DM - Josh
Arbach - Half Elf Ranger - Aaron
Farrow - Human Paladin - Nate
Tak Ahnsiik - Tiefling Cleric - Brett
Peter - Tiefling Rogue - Jared
Brand - Half Elf Monk - Matt
Kizmet - Dark Elf Warlock - Devin
Arbach had left to try and find mounts. Peter and Farrow were on deck keeping watch. Peter was positioned on the high side of the deck, about thirty feet above the desert floor. Farrow was on the lower section of deck, at ground level. As Peter looked out into the storm he saw shapes approaching through the dust.
Tak Ahnsiik had been roaming the desert through the hachi for the last few hours, after fleeing the tentacle monster. He’d found a half-elf, another of the hirelings like himself, as well as Kizmet the Dark Elf. The three of them were headed in the direction that they thought the Onyx was in. A gust of wind cleared the sand and Tak saw movement on the deck of the wreckage. The shapes dropped from sight so that he couldn’t tell who held the ship.
When Peter saw the shapes in the dust he faded into cover. Farrow also drew back out of sight. As he scanned the horizon behind him he saw Arbach returning with a string of greks. Something had gone right at least.
Brand, the half-elf, was travelling with the Drow and the Tiefling. He was none too pleased with being forced to keep such company, but needs must. As they approached the ship he saw a bunch of shapes moving towards the gap between his group and the ship’s wreckage.
Peter saw a mob of goblins, mounted on greks, some riding out of the hachi. He yelled down to Arbach and Farrow, then moved into cover at the rail. Farrow moved to the edge of the ship, in position to guard Peter and Arbach. Arbach drove one of his tomahawks into the sand and tied off the grek string, then rode up to the ship and dismounted.
First blood was drawn by the party in the wastes. While Tak took position ahead of his two companions and Brand readied himself, Kizmet raised her staff and blasted one of the goblins into pieces. The grek kept riding forward with nothing but a pair of empty boots in the stirrups.
Both parties engaged the goblins in a general melee. Brand used his staff and hands to good effect, killing two. Kizmet continued to cast spells, but was wounded in return, having drawn attention to herself. Tak killed a couple of goblins then got into a wrestling match with one.
Arbach managed to miss spectacularly with his first three arrows. Peter and Farrow made up for it by killing those close to the ship. Arbach found himself on the ground with two goblins near him. He killed one from his back then got up and finished off the last. Farrow was struck by two magical bolts, fired by a goblin shaman. He rushed the creature but was unable to harm it. As he prepared to strike again one of Arbach’s arrows flew past his head and buried itself in the shaman’s neck.
Farrow saw a wounded goblin fleeing on foot. He set off in pursuit but one of Peter’s arrows killed it before it could catch up. The last two survivors were on the desert flank. Tak was still rolling around wrestling with his goblin. The last was running for the cover of the storm when Kizmet’s bolt took it between the shoulders. Tak stood up. He had tried to capture his goblin alive but ended up killing it. He looked down and realized he was holding a handful of goblin balls.
Arbach and Peter recovered their arrows. Brand captured two of the goblin greks. Kizmet and Farrow searched the bodies, finding some coins on the goblin leader but nothing else of value. Peter began to carve a symbol into the foreheads of the dead goblins. Arbach recognized it as the symbol of Grom, an elemental god. As Peter moved on from each body, Tak collected it and piled it on his shield. Brand looked at the two in disgust.
When Tak pulled his shield out from under the stack of bodies it had broken into several pieces. After a moment of shock and panic, he pushed the pieces together and the shield healed itself in a flash of green light, though it was still covered with cracks.
Anselm came out on deck holding his shortsword. He claimed three of the kills for himself, though no one had seen him during the fight. Arbach, Peter and Farrow shared a look of disgust, then Arbach prodded Farrow forward in his new role as handler for the lordling.
Anselm was all for heading towards the Bright right then and there. Farrow convinced him that they should wait until morning after Arbach assured them that they would not make it before dark. The party bedded down for the night with everyone but Farrow taking a turn at watch, due to his lack of darkvision.
