re attract some attention, just by virtue of being new people in a small town. The guard who Abilard chatted up comes over, and Abilard attempts to chat him up.
Miriana goes to the bartender, and asks about Toshi. We find out it’s “Commander Toshi”. She has an additional tattoo, we’re told; one on her right shoulder, and it has a red dot as well as the black one. We need to wait for Toshi, so we spend time drinking. After an hour or so, a striking, tall, green woman wearing quality armor walks into the room; obviously Commander Toshi, with a companion who remains standing when Toshi sits. We notice a scar on her wrist, as though her hand may have been severed once, though it is fully functional now. Abilard staggers over, unused to heavy drinking in his new body. She tells us Mayor Green gives work around her, and Captain Susan calls her ship the “Blazing Eye”; it’s in dock now, the other ship is down for repairs. She tells all of this fairly loudly, and Miriana and Kirmaul use this chance to go over to the Chorrim.
Miriana starts out, but lies poorly. Kirmaul steps in: “Me and my friends are looking for work,” she says. “Who told you what Captain Susan is?” Toshi starts to question us and how we know so much. Genn steps in and tells him that we found the location and info of Susan via the Memory, but we don’t know what she’s looking for. He attempts to be assertive, playing the group as simply a mercenary party looking to make a profit where few others would dare. We impress Toshi enough to have her say she’ll contact us; we take rooms in the inn.
In the evening, a woman announced as Anara Green comes in for musical entertainment; Abilard drinks most of the evening. Udyr goes up and introduces herself, and she responds politely – in Verrick, despite being human herself. They share a rare Verrick drink, and he finds out she is the daughter of Mayor Green. He continues to chat her up, and finds out she may have a magic cloak that allows her to leave when she desires. Udyr also finds out where the Green resident is; about half a mile west of the inn, on the coast.
At about three in the morning, there’s a knock on our doors. The rhodin ask us to come downstairs, quietly. They leave as soon as we respond. We head down, and see Toshi’s companion. “Susan would like to give you an audience, and requests that no hostile action be taken against her. In return, she will grant you the same, until we get back to the inn.” We agree, and Genn announces he speaks for the group.
We start walking toward the lighthouse; there are four rhodin guards at the gate, and two others near the door. We enter, and are asked to ascend to the top to meet with Susan and Commander Toshi. We arrive, seeing the beholder (wearing a pirate hat, oddly) staring at the stairwell, instantly taking down any magical effects.
As we stand there in the anti-magic field Miriana almost passes out, and Genn visibly fades and looks paler. Udyr tends to Miriana, and finds out whatever is causing this isn’t physical.
“If you can help me in defeating the defender of this ship, I will freely give you the gem and any treasure find on it, and neither me nor mine will harm you in any way.” We agree to Susan’s terms, and she brings down a hookah to bind us to the oath. “I swear upon the salt of my body and by the salt of my ancestors that I will see this oath through.”
The ship in question that crashed into the base of the lighthouse is a Spelljammer; with the gem we were sent to acquire, it can jump between planes (an incredibly rare ability in the world). Susan wants it because it’s a flying, teleporting ship – ideal for being a pirate. Usually, a Spelljammer ship is powered by an air elemental; when it crashed, it summoned a elder water elemental that is now guarding the ship and can’t return home. That’s what we need to fight and kill.
The group continues to probe the situation with questions to the Beholder:
Waiting with the stillness of the grave as his allies ask their questions, the only sound to come from Abilurd while others are speaking is a surprised cough when he draws too deeply from the hookah for his new body’s lungs.
When Orad questions Captain Susan about the elemental, Abilurd’s glazed gaze flickers. “Is the creature truly alive? Death holds no sway over an element. My people believe that in a the great water, a vast, cool water, is where the dead rest.” A look of confusion comes over his face as he adds, “But I remember it being hot.”
The beholder turns to look at you, and squints as if it has trouble following your questions.
“Alive? All elementals ARE alive in a sense, but not as you’d describe it – they’re bits of the sentient…um….idea?…of whatever they represent. ‘Slaying’ an elemental does nothing more than banish it’s ‘spirit’ – and I use that term loosely – back to the plane of it’s origin. Given how it arrived and that it can’t leave Serran, that may be it’s only way home. An interesting thought, actually. Hmm…”
Uncharacteristically, Abilurd scoffs quietly at the oath if it’s brought up by a party member, but not if he thinks Susie or one her commanders is listening – he’s brave and daft but not insane. He does seem, however, wary of the negative repercussions for breaking it. If he can catch the ear of anybody but Kirmaul, he wonders if it’s worth “borrowing” the extra ship, the one that’s helping to repair the Blazing Eye, to assault the elemental.
Orad takes another hit of the hookah, and blows three smoke rings into the air.
“Captain Susan, where exactly is this ship? Is it underwater or mangled upon the rocks? Is it still operable? Could it be taken to another…” Orad pauses, trying to sound like he understands the next words, “… plane if we got on board?”
