3.5 Knightfall's Tales of the Companions Story Hour [Kulan] (Last Update: Nov 25, 2018)

Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
The start of this story hour can be found here.


PROLOGUE: JOURNEY TO THE FALLENLANDS - PART II
The Ishtar limps along Harqual's coastline for several days. The damage done to the ship was extensive. Several times the ship comes dangerously close to sinking. Many of the dead are given a burial at sea, but Salisan insists on a proper grave for his first mate.

The reef giant captain believes they are somewhere south of the Jagged Peninsula, but he can not be sure. Then they finally find a safe anchoring point. The Ishtar comes in near the old quarries of Miners' Den. It's not ideal, but it is safe from the worst the sea has to throw at the ship and its crew.

Salisan orders for a marked grave for Calbrunnor. He will be just another one of the dead that were buried in this region in ages past. However, Salisan uses his great strength to lift and place a large rock to be his first mate's tombstone. Mesik does a fine job of carving the man's name on the stone and an honorific regarding his service on the Ishtar.

The heroes and crew stand around the grave for many moments of silence before Captain Marg barks out to the crew, “Now, let's get the Ishtar seaworthy again!”

The crew shouts a hurray and quickly gets to work making repairs.

From the Journal of Bactra Redwind, son of Minonus
“We've been anchored on the coast of Harqual in a region the crew calls the Miners' Den for over two weeks. Supposedly this region was where, in ages past, the kingdoms of the Eastern Shores came to quarry stone. The region is considered a no-man's-land, although it officially sits within the borders of the Kingdom of Stonn. The time spent here has been a blessing of the gods. Wounds, both physical and mental, have been given time to heal under Thessa's care. The men adore her like a matronly mother or a little sister. It's good that they are all human men, and that none of them consider her a romantic interest — Dvalin would likely go into a rage if that happened. He rarely leaves her side anymore.

Crystal has been both a boon and a bane. The men adore her too. But their interests are not pure. She's learned to wear less revealing outfits while on deck, although she flirts with a few of the more dashing sailors. One of them gave her a fancy sailor's hat to wear and I have to admit, my cousin is quite the beauty in it. Dabuk is less protective of her than he used to be. She stood spell to spell versus the Foulsoul and won. Impressive!

Spirits have been kept high by friend Jeddar's skill as a bard. I don't know what we would have done without him. My cousin, Dabuk has spent most of his time talking strategy tactics and survival skills with Salisan. Rikin has been acting as the ship's third-in-command behind Salisan's new first mate, Jansen. Jansen came aboard the Ishtar as the ship's cook. However, many experienced sailors died during the attack by the Black Death and Jansen became the best choice to replace Calbrunnor due to his years of experience. Mesik has been doing a fair job as the new cook, although the men are getting tired of root and rabbit stew. I think its delicious and a good change from nothing but fish and potatoes.

Hougwarth has been his usual self, much to the chagrin of everyone else. He tries. He really does, but he just can't seem to get over his clumsiness. Yes, his strength is useful, but we keep him away from the tools and the breakables. He spends most of his time trading jokes with Jeddar, which the crew seems to like. The men don't hate or fear Hugh; he's too funny, even if I isn't always intentional.

I spend most of my time reading, keeping an eye on Teal, or talking with Nanesa. The men have learned to stay away from my sister! I have made it very clear to them that she is off limits. Dabuk still dislikes having her on board and tried to convince me to force her to go home to the Knotwood. I wasn't about to send her by herself, and I didn't want to try to get her there myself without her running away. She spends most of her time on land, which means I spend most of my time shadowing her. Nanesa has been keeping me company, which has been a joy. Her first foray onto land was frightening for her. Tritons normally cannot survive on land, but her duel heritage gives her the ability to breath air and walk on land. Still, she gets tired easily. It's a good excuse to force my sister back onto the ship. She's fond of Nanesa too. The two of them spend a lot of time together alone in the wardroom.

It has been an interesting time here, and when we come back from the Fallenlands, I'm going to have to do more research about this region. The ship is nearly done. The men are getting everything in order for us to set sail. Spot and I have taken this time to visit the beach one more time. Spot is my opossum familiar. Teal is sitting a few feet away chatting with Nanesa. They have been talking, laughing and whispering to each other for the last hour.

It's good that my sister has a friend.”
 
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Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
I've decided to create a new thread in order to hopefully refesh this story hour. Plus, it was pissing me off that I couldn't truly edit the first post of the old thread. -KF
 
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Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
The first day back out to sea:

The ship's archers nervously watch the giant birds circle the ship. Salisan orders the men not to fire on them until he can descern whether or not they are hostile.