The party left for the Bright In the morning, loaded with supplies from the Onyx and riding the greks.
After two uneventful hours they arrived at the wreckage of the Bright. Mulgo and his crew were still there. Mulgo greeted Anselm with overblown joy. Mulgo was clearly not happy with Arbach leaving him behind but decided not to air that in front of the lord. As they were talking Mulgo asked Anselm; “My lord, where’s the first mate, did he make it?” “He’s dead Mulgo. Why do you ask?” “He owed me money my lord.” Mulgo answered evasively.
Anselm ordered the surviving crew and guards to repair the ship while he led the rest of the part to the vault. They looked around helplessly then started to rig shelter from the ship. Mulgo and his crew mounted up on the two extra greks, riding double.
The party rode south for the remainder of the day. Their journey took them towards a line of hills on the horizon. They arrived at the foot of the hills at dusk and made camp. Arbach and Peter moved into the hills to scout the next day’s trail. They travelled under the Hunter Moon while it pursued the two Sister Moons across the night sky.
The trail through the hills was easy to follow with no signs of life. As they crested the highest hill they could see that they were descending into a bowl. The trail wound down into the floor of the bowl. As the two reached the bottom they heard a horrible wailing sound. Off to the right were three pillars of flesh. They were covered with faces, wailing out in pain and despair. Peter found himself fascinated by the faces. He was shocked when Arbach slapped him and he realized that he had been ensorcelled by the voices and was riding towards the spires.
The two moved on from the Howling Mounds and continued towards the center of the bowl. Ahead they saw two sliver fifty foot tall towers rising towards the stars. Between and behind the towers was an area of collapsed cliff face that looked as if the road had originally entered something there. Peter saw writing on one of the towers and was able to read part of it. It said “Here the heroes of the past lie in rest.”
The night was over half way over so the two scouts returned to the camp, travelling faster now. They arrived after day break and briefed Anselm and the party on what they had seen. Anselm required some explanation of the Howling Mounds. Kizmet had heard of them. There were a village that was caught in the Shattering and all of the villagers were fused into the three mounds, eternally sounding out in agony and whaling “Gadaran! Please forgive us”. Kizmet suggested that they fashion ear plugs to put in when they got to the towers, which everyone agreed was a good plan.
The party started out and made good progress through the hills. When they were close to the pillars they stopped to put in their ear plugs but Anselm did not get his in and rode off towards the pillars. Farrow also rode towards them and passed Anselm racing in the other direction with a look of terror on his face. Once they had gotten Anselm calmed down and everyone had their ear plugs in the party rode on and arrived at the two crystal towers. The party stopped at a distance from the towers and examined them from afar.
Kizmet was able to read more of the writing. “Do not pass. May they never be transgressed.” While she was translating the party noticed that each perfectly round tower had double doors at its base. On the left hand tower one of the doors was ajar. They were both shut on the right hand tower. Arbach noticed movement at the top of the left hand tower.
The group convinced Anselm that he wanted them to explore the left tower. They approached it carefully and Peter examined the door. He found a trap, rocks above the door rigged to fall on anyone walking through. He disarmed the trap and Arbach jumped through the door with his bow at the ready.
As Arbach tried to get his eyes to adjust he was struck by two crossbow bolts, wounding him lightly. Kizmet had jumped through behind him and she fired a bolt from her staff up the center of the tower. She did not strike anyone, but a tumble of rocks fell from above. Arbach grabbed Kizmet and pulled her out of the tower to safety.
Tak walked up to Arbach and pulled the arrows out, healing him at the same time. The party rushed the doors again with Peter moving up the stairs followed by Farrow and Brand. Arbach saw two shapes above him and fired, missing. Kizmet also failed to hit a target. As the others rushed up the stairs, Arbach fired again, hitting one of the attackers and dropping him down the shaft. The second one was also killed, leaving the tower in silence.
Looking down Arbach saw that the body was dressed in a bird costume.