Episode 15 : Distant Shores
 

At the Maguskôl we inform the head of the school, Yikshak Scroogestien, of our failure in taking the sorceress and the loss of our three companions, including a Mage of the Highest Order. Yikshak Scroogestien looking at Werner Faßenberg says, "It is grave news that you bring. I am disappointed with your failure, I understand that the sorceress was able to plane shift out of this world and into the plane to our east.", he turns and looks at the group. "You will also know by now of our second failure. The force assaulting the dragon was eaten. Then there is our third failure which was our assault upon the treehouse. We suffered great loss and once again this witch too was also able to escape by plane shifting out, just as her sister did. This situation is unacceptable and will be rectified!".

Yikshak Scroogestien continued, "This group is instructed to cross to the plane to our east and find and destroy these two sisters. Find and return two magical artefacts in their possession, namely a Serpent Staff and an Ice Globe. These magical artefacts will be locked up under the Maguskôl. To supplement your group we have two volunteers, one is Yaeger, a fighter, the second is {He who goes unnamed}, an illusionist. In order for you to do this task set for you, you are each to have a ring which enables you to speak and hear in all tongues, as well as giving the ability to cast flowstop twice a day.". The rings are presented. "When you come back these rings are yours to keep. You may also choose a second magical item from our vaults, beneath the Maguskôl, when you return. Sending your group to the next plane does not pose a problem, bringing you back does. We cannot bring you back from the next plane.", handing a scroll to Werner Faßenberg. "Give this scroll to Aristotle an Astrologer in the city of Rombyosus in the next plane. He will send you back here.".

Yikshak Scroogestien continued, "Our information on what you can expect in the next plane is sketchy. In our archives we have a scroll telling the tale of one who went there and returned half mad. He tells of a plane with a hot and tropical climate. It seems to be mostly sea with a couple of large lush and fertile islands and many similar smaller island chains, many of these have active volcanoes. The people there are human and are divided into kingdoms. They are sea farers but have many vineyards and olive orchards. What olives are we do not know, but this scroll talks of them at length. There is piracy, the chronicler was caught by pirates and enslaved for six months before escaping. There are two major cities and they seem to have only just discovered steel. Also there are two other races on this plane. Firstly there is a giant humanoid race some twelve feet tall with the head of a bull. The humans call them "The Menace.", and they are perpetually fighting against them. The second race are what we believe to be aquatic Elves, of these we only know of their presence. This is the extent of our information. Rest tonight, we will plane shift you in the morrow. Are there any questions? No, then go rest.".

The night passed and in the morrow we were led down into the labyrinth below the Maguskôl to a room who's floor was inlaid with an elaborate pentagram pattern. We stepped into the pattern and were in the cavern that Stefan had seen once before. The sounds of gulls echo through the cavern, and the tang of salt fills the air. Two sets of drag marks lead from the cavern to the exit tunnel and from here to the new world waiting outside. Taking the tunnel exit we find ourselves standing on a trail on the side of a cliff face. We are overlooking the sea and in the distance there are three small islands. The sun is beaming directly at us and sinking down toward the horizon. The narrow trail leads both left, down to a beach, and right, up the lip of the cliff face. The drag marks lead to the left, we take the left trail. As we descend the path is bisected by a crevice leading deeper into the volcano behind us. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt and Stefan step into the shrubbery that marks the entrance to the crevice. The drag marks also lead this way.

As the beach is only a little way on, the rest of us investigate the markings on the beach. We discover tracks indicating the landing of a boat and the presence of a single set of petite human footprints and four sets of very large human footprints. We all return to the crevice. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt and Stefan show us their discovery of an altar to Furaam upon which rest the split remains of the heads of our fallen comrades. We give them a proper burial as the sun sets. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt indicates that he will investigate up the crevice further and report soon. It is a very dark night, there is a new moon present in the sky. After twenty minutes Stefan also goes up the crevice to investigate. He walks a short way up and comes across a concealed arrow trap, this he easily avoids. Beyond he can make out a cave entrance at the top of the crevice, and to the left an altar.

Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt has concealed himself in the bushes a little way off from the cave entrance and has been silently watching the goings on here. Just moments before two minotaurs came from the cave and swapped guard duty with two who were standing at the altar. These minotaurs stood either side of the altar, then one vanished. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt listens and soon hears the sound of distant snoring from the cave.

