While traveling down the southern trade road towards the city of Barsella, a group of strangers joined forces after hearing many tales of the brigands of the road and the terrors of the Ghostlight Forest. The day was heavily overcast and the sun nothing but an obscured orb in the sky. The constant drizzle, while never a true rain, also wore at the spirits of the group, while Calliope and Rohk were ahorse, the others walked on the worn, wet stones of the trade road. As night began to fall, they reached a fork in the road.
Having been told when they each set out to “just follow the road south and it’ll git ya to Barsella…” the group did not take the eastern fork of the road into the Ghostlight forest (especially when Lewis recalled a something he had overheard some months before (Knowledge (Local) DC 10); instead choosing to travel on into the cold, wet night in the hope of at least finding some place more suitable (and sheltered) to camp for the night than the broken, rocky ground along the trade road.
After nearly 3 hours more of slow, sodden traveling, the group was happily surprised to stumble onto the small fishing hamlet of Flathead. Comprised of a small tavern/inn (the Drowned Fisherman; sign is a drowned man floating in a flagon), a chapel to the Trident of the Sea (a three-sided triangular shaped building with shrines to Besmara (CN), Gozreh (N), and Zogmugot (CE)), a huge warehouse-like structure with a tower from which a large crane is suspended, and 15 small sturdy stone cottages built in the face of the ridge above and behind the Drowned Fisherman.
Upon entering the Drowned Fisherman, the party was greeted by Tewar, the owner of the Drowned Fisherman with the same greeting question he bestows upon all night travellers “Flop, feed or both…?” Deciding to eat and rest here for the remainder of the night, the party sat down to a meal of delicious fish (the flathead from which the village takes its name). Looking abou them, the party saw a group of four other travellers at a table, all of them well dressed and apparently not staying for the night. At another table was a grimfaced man with his back to the wall and his sword and scabbard across his lap. Three other travellers were sleeping (flopped) along the wall to the right of the large fireplace. As the party finished their meal, they were approached by Astinus, the servant of Sir Porgin Pavonis, a scion of House Pavonis of Barsella. Recognizing them as would be adventurers, Sir Pavonis offered them 50 sp each to fetch a small (2′×2′×3′ ft) seachest from the ruins of a nearby seabeacon (lighthouse).
The party quickly agreed though all were tired and worn from the day’s travels. Gathering their gear and securing their two mounts under a small eave at the rear of the tavern, they set out from the village and quickly discovered an old, worn set of stairs leading up and out of the village.
On the seaside of the village there are crudely cut flights of broad (15’ ft wide) stone steps leading down the sea. Each flight is almost 45 ft in length and connects to the next via a 30 ft by 30 ft platform. The stone wharf at sea level (almost 60 feet below the level of Flathead) is partially set within a partially collapsed sea cave that is open on one side. Here the dwellers of Flathead keep their small fishing boats sheltered from the nearly constant rain and drizzle.
The party followed the old stone stairs up higher and higher until they reached the ruin of a square stone lighthouse (seabeacon). Entering through the strongly built wooden door at its base, they discovered that most of the upper levels, except for the topmost had collapsed over the years and the ground floor was covered in several feet (2-4 ft) of debris and rotting timbers. After spending almost two hours clearing the rubble by moving it outside and piling it up about 10 feet from the door, they discovered a rubble filled stone staircase leading downward. Working together they managed to have it cleared after an hour (1am) and followed it downward for some distance (150 ft) where it opened in a workshop/storeroom. Some 30 feet before the workroom, the rogue Khermit discovered a pair of collapsing stairs. The shaft dropped staright down for an unknown distance. This large (20′ × 30′ ft) room had all the tools and most of the materials needed to keep the seabeacon and tower in good repairs. A large stone workbench takes up the entire length of one wall. Careful examination of the room lead to the discovery of secret trapdoor beneath it (Search DC 25). The narrow shaft was a tight squeeze for all of the party save the rogue, but due to the hand and footholds worked into the side of the shaft all were able to descend safely down it, though its length (300 ft) took some time and was very tiring.
The shaft opened onto a short, narrow (5′×10′ ft) jetty at which a small, one cabin sloop had long ago come to rest partially on the bottom. Rohk and Kermit quickly discovered the deck of the sloop was partially rotted and very slick. Rohk retreated to the security of the jetty while Kermit explored the partially flooded cabin. As he did so, both noted faint tapping sounds in response to their footsteps on the deck.
Striking the deck with the butt of his spear, Rohk quickly discovered the source of the tapping… a large sea devil (squid). The creature immediately moved to attack the adventurers and so powerful was the beast that it nearly overcame them. Kermit, quickly assessing the situation, used the brief moments of distraction provided by the creature’s attack on Rohk to seize the small seachest from the debris floating in the cabin and withdraw. Rohk followed him and left the sea devil in its lair.
