Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Blood on the Beach

We left off the last session on a cliffhanger: the characters had fought their way to the beach so they could infiltrate a fortress in hopes of liberating the "goddess" Scylla, but they roused the fortress's guardians, who were now on guard for their arrival. 


Catarina, unconventional prioress

Pendleton, rogue anatomist

Raoul, necromancer

Geradd, swashbuckling nobleman

Daytona, dhampir gunslinger

Panthalassa, feral child


We opened with the party on the beach, their fallen foes arrayed before them. In the center of the island stood a five-towered fortress. A causeway connected a small guardhouse to the fortress proper. Cannon fire and the occasional death scream could be heard from the sea, where the Dawnrazor was locked in nautical combat with a ship flying the Church's flag.

A bell was tolling from within the fortress, probably alerted to the party's presence because they had been firing pistols at the foes who followed them ashore, calling troops to form ranks outside the guardhouse. From the dim lanterns at the guardhouse, the party understood there to be six templars in knightly armor, a templar captain, a nun with a shaved head, and ten humans in ragged clothes who were walking on all fours instead of upright--the latter of which made them very uneasy.

(Because Daytona has night vision he could also see that there were three archers standing atop the guardhouse with longbows.) 

The party hid within tree cover and debated how to tackle the enemies between them and the fortress. They considered trying to lure their enemies in waves into successive ambushes, they floated the idea of a frontal assault, and even a stealthy approach was (briefly) on the table. In the end, they discussed their options for too long; the figures going about on all fours caught their scent and the entire host made their way down to the beach.

What followed was a massive, edge-of-the-seat battle. The party summoned as much aid as they could to make up for the disparity in size between their group and their foes, calling forth dire wolves, a few undead, and a demonic knight. Still, they were mobbed by enemies, effectively cut off from aiding one another. Things tipped badly against them when the nun began chanting and afflicted them with blindness.

Both Catarina and Pendleton were nearly gutted by their enemies. The tide turned when Geradd managed to slay several templars and then moved to dispatch the bestial penitents who were biting and clawing at his companions. When the battle was over, the group badly needed to recuperate and made full use of Pendleton's healing alchemy. Still, much of their resources were now spent and they hadn't even entered the fortress.

Daytona slipped away and, under the cover of night, made his way to the guardhouse. Taking the archers unaware, he fanned the hammer of his pistol and managed to shoot them all down in one fell swoop. The way in was now clear.

When the group ventured inside the fortress, they found it eerily quiet. During their exploration of the fortress, they found the journal of Cardinal Radinov. Although Geradd had slain the priest in a prior adventure, the dates in his journal suggested that he had somehow survived. 

They also found notes that hinted at the Church's current plan. The Church was pursuing "the Golden Push," an organized crusade to take back land that had been wrested from their hands. Among the places to be reconquered were Lachryma and the Isle of Omera. There were also references to the summoning of an entity called the Autarch Angel, which sounded distinctly sinister to their ears.

(Daytona also found needed to cause the angel's sword he had taken to flare to life with a blade of flame.)

When Raoul examined the fortress's towers through the enchanted kaleidoscope, he saw a shaft of light descending from the heavens and piercing through the northwestern tower. Deducing that this is the tower in which the Autarch Angel had been summoned, they entered and found that the stairs descended down into a pool of water and ascended up several floors. 

Three of the group could easily breath underwater: Catarina because she wore enchanted bracers, Pendleton and Geradd because they had gills from the mask ritual they participated in within the Necropolis of Omera. Catarina and Geradd decided to dive into the water to see if Scylla was trapped as she was in the dream that Panthalassa and Catarina shared. Down in the briny depths, they found Scylla trapped within a cage made of angelic blood. Catarina passed Scylla the Brineblade, and the "sea goddess" began bashing the sword into the bars of the cage, slowly cutting them away. Once their was a hole big enough to escape, Scylla left the cage and gathered Geradd and Catarina too her, kissing them with her fang-lined mouth. After the brief embrace, Scylla swam off and Geradd and Catarina returned to the tower. 

At the top of the tower, the group discovered an angel in black armor, its head obscured by a helmet, hanging from chains. The angel's body had been pierced through in several places with golden lances. Daytona, craving angelic blood, climbed up to the angel to sample its essence. However, the angel broken its chains, landing in the chamber with Daytona's companions. The angel pulled one of the lances from its body and stalked toward the party.

Still battered and bruised from their fight on the beach, the group decided to drop down into the water rather than face the angel. Of course, since only three of the party could survive the swim to safety from underneath the island, many of them were still in dire peril. As they struggled to reach breathable air, they lost consciousness. The last thing they saw was a feminine shape, her lower extremities a mass of tentacles, swimming toward them out of the darkness.

The group awoke on the beach, having been saved from drowning by Scylla. From the timber and detritus washing up on shore, they could tell that the Church's vessel had been destroyed. Recovering their boats, they rowed out to the Dawnrazor. As Pendleton climbed aboard, he was intercepted by Captain Laurant. She bent down to whisper in his ear. As she turned away, everyone realized that she had quickly cut his face. The wounding object she had used to cut him clattered to the deck: it was a sharp, broken seashell.

(Raoul later determined that the wound was magical in some way, but was unable to identify or dispel the magic.)

Once back in Lachryma, the group received a letter from Serafina: she had discovered that the Skarnesti Circus would soon be setting up outside of Hemlock Hollow. Serafina and Widow would meet the group en route so they could try to find the Mantle of Iron Tears within the circus.