Chapter 16: Yokes and Boats

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Session Number: 87
Date: Sunday 20 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

Tomen scouts above. He doesn't have to ascend very far before he can make out two large shapes circling above. He does not press his luck and returns.

Rowaine asks the others for suggestions on what to do about the trapdoor. The consensus is to do nothing and they head to a side beneath a large shelf, sixty feet long and forty feet deep. It is not supported from below. Rowaine confirms with Tomen that the creatures above are not paying the group any attention. Tomen then leads the group up around the shelf's edge. There is another shelf directly opposite.

The shelf is littered with decaying wooden debris. Those with elven eyes can see blurry shapes circling above. Arrian attracts Troll's attention by banging metal on metal, asking him to Detect Magic. Troll indicates that the structure radiates magic, but nothing else. The creatures change their pattern, diving down towards the group. Rowaine gestures for Tomen to charm one of them, then speak with it. Feren draws his rapier as Rowaine bestows Eagle's Splendour to Tomen. Arrian casts Recitation. The creatures make rumbling noises and circle closer. Tomen keeps a cool head, but keeps his hands near his sheathed weapons. Rowaine casts Bless. Tomen casts Charm Animal when the most aggressive animal enters range, then immediately casts Speak with Animals.

"Go away we kill you go away now we kill you go away now we kill you!"

"We offer gifts for you, and anyone else around," Tomen says. One of the sea tigers changes direction. "What gifts?" it says, as the other continues its threatening rumbling.

"We mean you no harm."

"I eat you I eat you I kill you…" / "Mmmmm… nice. What gifts?"

"We bring a lot of fish for all of you."

"Go away we kill you this our house go away now…"

The other creature sidles up to Tomen. "Mmmmmm… Where fish? Those people, tell them to go away. Go away!"

Ting ting ting… Arrian attracts Troll's attention again. He asks him to move the fish close. "RAAAAaaaaarr!" bellows the sea tiger before Tomen. "Go away what are you doing here? Aaarrgh, tell them to go tell them to leave we will attack tell them to go tell them to leave we will kill them we will KILL THEM!" Both creatures begin circling tighter and tighter.

"Is there no way we can convince you?" Tomen says.

"Tell them to leave we attack! That one kill him that one that one kill him!"

"We will descend now," Tomen says. "Goodbye." He gestures for the others to go down. The creatures divebomb Arrian, like magpies. He flinches. Tomen senses that all the creatures' aggression is directed at Arrian but is unsure why. He swims in between, hoping to distract them. Rowaine bangs her sunrod against her axe head "RrrraaAAAAAAR! snarl the sea tigers. Tomen understands. It is the metallic ringing. He puts himself in the sea tigers' position. Someone enters their home and bangs metal? How aggressive!

Rowaine also makes the connection. She slowly tucks her sunrod into her belt and puts hands down by her sides. She eyes Arrian and gestures for them both to retreat.

With the threatening two backing away and Tomen vying for their attention, the sea tigers cease divebombing. Rowaine and Arrian swim through the trapdoor and watch from the other side. The others descend. Troll moves his fish-laden Disc straight up.

"We mean you no harm," Tomen says as the creatures' circling becomes less threatening. "Why do you charge us?"

"Those ones fight! We kill, we eat them!"

"They are gone now. They are no threat to you."

"We know. Fish!" They both head up after the Disc.

Tomen looks down to the forty foot square opening. He gestures a message twice, hoping Rowaine can see and understand it.

Rowaine's face shows confusion. "You here danger, you no here no danger, we go up?" Was that it? You know, for a guy steeped in grace, he can be remarkably awkward…"

The others proceed up towards the feasting sea tigers. Troll keeps his second Disc in front - the Disc that bears Feren.

Can we say "human shield"? Yes we can!

The group pass another level of shelves littered with more decaying timber. Above that, shelves on all four sides leave a forty foot wide square hole with a seeming air-filled area above. The sea tigers romp about in the area above the party, eating fish. All swim up calmly and quietly, taking care to avoid both the fish and the sea tigers. They break surface in the centre of the square and breathe air. It is dark. Tomen activates a sunrod. He sees shadowy wooden shapes, vaguely boat-shaped, sitting on the wooden platform in the periphery of his light.

