Thanks to the great calamity brought on my Orwig I have decided it’s time for us to leave and try our hand at the newly discovered island continent to the south. We’ve taken an offer from the Ironcog Company to handle miscellaneous odd jobs as a way to avoid any – complications – that might come our way otherwise. The journey across the sea was rather uneventful although most of the crew and passengers seemed to be much like ourselves in regards to a questionable past. Although Orwig and I have traveled extensively, as tieflings do being frowned upon in most places, even here I’ve noticed some unfamiliar races in the mix.
Making landfall the mixture of beings held the same complexity. A fellow with an apparent avian heritage greeted Orwig and I, as well as a few others, giving us a preview of our work detail and how the island currently functioned. Among our group was a large stone man named Flint Stone but asked that we call him Fred; a thin pale woman I assumed to be a Drow named Sushi, and a strange individual named Ariah which I dubbed Fish because he’s a mermaid-looking creature. Orwig’s taste for submissives was quickly awakened and seemed to be much more acceptable here on the island. In two days time we are to meet again with Crowe, the avian gentleman, and begin fulfilling our work order.
- * *
In time we held our meeting with Crowe where we discussed our business privately. Although people vanished regularly it would seem someone important to the company had gone missing. The details were shaky but the belief is that a slaver, rival to the company affairs, was cutting into profits and had to be taught a lesson as they were the suspected culprits. Our mission was simple: rescue the official by any means available and deliver a message to the slaver. With such little information we were released and set to work.
Our team, although greatly different from one another, complimented each other greatly. Upon the docks the Drow worked charismatically on a young worker gathering our first real lead as Fred and I kept a short leash on Orwig as he charged up every ship he could manage before we carried him away. As was his nature Fish scouted the vessels from the water looking for any signs of slave traffic.
Sushi’s lead was marvelous, taking us to an abandoned building near the piers. Lacking any form of tactfulness, unfortunately, Orwig burst through the doors withdrawing our element of surprise. Although the ensuing skirmish was short lived we proved that we could be a rather lethal and effective force as a whole. Both Fred and Orwig showed to be brutes in battle cutting down multiple foes together and even Fish revealed that he wasn’t made of glass. Sushi revealed to be a murderous vixen as she vanished in the shadows only to reappear with her blade deep within an enemy’s backside.
With our foes vanquished we returned to our task. As we released a shipment of fresh slaves two remained with us: one as an apprentice to Fish and the other, regrettably, as Orwig’s newest submissive. In the aftermath we also recovered a hostage that had tried to abolish the presence of slavery on the island. Obviously he failed. He was able to give us our next lead however. During his captivity and torture he witnessed our target being taken away by orcs that carried a foul scent. The only key clue he could afford us, however, was that they kept mentioning the Prancing Prince.
The Prancing Prince was a massive establishment at the far end of our “town.” One of the oldest buildings it was easily the most active. Both a tavern and large inn, it housed many of the residents. Entering the tavern Fred, Orwig and I took our seats at a table near the center of the room as Sushi and Ariah searched for clues and spoke to the bartender. Behind the bar through the kitchen door Sushi found her prize as she noticed the presence of orcs causing a commotion among the staff.
Rejoining our table we all discussed our situation. Having already endured one encounter this evening we decided to use the remainder of the night as a surveillance opportunity and relax for the moment. Together we decided it would be best to cause a distraction to empty the bar and kitchen before trying to press further into our search.
Walking into the Prancing Prince the following night we found no change in the festivities and thus put our plan in motion. Sushi, using her natural talents slipped into the shadows finder her place near the bar. Ariah entered the bathroom across from the bar. A few minutes later he returned to the table letting us know to be ready. The moments passed slowly as we waited. To our luck no one tried to enter into the bathroom for several minutes, more than enough time for our plan to take hold. At last a patron approached the door and Ariah released his magical lock on the door.
In an instant the door was opened and flames erupted from the room. Ariah had created a small fire that had grown quite well while we had waited. The bartender yelled to the kitchen as he and others rushed to the bathroom to extinguish the flames. It was time to move. The four of us at the table jumped across the bar as Sushi gave the signal that the kitchen was clear. Making our way to the back she walked to the back exit of the kitchen and relayed that it was a dock for only a single large ship, the pier holding only one worker apparently on watch.