“What do you think, Thessa?”

“Giant eagles. They look hungry. But I've never known them to attack ships at sea. They would have to be starving,” she replies.

“Sir!” Jansen yells. “The men won't stand for another attack so soon. You should give the order to fire.”

“No!” Dabuk yells. “These are animals, not monsters.”

“I've seen them shapechange. Don't tell me they're not monstrous.” Jansen counters.

“So am I.” Salisan retorts. “Yet, you accept me.”

“Dabuk, if they're as hungry as they look...” Thessa tries to calm the ranger.

“We watch them, but no one fires unless they attack.”

The crew watches nervously as the 3 large birds wing overhead for more than ten minutes. A loud shriek pierces the sky and two more eagles appear in the sky. They come straight at the ship. They look gaunt.

The other three dive down to block the other eagles' path. The protective swoop frightens one of the sailors to the core. His bravery fails, and he opens fire.”

“No! Wait!” Dabuk yells.

“Too late,” Jansen replies. “Fire! Fire until your quivers are empty!”

“You will not fire!” Salisan roars.

The archers aren't sure what to do. Several let loose with arrows just as a reflex but most of the shots are so low they just go into the sea. Two arrows sink into one of the attacking eagles and it shrieks as it falls into the sea. The other attacker swoops down and grasps two sailors in its talons as it flies by. The men scream in terror as the bird wings away.

More shots, better aimed, follow it. The bird is too fast. One of the other eagles races after the attack and tries to force it to drop its meal. The deranged attacker shrieks angrily, as the other bird forces it to swoop back towards the ship. The two birds pass overhead and the defender tries to use its talons to pry the men free.

“By the gods, they're going to tear those men apart fighting over them,” Jansen yells. “Captain, you have to order the men to fire!”

Several men fire even without Salisan's order. One of the arrows sinks into the chest of a grasped sailor. The other arrow hits the wing of the defending bird.

“Stop firing, damn you all,” Salisan roars. “Or I'll toss you all in the sea.”

The eagle defending the men squawks in indignation and tries to level off. It comes crashing down over the stern. The ship rocks and shakes. The bird is balanced precariously on the back of the ship; it's wings caught in the rigging. The other eagle wings away with its prizes, now bloody.

“Sir! We have to get it off! It will sink us!” Jansen pleads.

“You are relieved, Master Jansen,” Salisan orders.

The man turns stark white. “B-but, sir.”

“You are relieved! Go help Mesik in the galley! It's what you're good at!”

“We have to help it,” Thessa pleads.

“Yes, little miss, but I think we should let Dabuk lead the way on this one.”

Dabuk was already beside it. He was speaking to it in soothing tones and brushing it's feathers. Jeddar cut away the lines from its wings while singing a lulling tune. Bactra came up next to Dabuk and looked at his cousin with concern. Dabuk was staying calm and looked at Bactra with a wink and a smile.

“It will be okay,” he was saying it more to the eagle than to Bactra. “I won't let anything happen.”

The three of them soon had it untangled and calm. The bird was able to fold in its good wing. This helped keep the ship from rolling over. Thessa eased up by the eagle and cast a minor healing spell to help stabilize the bird.

“It's so frail looking,” she notes.

“It hasn't eaten in months. I'm surprised it didn't attack us outright. It's a good thing eagles have some morality.”

“Unlike our new First Mate,” Bactra mused.

“He's a ass,” Dabuk said with a smile and clenched teeth.

Salisan watched the elves and little gnome tend to the eagle. He, as quietly as he could, ordered the men to stand down and get to work fixing the sails.

“But stay away from it, if you can.”

The captain of The Ishtar moved towards the bow with hopes of balancing out the weight. He used his magical gauntlets to find the right size to grow too. Once he was sure that the ship wouldn't sink, he checked on Dabuk's progress. The ranger had the bird completely calmed down, and the bard was still singing to it. Bactra was talking to it as if it was a normal person and feeding it some meat that Mesik had brought from the galley.

“Elves,” Salisan chuckled. “How would the world ever get by without them.”
 

Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
Eagle healed; Tales in the Storm:

The Ishtar spent another two full days anchored off the coast to repair rigging and deal with the giant bird being on board. Somehow, in the middle of the night, the bird managed to find its way to shore. How it did so remained a mystery and even Dabuk was in the dark.

He refused to leave it until it could fend for itself. And if anyone else besides Dabuk, Bactra, Jeddar, and Thessa tried to go near it, it would flap its good wing and screech loudly. The bird scared off several fishermen that came to investigate. The Ishtar was moored near the Strandlands. The region wasn't know for its hospitality to outsiders, which worried Salisan.