At Feren's prompting, Troll Detects that the water's surface and the edge of the platform are magical, of a similar type to other such areas he has encountered. There is an unbroken wooden ceiling above.

The group swim to the platform and climb out of the water. They divide and circumnavigate the square area in separate directions, finding a number of boats and carts.


The party split up and search. The carts contain rotten wood and rusted heads of ancient hand tools. The boats are all made of ironwood and are in various states of disrepair, including one that is listing on its side, wrecked. Others are held in place by rotting timber struts. The building, in stark comparison, is pristine, as was the previous arcane boat.


Tomen finds three undecayed ironwood yokes in one of the carts, each about eighteen inches long. They are surprisingly heavy for their size, even given the material. Tomen asks whether the yokes radiate magic. They do, rather strongly. Tomen looks for exits but cannot find any.

Feren finds a metal panel on one of the walls with a vertical slit, out of which a wooden T-bar is attached. There are five identical detents spaced equally alongside the length of the slot. The handle sits in line with the uppermost detent. Some kind of sliding switch? With no indication as to its function, Feren is hesitant to use it, especially with Arrian and Rowaine below. Feren asks Tomen to fetch them, something Tomen is reluctant to do because of the risk. He agrees to go down and explain the situation to them, leaving the choice of whether to re-enter up to them. Tomen says that if he is not back within an hour, then he cannot get back and that they would have to find their own way out.

Tomen swims down, sunrod in hand but being careful not to bump it into anything. The sea tigers seem uninterested, lazilly gulping down mouthfuls of fish. Rowaine and Arrian see Tomen approach and then exit through the trapdoor. He motions for Rowaine and Arrian to follow him to Aquilla's edge so they can talk. They follow him.

In a secluded spot on Aquilla's bow, Tomen describes his group's findings to Rowaine and Arrian. Arrian wonders whether the yokes might be for the sea tigers, but even the least agricultural-minded person realises that the yokes are far too small to contain such beasts. Rowaine asks whether the sea tigers might remember them banging metal items. Tomen thinks it unlikely, adding that if she is thinking of returning, to do so quickly while the fish supply holds. Rowaine asks Tomen to lead them back.

In the submerged tower, the sea tigers brush past Tomen and swim past Rowaine and Arrian, but do not display any of their previous aggression. The three make it to the top.

Rowaine asks the others what they've found. She asks whether any of the boats radiate magic. They have not been checked and Troll has exhausted his prepared Detect Magic spells. Arrian steps in; none of the boats appear to be magical, but the panel is.

Rowaine scrutinises the entire level with Detect Evil while Arrian looks inside the boats. He looks for anything resembling the description of the first boat but sees no similarity. He then inspects the yokes, trying to interface them with the boats, but there is no obvious connection.

"Nothing," Rowaine says, finishing her sweep. "Has someone checked the ceiling?" Feren and Arrian climb aboard a Disc and Troll levitates it upwards. Rowaine turns to the boats, looking at each in turn.

Feren and Arrian complete their search of the ceiling, revealling nothing. They return to the wooden platform. "How do they get them into the water?" Arrian asks Rowaine.

"Something to do with the yokes?" she answers. "If not, then either the water comes up or the platform goes down. Perhaps that's what that switch does," she says, pointing to the device on the wall. Rowaine walks over and inspects where the wall meets the floor. It seems a solid, interlocked fit that is not designed to move. She turns back to the boats. "No magic on the boats?" she asks Arrian.

"None that I can see."

"Then I think that these are not the boats we're looking for. But that radiates magic," she says pointing to the switch, "and so do these?" indicating the yokes. Both Troll and Arrian nod. "Strong magic on the yokes," Troll adds.

"They were so heavy," Tomen says, "I did not feel comfortable carrying them in the water."

"Curious," Rowaine says, putting the yokes in her magical haversack. "So what do we think about this switch?"

After a conversation, the group secure a fifty foot length of rope to the platform and leave the end dangling in the water. Feren stands ready to manipulate the switch while the others wait in the water.

Feren pulls slide down a notch. Nothing happens. He repeats for the three remaining positions with the same result. He returns the switch to the uppermost position.

"So we are back to the yokes?" Rowaine asks. Arrian crosses to a pile of ironwood detritus on the platform. He grabs one of the larger pieces and drops into water. It floats.