Stepping through the door she called to the worker trying to persuade him to come help but he never waivered and ordered that she return and exit through the front. With no time to spare for delicacies Fred charged out the door and to the lone orc on watch. With the help of Ariah, Fred managed to dispatch the lone guard quickly as we followed in his wake. Quickly we decided to move up the brow.
We were quickly met by two more orcs at the top of the ship armed and ready for a brawl. As we advanced we engaged in battle. A third figure came into the fray but it wasn’t until after our quickened battle that we realized the condition of the foe. The first two had been orc skirmishers, no doubt, but the third had appeared to be an animated corpse, recently felled in combat.
We waited for others to approach us, but none came. Slowly we searched the upper decks looking for a captain’s quarters so that we could find the captive official and deliver our “message” but the quarters were not so easily found. Delving into the lower decks we found no more attackers, only large crates that we assumed to be for holding food stores and slaves but still no quarters significant enough to be that of the captain. At last we crept upon the hull of the ship. With no portholes beneath the water line the hull appeared dark and cold. Large crates filled the main space, and to the rear was a cage with only a sole being within it.
As we approached a call came to us from what seemed all directions. “Leave or forever join my crew.” In a fevered attempt we tried to discern the voice of the caller, and in vain all we received to our reply was an insidious laughter. With a thundering crash multiple crates erupted, skeletal forms emerged striking out at our party. With heavy handed blows Orwig and Fred dropped the first two monsters and began to move toward the cage. Moving around the mast beam in the center of the room more grave figures stood and attacked.
Moving pass the skeletons Fred tried to rush towards the cage but was abruptly halted as a ghostly visage struck out moving out of the mast. Blades crashed against one another as Orwig and Sushi dealt with a pair of skeletons in one corner of the room. Ariah and myself joined Fred in battling the ghost. Our attacks moved through his ethereal body leaving him less harmed than we would have hoped. Again, more skeletons awoke from within their crates hoping to add as to their crew.
Filling my sword with divine strength I cut once more into the transparent body of the ghost. The blade found purchase and the damage was true. The spirit dissipated, melting into the air as the remaining undead fell to dust around our feet. The deed was done. Moving with less excitement Fred lifted the cage from the lone hostage and Sushi removed his bonds. Behind the cage we found the entrance to the last cabin, the captain’s quarters. In our search we found the desk for us to place our “message” as well as some miscellaneous items and pockets of gold. It wasn’t like the dead could go out and spend the money any more.
Returning to Crowe, we delivered the official and received our first reward and payment for job completion. As it would appear, we had handled a little extra business for Crowe by starting the fire in the Prancing Prince as he managed to give us a little extra for our efforts and already had plans for our usefulness in the future. In a few days he would find us again for our next assignment.
- * *
The following days were quiet. The Prancing Prince was closed while under repairs and other than keeping Orwig at bay from the local slave venders time passed by rather uneventfully. On the morning of the fourth day after our return with the official we were greeted once again by Crowe. Still in his ever cheerful yet somewhat mysterious mood he welcomed us to the center of the town at the base of a mountain path. Here he proceeded to give us information on our next assignment as well as a chance to further explore the island. Across the mountain several small outposts had been established, several of them used as lumber yards and depots. Rumors of a strange illness have been spreading after an encounter with resident fey. Our job this time was simple as before, find out the cause of the disease, remove it if possible and dispose of any hostilities.
Within a few hours we had our gear together and moved across the mountain ridge leaving behind Ariah’s apprentice and Orwig’s submissive. As the day began to fall late into the afternoon sun we reached the lumber camp. Two rows of tents lined the area but no workers were afoot. Closer into the camp we approached watching for any movement.
In the distance a loud crash thundered as a single man ran from a collapsing tent. As the cloth of the tent tore away we were able to see the cause of the calamity, two large bears had wandered into the site and were rampaging. Ignoring the fleeing man we charged into the camp to subdue the beasts, unfortunately during my charge I caught the anchor rope of a neighboring tent and fell head first into a beam rendering myself unconscious. As I came around the others had already dispatched the bears and were dealing with the cowering man we had first seen.