Tyche was on their side, however. The bird healed quick. Unnaturally quick. Dabuk watches happily as it wings away to the northwest. Salisan noted that Thessa was quite sad to see the beast go.

“She was so nice,” the little gnome sniffled.

“Yes,” Bactra nodded. “I would have liked to get to know her better.

“We need to go,” Dabuk said. Without another word, he headed back to the ship.

“Here we go again,” Bactra sighed. “He's going to be in a mood until this quest is done.”

“He's right.” Salisan noted with a smile. “Time again for the sea.”

The Ishtar soon left the Strandlands behind heading south along the Branded Coast. The port town of Farva was close, and the crew needed some shore leave even though the ship traveled only a short distance. The ship had passed from the colder waters of the Sea of the Sun into the warmer waters of the Karmine Sea.

“We could anchor off Nesin island,” Salisan suggested. “The forested interior can be dangerous but if we stick to the shorelines, we should be fine. Farva would be a good choice too. The men could use some levity.”

“This sea is your home, Sal.” Dabuk replied. “We'll go where you think best.”

“To Farva!” Salisan yelled to the crew. They cheered back in unison.

The Ishtar doesn't make it to Farva. A storm blows in from the south catching the little ship in a gale. The crew barely manages to get the ship anchored off the coast next to a small island that Salisan calls Little Strand.

“It's named for the keep that sits on its central hill. The keep was once a king's fortress in the early days of the Thunder Lands. Traditionally, the keep belongs to the ruler of the Strandlands, but now it is controlled, somewhat, by the ruler of Yuln, a city that sits inland on the shores of Lake Ana. In truth, the keep is constantly being fought over. The human's consider it important and the denizens of Nesin consider it a threat.

“Who lives on Nesin?” Bactra asked.

“There are some humanoids, goblins most likely, and even more dangerous creatures. An old city is said to stand at its heart. It's not ancient. But it might be from near the end of the Black Wars, as you land-dwellers called that time period.”

“We should check it out,” Bactra mused.

“Some other time,” Dabuk grumbled. He wasn't pleased about the delays. The ship was being tossed by the storm outside and it would need to be repaired once again. Resources were running low. “We need to worry about the ship and the crew.”

“Actually, the forest on the island could provide for both and without the costs we would have to pay in Farva. Lady Luck doesn't seem to want us to go there.”

Several crew members nodded in agreement. They were a suspicious lot. The storm had surprised them and they took it as a sign from the gods that Farva was the wrong choice for this journey.

“We could anchor off of a isolated cove I know,” Salisan suggested. “There is good foodstuffs growing in the forest. It will be a nice change. The fishing is good there too.”

“Fine,” Dabuk sighed. “And we'll take some time to look for this city you mentioned, but its only a scouting mission.” He looked at Bactra. “No, delving into the place. We find the location. Make a note of it. And come back to it at a later date. Agreed?”

“Agreed.” Bactra replied with a gleaming eye.

* * *
 
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Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
Half-Wrecked:

The storm reeked havoc on The Ishtar. The rigging was half ruined and the ship was soon leaking. Before the gale broke, Salisan made the decision to ride out the waves to Nesin rather than wait. The ship would have sunk off of Little Strand if they had waited. The ship barely made to Nesin's sandy shoreline. It would never have made it to Farva.

“She's a mess,” Salisan sighed. “This is going to take a while.”

He and the heroes looked at the damage from the shore. The ship was beached and there wasn't any guarantee that she would be seaworthy within a week. Salisan's cove was twenty miles from where they had been aiming. There were good trees for timber but food was less plentiful and the forest was more dangerous.

“This isn't going to be easy, captain,” Jansen remarked. “The hulls been breached in several places and the rigging is half gone.”

Dabuk tried not to glower at Jansen. The man was a pain, but he'd held his own in the storm. Without his skill, the ship would have gone down.

“We will fix it,” Thessa smiled at the first mate and his resolve melted. He showed her great respect, for some reason, and when she spoke, he listened. It was uncanny how she could be any person's matron with only a few kind words.

“You're right,” Jansen rubbed his chin. “It's fixable, but it will take time.”

“Aye,” Salisan agreed. “And we start now.”