Feren extends an arm to Rowaine; she removes a yoke from the haversack and hands it to him. Feren crosses to the water's edge and drops it in. It sinks below the surface, then swings itself into horizontal alignment and floats, suspended.

Rowaine removes a second yoke and gently pushes it vertically beneath the water's surface. It descends a couple of feet then rights itself. Arrian enters the water and holds a yoke with both hands, imagining himself being pulled. It pulls him around a little and the water directly ahead briefly shimmers.

These are the boats!

Arrian experiments with the yoke but cannot definitively make it work. Rowaine puts a yoke under a boat's prow, grasps it with two hands and tries to lift the boat. No go. She beckons three others to help her: two in front, two at the rear. The boat will not budge. Arrian holds a yoke out in front of him. It does not exhibit any self-levelling property when in air, but Arrian notes that it seems just the right size for a humanoid to hold.

Tomen takes Rowaine's yoke and slips into the water. He pushes his right hand out while pulling his left in; his whole body seems to relocate in line with his movement. It does not respond to mental urgings.

"Troll," Rowaine says, "help us out here?"

"Try pushing it away from you."

Tomen shoots forwards towards the wall. He pulls back and slows down. Feren jumps in and plays with one. A faint, shaped wall of force parts the water around the moving yoke, making movement effortless. Feren cannot help but whoop for joy as he scoots around. Tomen hears the sound and yells back. They can hear and understand each other. Tomen surfaces and reverts to his normal form, takes a breath and ducks beneath the surface. He takes a hesitant, experimental breath - his lungs fill with salty air, not water. He yells out to Feren.

"Boys," thinks Rowaine. Her mind turns to another certain boy, yet trapped in a black cylinder. "Troll," she says, "would this sort of magic be of use to K'at?"

"It might be," Troll replies.

Tomen and Feren's play has a purpose. They find that the yokes can only be controlled by one person, and they only bestow their water-breathing property to that person. Another can be towed behind, but they must have another means of breathing and the ride is nowhere near as smooth.

Rowaine looks around, asking Tomen whether the sea tigers make their home up here. Tomen reluctantly leaves the water. Feren finds himself alone in an enclosed pool with two multi-tonne carnivores, and decides to exit also. Tomen finds no evidence that the sea tigers live here. Rowaine finds this a little strange.

The party pair up, Tomen takes aquatic form and they slowly descend towards the trapdoor. The sea tigers are no longer there. Nothing has obviously changed below. Everyone passes through the wide portal at the bottom and exits via the open trapdoor. Arrian closes it and they all head back to Aquilla's edge. Rowaine stows the yokes in her backpack and they make their way back to their lodgings, dripping wet.

Arrian inquires as to whether their business abord Aquilla is now finished. Rowaine expresses an unpaid debt to those with missing loved ones. Arrian wonders whether they might leave the matter to the local guard, considering their unwillingness to accept assistance. Rowaine ponders this.

The party make hasty farewells. Rowaine thanks Crane, saying she will be back and asking him to keep an ear out on local news, especially anything involving missing people. She then takes Tomen to see Lord Fallowhay. Rowaine asks after progress with the crippled boat. Fallowhay confirms that it is indeed one of the original boats whose power source suffered some sort of disruption. It still retains its protective magic, magic unique to the original Aquilla and the other six vessels. The same magic that appears to be imbued in the yokes.

Trina's branch responds to Feren's will and the party transport back to the grove of the One Tree. There, Abbey's wing is progressing. It will still be many months before it is complete. Troll stays in the grove but sends Shalélu on with the others to the queen's southern residence.

K'at is still a guest of the queen. After appearing before her royal highness, Rowaine seeks out the old sage and shows him one of the yokes.

"That'll do nicely," the aged elf says.

"What - just one?" Rowaine replies, her hand inches from the mouth of her haversack.

"One will be fine, I should think. Why - how many do you have?"

Rowaine is suddenly tightlipped.

K'at will commence the process the following day. He is hopeful it will open the container and free Krag. It will take some time: two, three, maybe four weeks or more. Rowaine advocates spending some time on Aquilla. Ethalyn advises that she will not be returning with them to the Ships of Song. Interestingly, neither will Shalélu. She has been having numerous meetings with the queen; it appears that these will continue. Tomen's commission has been fulfilled; he asks to return to Aquilla with the party.

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