The beholder looks back at you, it’s eyes (and, again, the central one is closed here) a little red from all the smoke. “The ship is under the waves, approximately 300 feet down. I’m not sure how usable it still is – from what I’ve seen, there’s some damage to the hull, but the interior still seems to hold at least in part some air or air pockets. I suspect that’s from the air elemental that powers it, but I could be wrong. I suspect that if one got aboard one could make it planeshift (and this is a word many of you won’t be familiar with) away, but the ship itself might not be useable as a ship wherever you went. Also, y’know, you made an Oath that the ship was mine, so……”
“And please,” Orad continues, “Tell us all that you know about our new quarry, the water elemental. How large is it? Can it venture far from the ocean? What is its primary method of attack and defense?”
Susan replies: “The water elemental seems to wrap itself around the ship, and doesn’t venture to far from it. I’m not sure if it even can, honestly – ships can pass over it with relative ease, as can swimmers. Hell, sharks even. Only when one gets about 100 feet down does it react, and it does so swiftly – it weighs some 11 tons and is made of pure, heavy water, but moves like the wind. It’s like fighting the stormiest tide you’ve ever seen, only the tide is made of liquid steel. It can also form into some sort of whirlpool-like structure, but it again seems to be limited in how far it can move away. If I had to guess at the size, I’d say it was some 30 feet square.”
The beholder takes another huge rip while she considers your questions.
“Those are excellent questions,” she exhales, staring back at you with 3 stalks while the rest gaze upward, “and I know the answers to none of them definitively. I imagine both elementals – the one bound to the ship and it’s friend – want to go back to the elemental chaos or somesuch. The water elemental cannot, for some reason, free the air elemental, but has also itself made no move to escape on it’s own. As to where the ship came from or what’s still aboard, your guess is as good as mine. We’re guessing several hundred years, based on the coral growing on and near it, but that’s an educated guess at best.”
Genn nods slightly at all of this, a gesture you’ve come to associate with him committing things to memory. He narrows his eyes, smokes a bit, and sets himself to making plans. “My northern companion makes an excellent point; would it be possible to use the ship repairing the Blazing Eye, or the Eye herself, in our cause? What will you and your crew be able to offer us in terms of aid as we seek to return to you this most valuable of prizes? And you say the ship can fly; none of our number are experienced sailors on water, much less in the air. If we get to the lost ship, would you or one of your number be able to pilot it?”
Orad: “It will take us some time to plan, research, and gather supplies. I assume we will be able to contact you in some fashion as we make ready?”
“Sorry, but a good captain never gives up her ships or men when she doesn’t have to,” Susan replies. "Per our agreement, I’m obligated to contribute nothing save staying out of your way and not vitrifying the lot of you.
“That said…we’ve been boring tunnels into the island beneath this lighthouse in an effort to get under the ‘Jammer and take it that way. This proved relatively futile, as one or both of the Elementals also have friends of Earth. If anything, I will send some of my men down to the tunnels so the Earth Elementals – much smaller and weaker than the Water, mind – aren’t able to help in inevitable battle against you.
“As to getting the ship out of the water and repairing it – well, that’s my job. Remove the Watery obstacle before me, take your prize, and I’ll deal with the rest as I will.”
We take our leave, and search out more details and preparations. Genn probes the Memory, and comes up lucky:
The ship that crashed was called “Vlaakith’s Dagger”, and it crashed into the seas of Serran late in the evening on the 1st day of Seventhmonth, CY 981. It was badly damaged when it crashed, as it’s mission had ended in massive failure – it had blindly shifted some 19 consecutive times in order to escape pursuit, and as a result it’s crystal engine was badly damaged. While it had finally escaped it’s pursuers, it had the bad luck to appear a mere 500 feet over the water while travelling at a downward (well, relative to the plane it had entered) angle at maximum thrust. The Dagger slammed into The Gulf of Firesight less than a second after it appeared, drawing the attention of the small coven of Verrik celebrating the Solstice on the nearby beach. Most of those aboard the ship died on impact – if they weren’t dead already – and many were thrown free of the sinking hull. As the ship sank, the motive Elemental within attempted to break free – it’s bindings had loosened on impact, and it knew the crew to be distracted and scattered. While it did manage to summon a friend shortly after the ship touched bottom, shortly thereafter the remains of the crew managed to rebind it back within the ship despite it’s efforts. The crew were, unfortunately, unable to use the rebound air Elemental to pull free of the ocean floor – an enraged water Elemental held the ship in place and attacked anything moving about near it, and does so still. Even worse, the crystalline engine remained active despite the best of the remaining mechanist’s meager ability. Normally, this wouldn’t be too bad – a minor Planar break, but nothing insurmountable.
…unless, of course, the last plane visited was some sort of hellish nether Shadow realm. With no way to close the rift and no escaping the elemental, the remaining Githyanki aboard quickly fell to The Dark. The Elemental wasn’t long to follow, relatively, though it still clings to a form of quasi-life despite it’s tainted nature. Captain Vlax and her crew remain aboard, undying, and unable to get away despite years of effort.