Sundered Skies

Between a Rock and a Statue (continued)
Adventure 6 (continued)

You follow up on the list Tolas Gundar provided of the sales his employees distributed the statues two, by batch of delivery. Finding every statue in the first shipment broken the focus is turned toward the complete shipment of the second delivery to House Fruvil, which deals in rare antiques and artifacts from  The Shattered City  and sells them in Shadowhaven. The head of the trade house, one Bophin Fruvil, passes along the unforunate update that this lead transport ship, the Zephyr, left port just the day previous.

Tying up loose ends and preparing to sail after the Zephyr, Blackthorn and Steelforged follow Rathier's advise and meets with his friend at the Market district garrison, Lieutenant Helanestra Alms, whom Blackthorn realizes is someone from his past. During the meeting, Guardsman Greg bursts through the doors hauling Guardsman Eric behind him, both having clearly been through a battle recently, and shouting that Eric has been infected by the dark-eyes and needs to be locked up. He relates a story of several other darkeyes encountered, making their way toward the garrison when they engaged them. When they were slain, someone else in the crowd became possessed.

Blackthorn and Steelforge, alongside the lieutenant and Guardsman Greg, rush out to meet the approaching darkeyes. Lowren, having witnessed the end of the conflict with Guardsman Greg and Eric, followed the crowd and threw in the battle when he caught up. Shortly incapacitating all of the darkeyes, they haul them back into the garrison and distribute them evenly among the open cells and a few rooms Rathier's tower can accommodate, while you go in search of the Zephyr in hopes to catch it before it reaches its destination.

The next morning, you set out and make incredible haste toward Shadowhaven, scouring the skies for any sign of the Zephyr. Toward the end of the second day of travel, it is sighted. When moving to close in, the Zephyr's crew springs into action and the ship about faces and opens fire with a side of cannons. A pitched battle and creative and capable sailing by Steelforged pull the Verdant from certain skyfall. In the final boarded battle with the dark-eye crew, the glowborn pilot of the Zephyr simply smiles before throwing himself into the void. One slain darkeye is also thrown overboard. An inspection of the cargo hull reveals only seven of the twelve statues had ruptured, though the seven possessed crew slew the remaining dozen plus of the Zephyr's crew.

Securing the heavily damaged Verdant, to the Zephyr, you prepare for a limping few day journey back to Gateway.

Between a Rock and a Statue
Adventure 6

After a harried fight with ogre and goblins, you take a short rest. The next morning, you go in search of the remains of your comrades and goblins slain in the fight. All you find are the sites of the skirmish and where their bodies should have been. Following a sluggish trail, you scout the northern end of the island and quickly lose the trace along the way. Finding nothing but the outer edge of the island, you strike off east toward the ruins you find on your first venture. Within the ruins, clearly older, decomposing goblin zombies are dispatched quickly beneath the ground, in the old rooms below the ruin, the other passage blocked by collapse.

A search of the ruins turns up little else besides the reanimated corpses of your comrades and the recently slain goblins. With a heavy heart held firm by determination, they are in turn put down a second and final time. With little else apparent in the ruin without significant excavation, you choose to explore the western side of the island and locate the site of a wreckage. A skysloop of orcish design, called the  Curled Fang, lies split in half from the impact upon the forest floor. Within eye shot of the crash is a gravesite, likely accounting for the perhaps older goblin zombies encountered in the ruin. The graves had been clearly disturbed and nothing remains within them.

Looking through the ship, a decent haul of salvage is discovered, including a delicately wrapped sling with the inscription "sting" stitched into the leather of the projectile patch.

With wounds to tend and little else immediately apparent, you depart for Gateway. Some days in, the ship runs afoul of a very large and dense rock field. Opting to skirt the field and add a few days to the jounrey, you discover an unusually large island, easily over a 100 miles of hilly, forest, and mountain terrain outside the rock field. A ship is docked in the capture field, called the Red Streak. Fearing a poor encounter, you take a sample of the island dirt and avoid happening upon the unseen crew of the ship and hopper docked on the island.