Stefan cast intuition and dashes forward. In the intuition Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt tries to grab him from his concealed spot in the thick of bushes but fails, he whispers, "You idiot! What are you doing?". Stefan quickly encounters the two minotaurs, one with battleaxe, the other with a trident. They go berserk and swing at him, he dodges and quickly brings the spell to an end. Next he repeats the spell and casually walks up to the minotaurs. "Hello, hello.", the visible minotaur responds, "Who are you?". "I'm Stefan, I'm lost, I was shipwrecked and ...", he is cut short as the minotaur says, "You lie!", and brings his battleaxe up. Stefan ends the spell just as he is cut short ...

A third time Stefan cast intuition, this time as he walks up the crevice he notices the visible minotaur raise its head and sniff at the air before he steps forward and makes himself visible to the creature. "I have been sent with a message for one of the witches but I have been teleported some distance off target.". The minotaur speaks, "You are too late, she is gone.". "Damn.", says Stefan, "Can I wait for her return.". "She won't be coming back here.". "Damn.", says Stefan, "I really have to deliver this message to her. Did she go to one of the human cities?". "Yes, she summoned a boat.". "To take her to Rombyosus?", the minotaur nods his head. "You have a minute to leave before you become supper.". Stefan nods, turns to leave and then dashes forward into the cave. The minotaur with the battleaxe is surprised but quickly follows him. Inside the cave Stefan sees, two minotaurs sleeping, bedding for another six and piles of sacks and barrels. Pain licks through his body and he ends the spell with the vision of the minotaur advancing upon him, licking its lips. Yaeger and Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt rejoin our group and we plan our attack.

Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt and Wilhelm Schults sneak forward to the position that Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt had previously on the righthand side of the crevice. Werner Faßenberg and {He who goes unnamed} fly up the cliff face along the crevice and descend and land upon the cliff face on the left handside above the altar. From their position they can see the cave mouth and also that behind the altar there is a slight drop to a ledge that skirts a pool of lava and leads down to a seemingly barricaded entrance to another cave. Yaeger flies along into a position on the ground on the left hand side of the crevice. The minotaur with the battleaxe lifts his head and sniffs at the air. Werner Faßenberg cast sudden light, a flash of light surrounds the altar enveloping both minotaurs, and also makes the second minotaur visible. Both minotaurs seem blinded and stunned, blinking profusely.

This is the queue for action from the rest of our group, crossbow bolts with the spell silence on their tips fly at the minotaurs. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt hits with a bolt covered with the black toxin, Yaeger slings at a minotaur and causes a bleeder to the leg. Heinz Meier, Wilhelm Schults, and Stefan all miss their targets. {He who goes unnamed} cast illusion and a waist high maze appears about the minotaurs, as well as a foul stink. Werner Faßenberg tries to cast a second spell from a scroll, but it goes wild, stunning him momentarily. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt shoots again, the bolt passes straight into the ear of the minotaur and it drops dead. {He who goes unnamed} strikes the second minotaur with a sling slug.

Heinz Meier, now berserk, chargers forward at the still standing minotaur. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt fires another crossbow bolt it passes directly by Heinz Meier's ear and pierces deeply into minotaur flesh. Heinz Meier pounds at the minotaur with his morning star, shattering its shoulder. {He who goes unnamed} follows up with another sling slug which rips deeply into its abdomen. The creature collapses to the ground and dies. Heinz Meier eyes Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt but comes out of his rage.

Yaeger and Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt advance into the cave. Both creep up on a sleeping minotaur in its bed. Yaeger's minotaur's snoring is cut short as it opens its eyes and moves to swing itself off the bed. Yaeger delivers a sword strike cutting into the beast. It responses with a failed strike that glances off Yaeger's armour. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt strikes his minotaur but not very deeply, it wakes. Heinz Meier comes charging through the cave mouth into the cave, crying for minotaur blood.

Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt in a one two combination of strikes with his longsword and then his shortsword, delivers two deep blows to the minotaur, stunning the beast. Heinz Meier brings his morning star down on the shoulder of this creature. The shoulder shatters and the minotaur drops. Yaeger likewise delivers a blow to his minotaur and it drops. Heinz Meier and Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt glare at each other, each in a berserk rage. They grin at each other as the red mist swirls from their eyes and they calm to once again regain their normal temperament.

