Chapter 15: Advance? Hold? Retreat?

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Session Number: 86
Date: Sunday 13 February 2011
Venue: Fergus'
PCs & Players:

Arrian Rog1/Clr8 (Fergus) (kills: none)
Feren Rog9 (Yeran) (kills: none)
Rowaine Pal9 (Craig) (kills: none)
Tomen Rgr9 (Ash) (kills: none)
Troll Wiz9 (Densial) (kills: none)

XP Awarded: TBC

It is evening and everyone is gathered at the Roasted Goat. Tomen will prepare a Charm Animal and a Speak with Animals spell the following morning. Arrian will prepare his usual array of 1st level spells, as the Endure Elements spells he prepared this morning proved unnecessary. Rowaine wonders about bringing along a sack of fish, a decent meal for two sea tigers by Tomen's reckoning. If it doesn't make the sea tigers happy, it should at least keep them busy for a while. Rowaine asks the inn's proprietor where he sources his fish and is told of the fish market opposite Dock 4. It opens at four o'clock in the morning. Tomen also plans to speak with Lord Fallowhay in the morning to see if he has any advice on how to handle sea tigers.

The party discuss how better to communicate underwater (or anywhere where verbal communication is impossible or unwise). They arrange a number of hand signals:

  • Advance / Hold / Retreat
  • Discern (use special ability, usually followed by a target or direction; e.g. Troll detect magic, Rowaine detect evil, Arrian heal, Tomen track, Feren look for traps)
  • Positive / Negative
  • Look
  • To ME!

Should anyone need to attract attention, they are to bang two pieces of metal together.

Rowaine retires, mindful of tomorrow's early start. Arrian will wake her before the fish market is open for trade.

In the morning, Rowaine and Arrian depart well before sunrise and buy 700 pounds of fish. Arrian fetches Troll, who transports the sacks of fish across Aquilla to the bow with one of his Floating Discs. Arrian and Rowaine stay with him, waiting for the others.

Tomen visits Fallowhay and learns that sea tigers are normally reasonably docile but are dangerous at this time of year, especially when encountered in packs. Gershwin says that where there are two there are likely more; his advice is to steer well clear.

The others gather at Aquilla's bow and and discuss their situation. Arrian believes the risk of venturing into the sea tigers' domain outweighs the potential gain. Even if they find a magically-powered boat, how many more must they find before the authorities might consider letting them keep one? The plan seems horribly labourious, time-consuming, and with an uncertain outcome. Arrian wonders whether the better course might be to simply hand over the party's research to the harbourmaster and move on. But move on to what? Rowaine mentions their responsibilities to the families of those reported missing. Should Rowaine stay on and continue helping however she can, while the others return to their homeland? The guard have made it very clear that they do not want help. Conversation turns to the neogi. Arrian wonders whether the wheels of Aquillan bureaucracy might turn a little quicker if Fallowhay were to say a word or two on their behalf to the city's upper echelons. He and Rowaine depart on two brief errands: to visit Arrian's fellow priests, then Lord Fallowhay himself. Troll minds the fish.

Someone go get me a coffee!

Corellon Larethian's priesthood has very little to do with the Fallowhays. Lord Gershwin is known to be a powerful political force in the city, but is not known as a religious man.

Arrian returns to the bow while Rowaine requests a meeting with Lord Fallowhay. She asks whether the aquatic elf noble might be able to help convince someone in Aquilla's hierarchy to let her small group help the guard. Fallowhay has heard about the guard's raid on the neogi marketplace, informing Rowaine that the neogi were caught with certain illegal items and that in the ensuing confrontation, several neogi and guardsmen were killed. The guard found no evidence that the neogi were engaged in any slave trade. Rowaine's shoulders drop as she takes in the news. She excuses herself and joins the others.

It appears the party's hard-won leads are drying up. Following up on the boat's location is a risky proposition and not without ethical problems. The neogi market has resulted in a dead end that has left a sour taste in Rowaine's mouth. What to do? Following up on Taryn might reveal something. The fish are beginning to reek…

Rowaine's bottom lip sets. She points out that in the two weeks they have been on board, they have found one boat and might be on the verge of finding another. With maybe dozens of boats unaccounted for, perhaps the task is not as onerous as they imagine. She convinces the others to continue with their underwater excursion. Those that need them quaff Potions of Water Breathing, Troll conjures two Greater Discs, and they set off.

The group swim to the ruined tower. Rowaine opens the trapdoor, but her sunrod does not provide enough illumination for her to make anything out. She Detects no evil and swims through. The others follow her, Arrian staying behind and watching their progress. Rowaine looks down and sees the others magically appear one by one. Troll positively detects magic on the walls and floor, but nothing above.

Over the next half hour, the party wrestle with the mystery of the trapdoor, trying to figure out what is going on. After each experiment, they share their findings as best they can with their limited vocabulary:

  • Arrian swims below the trapdoor, the others stay above. Looking up through the trapdoor, Arrian can see the others but they cannot see him. Arrian closes the trapdoor. The view from above does not change.
  • Arrian swims below the trapdoor, the others stay above. Arrian closes the trapdoor. Rowaine swims down when she thinks the trapdoor is closed. The others see her start downwards, then she disappears. Rowaine finds herself in the ocean alone, with Aquilla nowhere to be seen. She faintly makes out what might be the surface, far above. Rowaine swims up and relievedly reappears with the others.
  • Arrian swims below the trapdoor, the others stay above. Arrian closes the trapdoor. Rowaine ties a lit sunrod to a rope end, then lowers it down. The sunrod and the end of the rope disappear. Rowaine waits a few seconds then hauls the rope back up. The sunrod pops back into view, still glowing. Arrian opens the trapdoor and returns.
  • Arrian swims below the trapdoor, the others stay above. Arrian keeps the trapdoor open. Rowaine lowers the sunrod, watching it disappear. Arrian sees her lower the sunrod through the trapdoor and grasps it. Rowaine feels the tug and pulls Arrian up through the hole.
  • Arrian swims below the trapdoor, the others stay above. Arrian closes the trapdoor. Tomen lowers the sunrod through the large hole and watches it disappear. Arrian tries to open the trapdoor but it is stuck fast. Tomen pulls the sunrod back up, after which Arrian opens the trapdoor as easily as before. He swims back up.
  • Tomen unties the sunrod, handing it back to Rowaine. He take the rope and swims down, tying the end to the trapdoor latch. He swims back up and tugs the rope which draws tight. Rowaine sees Tomen, figures out what he is doing and panics. Tomen slackens his grip on the rope and swims down, exiting through the trapdoor. The door apparently jammed on the rope and did not fully close.

Phew! That might have been our only way back!

Arrian suggests a further, possibly very risky experiment. He gestures that Rowaine descend and close the trapdoor, indicating that he would then swim down. Afterwards, Rowaine would then open the trapdoor. Where does this leave Arrian? Dead, stranded, or worse?

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