When you return to Gateway the city seems to be rebounding to its old busy self, but the danger of the "dark-eyes" murders continues to rise as does the body count. Within moments of arriving, a message from Tolas Gundar, unusually short and curt, demands your presence as soon as possible. At the Gundar trade House, you are questioned immediately about how much of a danger you knew the statues to be and why it was not brought to his attention as soon as you suspected. After some unconvincing back-pedaling and some harsh reprimanding from Tolas, he tells you it must be made right. He connects you with a respected member of the community in the city, named Rathier, who discovered the statues were at the heart of the problem after some of the ones he bought ruptured and his assistant was possessed. He commands you recall all the statues that you can and contain the issue as best you can.

Rathier details that he bought the statues because they reminded him of an illustration from a book his first master owned, though knew little more than that. He was able to contain one of the essences coming from the statues after he witnessed it possessing his assistant, Jules. He has since captured one of the essences and he has a similar rigging on his remaining unruptured statue to do the same. Once shown the inscribed symbol from the statue chamber, he recalls it as the same symbol printed on the cover of the book of fables the illustration of the statues were from and that story referenced gifts of peace given to invading peoples which in turn brought rampant destruction and destabilization in their ranks when they learned the truth of the gifts. He offers to help contain the statues that have not ruptured.

Skipping Town
Adventure 5

The return to Tolas at Gateway is relatively uneventful trip, barring stone hail the day before you return, a sign of landfall somewhere far, far above you, which shreds the sails and causes a delay for repairs. After completing the makeshift repairs to the sails and while approaching the city, a merchant vessel comes within hailing distance and you find is a small competitor of Gundar Trade House, bearing some chatter from the city. The captain brings tidings of a rash of murders across the city and many taking the nod to keep away for a time.

Tolas accepts his daughter's remains, as well as her crew, and the tale of their fate in stride. While horrible in its result, Tolas clearly looks like a great weight has been lifted from his shoulders and can perhaps, find closure in finally knowing what happened. He makes idle reference to the happenings in the city, but little more.

While returning to the Verdant you encounter a couple city guards dealing with a woman standing in the threshold of an alehouse, wielding a cleaver and covered in blood. She largely ignores the cries of the young guardsmen to drop her weapon and when a man exits the alehouse behind her, pleading with her, she turns in a blink and disembowels him on the front steps. You engage the woman to help the guardsmen, who look very relieved and in short order, incapacitate her. Her eyes have gone completely black. The guardsmen relate that they are finding more and more people murdered brutally throughout the city and keep finding normal people who've become 'darkeyes', as they call them, as the culprits. Most have been killed when capture has been attempted, but one is imprisoned and the woman incapacitated will make two.

Efforts to discover more about the 'darkeye' issue is largely met with resistance and suspicion by the city guard or by a lack of ability to put the murders in context or explain what is causing this in people across the city. Even the local healers along Gods Parade, or 'Miracle Mile', have mostly just seen the few wounded who've survived, though most who have been attacked have not survived and suffered brutal deaths.

Preferring to see if this issue will run itself out, you load up the Verdant and set out once again for the lumber filled island you'd intended to visit weeks before. Upon your arrival, you see no obvious signs that anyone is docked in the capture field of the island nor are docked along the perimeter. Arriving late in the day, you set up lodging high in the tree line in the form of a large flat shelter.

During the sleep cycle of the day, you are roused by the moans and stomping of an ogre, a glowmad changed orc, being led around by a group of goblins, far below you on the forest floor. They quickly spot the landing and set the orge on the tree. He lifts a mostly makeshift sledgehammer and brings it mightily down against the trunk of the tree holding you and your crew up. With some quick thinking, the captain and one of the crew slip off the platform into another tree, while one unfortunate soul slips off as the ogre's hit breaks the tree trunk from the stump, and plummets to the ground. Most of the crew finds purchase on another tree on the ride down, while the rest of the crew are thrown about to the underbrush below.

Blackthorn dispatches the goblins in one fell swipe of his axe, once he lands upon the ground and then engages the ogre but momentarily before racing off toward the Verdant, while his companions use the cover of the trees to pursue the same course. The ogre keeps close to him as they race toward the ship and just before reaching it, passes Blackthorn and stands him down. In a closely pitched battle, Blackthorn just manages to best the ogre before it connects another thunderous hit against him. Hauling the ogre's body on board to collect a bounty via Lowren back in Gateway, you take some deep breaths and assess the losses the battle wrought.

