Chapter 02: Crabs & Hags

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Session Number: 14
Date: Sunday 30th November 2014
Venue: Densial's
PCs & Players:

Kyra Clr2 (4633 xp) (Yeran absent) (kills: none)
Lem Brd2 (3683 xp) (Fergus - remote) (kills: none)
Merisiel Rog2 (4633 xp) (Ash absent) (kills: none)
Seelah Pal2 (5033 xp) (Alain) (kills: none)
Valeros Ftr2 (4878 xp) (Craig) (kills: 1 giant crab, nearly another, nearly a sea hag thing)

XP Awarded: 250

"You are lucky to be alive," Seelah says to Ewem, pointedly looking at Valeros.

"We did alright," the big fighter replies.

"We would have done a lot better if one of us weren't drunk!"

"Hey!" Valeros snaps. "How many did you kill?"

"I thought it better to rescue our drowning first mate!" Ewem looks sheepish.

"Fair point," Valeros concedes. "You stay there, Ewem," he says. "I'll watch where we're going today."

"Can you see straight?" Seelah quips.

"I thought paladins were meant to be civil!"

Seelah's mouth opens, then closes again. "You are right. My apologies." She bows and heads over to Lem. "You are still hurt. Allow me." She Lays Hands on the halfling.

Valeros stands at the barge's bow, his longbow ready, calling out obstacles to Captain Walren. He leaves his heavy chain mail under his hammock, wary of the water.

The day and the miles wear on until evening draws near. The captain anchors the Black Mist in the calmer region of the river. After everyone has had their evening meal, Lem performs a series of stories, jokes and songs to entertain the others. He is a gifted orator, even drawing a smile from the normally uneffusive Seelah. Her smile grows wide-eyed as she spots a very large pincer grab at the deck railing as something large and crustaceany clambers aboard!

The crab clatters to the deck timbers and it scuttles towards Lem, still lost in his song. Valeros grabs his swords and moves around the intruder, only to spot a second crab climbing up the starboard bow! He gets behind the first crab and stabs at the second, missing. Seelah moves opposite Valeros and performs a huge overarm swing with her long sword, hitting and cracking the crab's upper shell. The second crab climbs aboard: Valeros stabs at its tantalising underbelly as it teeters on the railing but his aim is off. The crab moves towards the captain and attacks twice: both pincers savage the dwarf's legs and his blood runs freely onto the deck. Captain Walren shakes his head to clear the fog but the mauling is too severe and he collapses to the deck. The crab grabs the fallen dwarf with both pincers and begins dragging him back towards the railing. Valeros stows his short sword and launches himself at the crab's legs. He grabs as many clawed legs as he can and with a visceral roar flips the crab over onto its back and falls on top of it! He looks at the other crab and bellows, "You're next!" Seelah swings mightily again at the other crab, but this time her blade bounces harmlessly off the creature's exoskeleton. Lem steps backwards and bellows out an inspiring stanza of an old poem. The overturned crab drops the seemingly lifeless captain and nips at Valeros but misses. Valeros releases the crab and regains his feet, drawing his short sword and stabbing at the other crab. His long sword enters the crab's face and cleaves its brain. "I said you were next!" Valeros says as it collapses, spitting on his downed enemy and turning towards the other. All close upon the remaining crab, which scuttles back over the railing and drops into the river and escapes.

Ewem and the party gather round the fallen captain. Seelah guides them while she staunches the worst of the bleeding. Within thirty seconds, she declares that they have done their best; he may just pull through. She and Ewem carefully carry him to a hammock.

The next morning Seelah Lays Hands on the captain and he regains consciousness. "Thank you," he says when he is able. "I didn't think I'd make it."

"Of course you were going to make it," Seelah says. "You are a dwarf!" The captain smiles.

The third day ends and Ewem weighs anchor. Lem performs again - this time with the others keeping a watchful eye on the railings. His performance surpasses that of the night before. He has more material.

Night falls. Seelah takes the first four-hour watch, followed by Valeros, then Lem. There are no incidents.

Morning, night and the next morning pass uneventfully. The barge enters Lake Encarthan and follows the coast to the southwest. The uninterrupted rest has done everyone a world of good.

The fifth day passes and evening approaches. Captain Walren says that they should reach Tamran tomorrow, or the next day at the latest. Lem treats the others to a rousing tale of magic, faith, camaraderie and mayhem that everyone enjoys. He really is very good at his craft.

Seelah settles into first watch. Three hours in, the sounds of nocturnal river wildlife are drowned out by an unnerving scream! Lem wakes at the noise but Valeros, Ewem and Walren slumber on. Seelah sees a skeletal yet female creature with emaciated, greenish skin on the deck midship. It turns and fixes its stare upon her. She feels bile well up but chokes it down. "Alarm! Alarm!" she cries.

Lem shakes Valeros and yells. Captain Walren and Ewem quickly rouse, but Valeros' eyes take some time to focus.

Valeros sleeps like the dead. Which he might well become.

The creature's stare settles again on Seelah who feels a wave of evil break over her, but faith in Iomedae steadies her nerve. The creature looks affronted. It stalks towards the armoured paladin, who brutally chops at it with her long sword but misses.

The world snaps into focus for Valeros. He grabs his paired swords and stomps unarmoured and barefoot out onto the deck. Near the bow he sees Seelah engaged with a nightmarish apparition. The creature's stare immediately gives him pause and he feels his dinner churning in his craw, but fights off the building nausea. Seelah marks the creature with another powerful blow, one that would cut many men in half, Valeros notes, but the creature stoically absorbs the violence. In return, it rakes abnormally long, clawed fingers across the paladin's chest with inhuman speed and strength. Seelah's armour is strong, but not strong enough! The two slams twist her right then left, and she slumps to the floor.

Lem emerges from the sleeping quarters and the creature fixes him with its stare. He feels sickened and his knees buckle. He whirls his sling around and looses a stone that hits the creature solidly in the head - 'toc!' - but his weakness robs the missile of much of its power.

Valeros closes with the creature and stabs with two blades but does not hurt it. The captain and first mate advance bravely, covering the downed paladin and distracting the creature. Lem looses another stone at the creature but it flies high.

What to do? Valeros' ally lies beside him, bleeding out; his enemy stands before him, barely marked. He weighs the odds and comes to a dark conclusion: there is little chance he can down this creature before Seelah dies. He kicks out at waist height with his bare foot. The creature anticipates swords, not a kick; its breath explodes from its lungs as Valeros' foot crushes its stomach. It tumbles backwards off the side of the barge, splashing into the water and disappearing beneath the surface.

"Seelah!" cries Valeros. There is no answer.

"Here, hold this!" Captain Walren says to his first mate. "You, put pressure there!" he barks at Lem. Together, with Valeros keeping a watchful eye on the water, they manage to stem the flow of blood. But Seelah is very badly hurt. The captain and Valeros carry her to a stretcher, the same one that held the captain in his convalescence.

Valeros resumes watch and the remainder of the night passes. By morning, Seelah has improved but remains unconscious.

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