From what I had deduced along with what the others had told me during the battle the bears had burst from the inside scattering their gore all around the as well as some strange flower petals. The petals were white with hues of red and orange in their center which had earned them their title of Flamebloom flowers. Questioning the camp coward was rather useless. The poor fellow was in fear of his life of coming any where near us for fear of contracting the mysterious plague which had befallen his comrades. From the gore splattered over Fred, Orwig and I it wasn’t like I really blamed him for being concerned.
He was able to direct us to the tent of the foreman, a haggard sort of guy who’s condition was quite unwell. After a brief conversation, held at a safe distance from one another, we were able to find a little more information about the plague. They were calling the disease Palepox due to white diseased growths that developed on the victims before rupturing furthering the spread of the disease. It had first appeared after they met hostility with the fey folk of the forest and other apparent natives that were tending to a grove of trees carrying the Flamebloom flowers. It was here that we would hopefully find some answers, the only catch was that we would have to take the foreman with us or risk become lost in the forest. We really should seek the help of a tracker of some sort next time.
- * *
After another hour of trekking through the forest we edged up to the grove that the foreman had told us of previously. Remaining true to her ninja skill Sushi disappeared into the tree line looking for a place that would be most opportunistic for when the need would arise. Stealth is not such an easy task for someone like Fred, nor is subtlety a favored skill of Orwig’s. Together the two walked directly into the field ensuring all that were tending to the trees would notice them. Fish and I followed in tow, preparing ourselves for any hostilities.
Sparing only a moment of awe at witnessing such a strange crowd wondering into their grove the attendants were quick to have us removed from the area. With shears, scythes and slings they came at us slashing and whirling their bullets. Fred and Orwig met the first two side by side as Ariah and myself split up heading down to separate paths in the rows of trees. As Fred finished with his first villain, which burst from within with strange plant growth, he moved ahead of me striking down another from his place atop a ladder which he had been pruning the leaves.
A fourth combatant chased after Ariah only to meet with a blade leaping out from the shadows as Sushi pierced his flesh before receiving the final blow from Ariah himself. This one too had been mysteriously filled with white and red flowers. A fifth attacker rushed over as Orwig slew his fiend and joined Fred and I at the now hopeless gardener. To all of our dismay Orwig had no interest in slaughtering the gardener, but rather was trying to detain him placing shackles around his wrists and ankles.Taken aback Fred and I turned our attention to the new rival as he tried feverishly to distract Orwig from his task. After a few moments of exchanging blows we all took notice of what Orwig’s true intentions were. Ariah and Sushi had already withdrawn from the field, and to my surprise Fred had already begun to do the same. Having found the opportunity to dominate a foe in the most disturbing of ways Orwig had removed the trousers of his bound soon-to-be-victim and was preparing to mount the near-death individual.
It would appear that in the midst of battle even enemies can find themselves understanding the presence of an instant truce even without speaking. Three things had crossed my mind that I feel also beseeched that of my attacker: 1) The other villains had exploded with Palepox carrying flowers when slain in battle. 2) How and why had Orwig managed to get in this predicament. 3) Dear gods, this is not going to happen with me standing next to them.
The final attacker and I glanced at Orwig and his terrified foe before locking eyes with each other and retreating from each other at the same moment. Ten feet. Twenty feet. Thirty feet. I was not far enough. I could hear the cries from both the man on the ground and Orwig, one filled with agonizing and terrifying death, the other with the shrill pitch of excitement as Orwig penetrated the man with such force that it ended is life sending a spewing of gore, petals and excrement all over Orwig and his “gear.”
Pleading with us, the fifth attacker fell at the feet of Fred, Sushi and I begging for not only his life but to be kept away from Orwig. Although he spoke in a foreign language his intentions were more than clear. Keeping Orwig far away from all of us, dear gods he smelled something horrible, we were able to calm the man. I recognized parts of his speech as a branch of Sylvan. Although it was different from the language I recognized it was still close enough for us to communicate roughly. And thus our interrogation began…