Tolas' Lost Things
Adventure 4

With new found funding and a will to sail, you stock up and plan a return to the tree-laden island of your first venture with a new crew to lumber and sell back in Gateway. Only a few days out from the city, the Verdant chances upon the same teardrop-shaped island spotted some weeks past. Though, this time, no creature is sighted flying about the spire of the rocky island. Hoping for a better view of the island, you fly high and above the peak and look down upon it. Through a small cloud ring near the top of the peak, a large shadow speeds below the surface and within moments bursts upward toward the ship and lands on deck, smashing the cargo hold cover.

A desperate battle ensues between crew, hired hand, and drake. A first cannon shot goes wild, only grazing the beast and sending the shot out into the void. A second strikes true and followed by a vicious exchange between man and drake before the beast is bested and collapses atop the deck. Seeing this as the best scenario for recovering and selling the remains, you scout the island below and find the unnamed remains of a frigate that crashed into the mountainous island some long age past. Recovering intact chests and some additional salvage in the cleft lair of the drake, you return to Gateway prematurely to unload your new and unexpected haul.

You return to find Tolas in a very poor state and just after he issued a summons to see you upon your return to the city. He accepts your new haul and pays you for your unexpected salvage and then relates some little known background into how he began his business. It turns out his daughter, Emma, was his first scavenger captain and a very successful one at that. She, her crew, and her ship, the Fury Rose, disappeared over five years ago. Karr happened upon an island where he thought he sighted the wreckage of the Fury Rose and returned with a soil sample of it. Tolas charges you to locate the island and return with word, if it exists, of how his daughter passed and if possible, recover what remains of her.

Putting a hold on sailing out to the lumber island, you sail out to the island, less than a week out from the city, and after a blessedly uneventful journey, locate it. Sure enough, the Fury Rose indeed crashed into the island, directly into a tower ruin, causing it to collapse around it. Upon first attempting to board the ship, you are assaulted by an unlikely sight, barnacle apes wielding stone from the ruins and hurling them at your hopper as you approach. Dispatching two of the beasts, the rest scamper around the sides of the hull.

The deck is barren except for a small pile of skulls. Within the hold, you find where the barnacle apes had made their home, with far more inside than you encountered out and equally aggressive, and driven by a larger and by al rights, mutated barnacle ape with fiery eyes and long clawed hands. After a desperate battle, the larger ape is slain causing the remaining apes to flee the hold. The remainder of the hired crew returns to the hopper to await your return, clearly not prepared for any additional such encounters.

The deck offers a small passage into the tower ruins, of which remains only a crumbling staircase down into the basement of the tower. From below, you hear a lamenting crying and scratching sounds. What you discover turns your heart and your stomach. You find yourself in the presence of a completely corrupted and horribly disfigured humanoid of some kind. It wails at your approach and snaky tentacles slip from its back and into the skeletal remains of four poor souls at its feet. The tentacles cause the skeletons to animate and join in on the assault upon you.

You dispatch the horrid humanoid and the skeletons crumble into small piles of bone and tattered clothing. You sight distinguishing gloves and a signet ring on one of the skeletons and recover Emma and the remaining crews' remains for return to Tolas.

Return to Pirate Isle
Adventure 3

As Tolas, has little work for you, you take the opportunity to hire on some temporary crew via one of the local labor groups led by a glowborn man, Boris, to help with the hope of either clearing out the pirates that may remain at the island you returned from and/or aid with the excavation of the statues located beneath their grave site excavation.

While the longer trip return to the island is uneventful and the crew and hired hands get on well throughout the relatively short journey, you are met with a welcome site upon your arrival. The Harrier and, after a search of the grave site and the ruin keep confirms, the remaining pirates have cleared out. You also discover that the cap of the grave site above the statue cavern has collapsed in. Days are spent clearing the now open cavern of dirt and stone and when complete, you find one statue had been overturned and lay next to the remains of the pirate you stranded in the cavern upon your last visit.