We can now investigate the confines of the cave. There are eight cots of minotaur size, some barrels, sacks, a large pile of animal skins, eight crates, a fireplace and pot, and a pile of rocks in one corner. The skins seem to be from some animal we have not met yet. The crates contain tusks, we suspect they were once intimately associated with the skins. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt pulls out a small hammer and chips at the rocks from the rock pile. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt says, "This is gold ore. We could make a small fortune by breaking this down.". He chips at the rocks some more and produces a flake of gold dust. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt says, "This must be from the mine just around the corner, shall we investigate?".

We do investigate. Standing before the mine entrance we find three wheelbarrows which are massive by human standard. The miners must be the minotaurs alone. Stefan cast intuition and heads off down the mine shaft. There is one main mine shaft and a series of small tunnels leading off. Stefan decides to investigate one such siding to the left. This leads on but looks like this portion of the mine is in disuse. Stefan thinks he heard a noise behind him. Turning Stefan is confronted by a huge snake that with one bite swallows his lower body. The snake then proceeds to swallow more and more, Stefan ends the spell. "Be warned guys, there is one hell of a snake down on the left passage.". Again Stefan cast intuition and he investigates the passages to the right, here he finds an indication that there is active mining going on here but there are no miners. He returns to the group.

We return to the cave to decide upon a course of action. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt talks with Werner Faßenberg and explains some of the process of extraction of gold from its ore. Werner Faßenberg then begins the process of separation of the gold from the gold ore via the casting of a series of cracks call. The slow process of powderization of all the gold ore begins, dust fills the cave. By dawn a bag of gold dust weighing some 200 gold pieces is produced. {He who goes unnamed} examines the bodies of the minotaurs and finds that each minotaur has a set of gold braces, these devices enabled them to become invisible. {He who goes unnamed} is able to attune himself to one of the sets of gold braces.

Meanwhile Stefan cast dream and sleeps on the events taking place. He sees the sea, one of the witches is in a row boat being pulled by four minotaurs, it passes by another boat being rowed in the opposite direction, again this boat has four minotaurs and the second witch, they pass each other. The second boat enters a harbour, the human inhabitants run in panic, the witch holds up a crystal sphere and chaos rains down on the city in the form of ice bolts. The witch cast leaving and appears amongst the streets. Stefan knows that she seeks a certain Astrologer, one going by the name Aristotle. A man who is marked for death. The minotaur boat turns back out to sea. Stefan rises up and sees the town diminish below him, he hovers above an island. At each end of the island is a volcano and at the lip of each volcano is a city. Descending Stefan is again at the city, the witch uses leaving to get to her boat. She is rowed out and again leaves chaos in her wake. For three days the minotaurs row, before they again pass the first witch heading in the opposite direction, soon they sight land, a beach with a volcano next to it, and a path winding around the side. The dream ends and the rays of dawn rise from the eastern sea.

Three days separate us from the returning witch and her minotaurs. We also know that we are on the wrong island. The city of Rombyosus lies on an island further to our east. We need transport. {He who goes unnamed} flies into the air higher and higher until he reaches the point where he can see much of our island. We are on a dual volcano island. We are at the northern tip of one of the volcanoes. To the west is the ocean and at the edge of his sight {He who goes unnamed} can see a sail but nothing more. To the east across the other side of the island {He who goes unnamed} sees a small town huddled in a cove. We elect to send our mages of the highest order to fly over the island and bring back a boat and rescue party. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt will be the mage's escort.

The three fly across the island and land in the town, only to find that the town has long since been abandoned. Racks of boats line the shore, many destroyed or weathered beyond all seaworthiness. One alone is found to be seaworthy or at least to float with minimal bailing required. On this boat we cast levitate and flying we haul it around the island and back to our compatriots. During that day Stefan dreamt some more of his dreams. He saw himself standing at the prowl of this boat, a pattern of stars before him, and rising on the horizon an island. A city comes into view and our little boat slips into the city of Rombyosus. Stefan awakes, "I know the path, we just have to follow the stars!".

 

 
(c) 1999 Hammerstein Rolemaster Campaign Journal by Ross Stopford  
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