The rest of the party had begun their descent as well but after being apprised of the situation, all began to climb back up into the workroom.
There they were met with treachery has Sir Pavonis and his men had obviously followed them and set up a trap. As each emerged, they were quickly told at blade’s edge to sit quietly and wait. At first the party did this, but realizing quickly that Pavonis meant to rob them of the few coins promised as well as the contents of the seachest, they gathered their weapons and a brief but bloody struggle ensued.
Pavoni’s two hired sellswords were quickly killed and this caused Astinus to begin fleeing up the stairs as fast as he could while screaming out to his master, “Mi’lord, come quickly lest they slay us all…” Pavonis, seeing his plan in ruin, decided to flee as well, but had forgotten about the trapped stairs in the heat of battle. He fell to his death screaming.
The party bounded up the stairs in pursuit of Astinus but he was obviously gone when they reached the ground floor of the lighthouse.
Taking a moment to gather their wits and wind, they opened the seachest and found a finely made quill of silver and square shape wrapped in the rough, bumpy black hide of some unknown creature. Opening it, they discovered a finely bound book (8 inches by 2 ft by ft) and a strange, dark, three-sided dagger made of crystal. The blade was 9 inches long and its hilt was the spiraled shell of some sea creature (itself 5 inches in length).
Calliope cast a spell of detection and the quill radiated magic though the hide did not. Only after removing the book did she discover it also radiated magic while the dagger did not.
Attempting to read the book revealed it was warded with some form of magical spell that nearly caused Calliope to give into a magical compulsion.
Realizing they would not be paid by the now dead Porgin Pavonis and needing every coin they could muster, the group as a whole decided to explore the trapped stairs and see if they could recover Pavonis’ body. After some investigation they discovered it was a simple shaft with extremely smooth walls that dropped the unfortunate Pavonis into the sea cave where they had discovered the sunken sloop.
Preparing themselves for combat, Rohk entered the sunken sloop through a small opening underwater. Almost immediately he was set upon by the sea devil and though he fought bravely, was slain. The rest of his band, enraged by his death, slew the creature and recovered a few pieces of Pavonis’ equipment that had not been destroyed as the creature fed upon his body.
Returning to Flathead, the party placed Rohk’s body in the chapel for the night after receiving its caretaker’s permission and returned to the Drowned Fisherman for so much needed rest. Paying Tewar for another day’s accomdation, the party decided to rest through out the day. Sleeping through the day and waking in the evening the feed again on a meal of fish, soup, and bread. Cleaning their gear and noting the weather remained foul, they passed a quiet evening and went to sleep, ready to set out for Barsella in the morning.
However, only a few hours later, they were rudely awakened by a Shieldman of the Watch (sheriff) from Barsella and his deputies. Astinus, Pavonis’ servant had fled to Barsella and told his family that he (Porgin) had been murdered by adventurers. The Watch was notified and such was House Pavonis’ influence that a Shieldman had been dispatched to apprehend them.
However, Astinus’ plan quickly went wrong as the party immediately agreed to accompany the Shieldman back so long as one of his deputies would take Rohk’s body back to his family in Allain. Travelling quickly using a road that went through the Ghostlight forest, the group reached Barsella where Astinus demanded they be turned over to him so his dead master’s father could have his justice. But the Shieldman would not do this and instead summoned his superior, Magistrate Stronghand.
Casting a spell which detected any falsehoods, each member recounted their tale and were shown to be telling the truth. Astinus, however, attempted to bolt and was immediately apprehended and shackled. Given the late hour and knowing that House Pavonis would be satisfied with nothing less than the slow painful death of each member of the party, Stronghand prevailed upon them to stay in the gaolhouse and sleep in the cells. Initially reluctant to do so, the party decided it might be safer and did so.
Stronghand took them to a nearby inn the next morning and while they broke their fast told them of the grave danger they would be in if they remained in Barsella. While they were eating, Rohk’s brother Slayde showed up (having prevailed upon his rich parents to pay for magical transportation to Barsella) and joined them so that he might continue his brother’s quest.
After talking with Stronghand and then conferring amongst themselves, they decided to take him up on his generous offer of patronage. He arranged for the party to join the crew of a small merchant vessel that was leaving Barsella the very next day. His nephew was the purser onboard and quickly signed the group onto the ship’s company after his uncle had told him of their plight.
They each purchased a messkit, blanket, hammock and seachest and boarded the Zephyr’s Desire hours before it departed Barsella.