Loading a dozen of the statues, just nearly half of what was contained in the cavern, upon the Verdant both above and below decks, you secure your cargo and begin the journey back to Gateway. After a couple days of travel you spy a small, teardrop-shaped island far out from you and with a large bird-like figure circling the spire of the mountain it looks to be a chunk of. Something glinting in the sky nearby it in a couple places moves about as well, but it is all too far out to define clearly. Preferring not to tangle with whatever creature resides on the island, you press on. The next day, you are stopped by a Trade Council Patrol that inspects your papers and cargo to verify no illegal trade business was being conducted. Quickly resolved and cleared, you continue on to Gateway.

Tolas Gundar inspects and accepts the statues from the island with much excitement and encourages you to collect and return with the remainder as soon as you are able. He pays forward a heavy advance and sets to work moving the new novelties.

Planning to do just that and with plenty of time still remaining for your hired crew, you set back out to the island and arrive within the same near week time frame, without incident. You find the island as you left it and with some additional rigging in place, you secure the remaining baker's dozen statues and depart to Gateway.

During the return, the Verdant is set upon by a glimmerwing swarm, birds or similar-like creatures with bodies and coverings so glossy, they reflect and amplify the glow around them. Despite a harsh and painful encounter, some of the newly installed modifications to the ship allow you to outpace the creatures with ease. That next evening, a terrible cracking is heard throughout the ship. After a thorough investigation, you discover one of the statues has moved into a new position and a large rent is open around its throat and neck area, revealing the inside of the statue is hollow. A second search of the ship reveals no lurking horrors, so a watch is set to look after the statues above and below decks.

The next night, Helga, an unfortunate looking, though capable warrior, goes mad and lashes out during the night watch, nearly mortally wounding one. She is finally put down and found that her eyes had gone completely black and she had been mutilating herself with her own blade. As an executive decision, you throw both body and statue overboard and into the void.

The return trip is otherwise uneventful and Tolas accepts the remaining statues upon your return with news that he has successfully sold the first batch and pays out heavily for the remainder and the new shipment.

Shephard is a Liar
Adventure 2

Tolas Gundar  once again contracts you to venture to another island aboard the Chance with her captain Karr, though this time, it is to verify the reporting of another of Tolas's scavenger captains, an elf by the name Shephard, who is suspected of under-performing his duties.

After days of boring travel, the Chance comes across a pitched battle between two pirate frigates and a larger galleon, which you come to realize in horror is a dreaded and believed scary story figment, a Deathbarge, crewed by the dead and led by even worse, if the stories are true. The Deathbarge sinks one of the ships and then chases the other when it turns and flees. The sinking ship breaks apart and dumps crew and cargo into the open void.

Another couple days and the target of your journey comes in sight, though, you do indeed find, Shephard's report is far from accurate. While the smaller island above is scoured bare, the larger island below and in its shadow, is a hilly grassland sporting a keep ruin and docked along side the edge of the island  is a pirate ship, the Harrier.

Choosing to avoid conflict if possible, Karr steers the Chance to the other side of the island where you sight a large dig site centered on a smaller hill. Between shifts, you investigate and find the site is a burial ground and the pirates are excavating the remains. In the bottom of the deepest grave, you break through into a large cavern containing strange life-like statues of squid-faced humanoids in scaled armor and wielding steel-like halberds.

As a work crew begins working its way back to the island, you stage an ambush and with daring and precise efforts dispatch three of the workers and strand another in the newly discovered cavern. While the rest of the pirate crew leaves the keep ruin to investigate the find, you sneak into the ruins and find the pirates have set up a solid base of operations and are solely focused on the excavation. Upon finishing barring their armory and setting their provision room ablaze, the pirates return and discover you, setting off a chase between you and eventually just their captain, a dwarf you come to find out is named Ulrich.

Ulrich falls victim to the endless depths of the void after a failed attempt to expunge his rage upon you as you make your escape from the island. The Chance makes its escape with you aboard shortly thereafter and you watch as the Harrier and its remaining crew scramble in the mayhem.

Upon your return to Gateway, your meeting with Tolas's rewards you with the update that your newly contracted vessel the Verdant is fully repaired and ready for use. You also have a chance run in with his now unemployed and vessel-less scavenger captain, Shephard, in his office, who relates some choice words and a warning to you.

Lost Scavengers
Adventure 1

After escaping the clutches and immediate reach of the elves, two wildlings and their boughbreaker separate and as fate would have it reconnect in the far reaches of The Shattered City at the hub city of Gateway. Drawn by an advert seeking brave souls to explore and search the ancient islands and ruins throughout The Shattered City, they meet Tolas Gundar, a rising merchant in Gateway who hires them to determine the fate of one of his other scavenger teams aboard the Verdant. Sailing upon the Chance, captained by a superstitious orc known as Karr Luckfinder. Upon locating the island, they find the Verdant has suffered serious damage to the hull due to weeks of drifting into the island's rocky shore.

Going ashore themselves, they find a path the crew in question struck out upon into the wooded landscape of the large island. Deep within the forest, in a bowl valley on the eastern side, the remains of a once large ruined building is revealed. Near one outer corner, they find some of the crew buried and dead midst a collapsed section of the floor, now little more than a wide pit ending in an old storeroom or basement to the complex. While investigating the dead crew, a path carved by those surviving the fall leads off to a stairwell deep into the ground and opens upon a series of rooms. The stench of death gives little warning when several risen dead stumble from the other rooms and attack.

After dispatching the lumbering zombies, they find the dismembered remains of the rest of the crew. To stave off any chance of another rising, the bodies are brought together in the collapsed pit and burned. Returning to the Verdant and Chance, Karr secured the Verdant to be towed back to Gateway.

Upon their return, negotiations are engaged with Tolas about eventually becoming the new crew and captain of the Verdant, once repaired with the agreement they will sell their salvage to him exclusively until such time as they pay off the debt of the ship. In the mean-time, Tolas promises more work opportunities, having proven themselves quite capable.

What Skies Are These...

Your world is equal parts strange and wonderful. A seemingly endless expanse of islands floating amidst the ceaselessly lit skies. In your younger days, you heard as many theories and stories of its creation as there are reported islands scattered throughout, and by all accounts, none know how many islands there are. The eldest among your people speak of tales their ancestors passed down about a great rending of a once unified world, though what caused it, no one can say with certainty. What holds the islands aloft is also unknown, though some say gods, others, magic, but most seem not to have a care for the hows or whys of the world around them, just that it continue to be so.

Vastly different peoples and creatures find home and hearth throughout this expanse of the Skies and on untold numbers of islands. While there are larger settlements and cities atop the largest and most frequented islands, people are scattered, just like the world that may once have been. Ships of all type and description sail the Skies, some seeking adventure, some trade, and others to deprive others of both.

What little rains that fall are said to result from the great frozen islands high above in the Draining Sea and by the time the great pieces of broken ice descend, they are warmed and scattered across the Skies. As with all things, scarcity and rationing is well known and anticipated on most islands where they must go without or, more commonly, trade to make up the difference. Residing over the trade industry in the Skies is the Trade Council and any ships embarking in this profession are thus employed. The organization and order of the Trade Council ensures islands throughout the Skies are supplied as needed, largely securing peace between the people of the islands.

Many races remain divided in the Skies, to a large extent, and some more isolationist than others. The Drakin of Dragon’s Spine and the Elves of Heartland on one end of the spectrum are the most reclusive in nature, holding much of their designated islands in secret to all but their own people, reserving designated and divided areas at these locations for trade. The Dwarves of Deepsky Citadel and Mount Ore reside lowest and closest to the Flaming Skies far below where no ship or creature can hope to sail or survive. The Orcs of the northern altitudes are mainly nomadic, though their largest fixed community is called the Meeting Place. Many range and wander the upper Ice Isles. Humans are the most common and widely dispersed among the Skies.

More of the strange. The Glow. It is a pervasive, ever-present illumination in the Skies. It is all you’ve known. Prolonged exposure to the Glow has an aggressive and degrading effect on the mind and with enough exposure, can cause one to lose all sense of their reason and self and go Glowmad. While buildings and such cast shadows, sentient beings do not. More strangely still, the glow effects some differently. Some goblins, for instance, become not a rager but instead something new, coined the Glowborn. The glow changes their bodies and shapes them into something new. In recent history, so many have become known, that they have been given their own home on Freedom Isle.

Throughout your short life, you have always felt unease and out of place with the world that has only grown as each year passes. It troubled your sleep as a child and has bled into your waking hours to this day. This unsettled feeling has brought you from your home and into the Skies. Perhaps by seeing more of your world you will begin to understand it better and in the process, your place in it.


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