The giant activated his magical armbands and grew to his full size. He strode into the forest and uprooted several trees. He soon had half a dozen logs ready for cutting. He roared to the sky and the men cheered. He then went back to the edge of the forest and dropped to his knees. He called out a prayer to the forest's guardian spirit for forgiveness for having to uproot 'such great beings as these but our need is great'. He swore to the spirits that he would kneel and pray the entire time that the ship was being repaired and that he would return each year to pray on this spot to honor the fallen trees.

“You understand nature,” Thessa remarked to him as he knelt there before the forest. “More than any giant I've ever encountered.”

“Pray with me little miss,” he sighed. “For the trees.”

She did. They did. Bactra did as well. Even a few of the crew did, as the work on The Ishtar continued on overnight and into the next day.

* * *

“We've found some berries but little else,” Mesik noted. Dabuk and he were going over the ship's stores while the work continued. “However, the fishing here hasn't been good. The ship is going to need more and the men are dead set against going anywhere near Farva. They believe Aegir is angry at us for some reason.”

“Never heard of him,” Dabuk replied. “Are they really willing to starve to put off the wrath of some old sea god that likely doesn't even know we exist?”

“We live in a world of gods and their children, Dabuk. Never forget that.”

“So, if not Farva, then where?”

“Salisan mentioned another port. A city called Selquin. It's southwest of here along the coast. Supposedly we missed it when we traveled down to the south.”

“How did we miss an entire city?”

“Sal says its new, well, it used to be a town, so its not completely new. There was a boom of some sort. But it's tariffs are really high. Sal says it might break our budget to restock there.”

“So we have to go through the forest to the cove. It's risky.”

“Actually, I was thinking we'd take the launch down the edge of the shore. We could land there, restock, and row back with as much as it can carry. Of course, if the repairs go well, The Ishtar could meet us there.”

“Still risky, but I agree. It's the best choice. Who do we take?”

“You and me. The others would likely just get in the way.”

“Thessa would be useful, but there is no way she's leaving Salisan's side, which mean that Dvalin isn't going anywhere either. Bactra might insist on going and trying to find that blasted city Salisan mentioned.”

“He's too busy cataloging plants in his journal. No, he won't want to sail in that boat. And Jeddar is needed here to keep up the crew's spirit. Hmm, Nanesa might be a great help with the fishing.”

“She's become to close to Crystal and Teal. I will not have all three of them coming with us. If Teal tries to come, Bactra will insist on watching her. No, I think you're right. It has to be me and you and no one else.”

* * *

The journey up the coast in the launch was uneventful. Everything after that was a huge challenge. There was lots of fish but neither of them caught more than what could get them through each night. The food in the region was either out of season or really green. They found some coconut trees, which would go a long way, but the crew would want hardier fare.

They caught a few crabs in a net but the smell of them made Mesik sick. They had to let them go to keep the halfling from retching. Dabuk was ready to give up when he heard Mesik whoop in victory while scouting for more food inland. The halfling strode back into their makeshift camp dragging a huge branch filled with a greenish-yellow fruit neither of them recognized.

“They could be poisonous,” Dabuk warned.

“I already ate one,” Mesik replied. “I'm fine.”

“Only one,” Dabuk smirked.

“Okay, four.”

They both laughed. Dabuk tried one of the fruits. Pealing it was easy.

“This is really good.”

“There is a whole tree of them and bet there are more. This one had fell down on the ground, but I'm sure we can get more of them if we work together.”

The two friends stowed the fruit in the launch and headed off into the forest for more of the tasty fruit. What they found instead was blood and fear.

* * *
 

Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
Spears in the Trees:

“Damn, we have no luck,” Mesik mumbles as he runs flat out towards the beach.

Dabuk runs next to him with his bow drawn. Every 10th step, the half-elven ranger stops, turns, and fires a shot back through the trees towards the orc chasing them. Mesik simply keeps running as fast as his shorter legs can carry him. Dabuk soon outpaces him before he stops and shoots again. A spear flies over Mesik's head, as he darts over a fallen log and ducks his head down. Two more spears slam into the log as he and his friend rush towards the beachhead where they left the launch.

The foray into the forest for more food had gone well, at first. They had found bananas, figs, and an assortment of nuts and berries. Dabuk had shot a long-tailed hare that the ranger caught unaware. Mesik even managed to catch a couple of small fish before they had headed into the trees in order to try to find larger game. While flushing out a russet deer with garish antlers, they had come face to face with two painted orcs carrying spears. The orcs had been as surprised as they had been. Dabuk managed to wound one of them before the orc man could lift and throw his spear. A second shot put the the orc down while the other just missed Mesik with a spear toss.

Then the second orc turned and ran. The two of them chased after the orc. They would have quickly outpaced the orc savage, if the orc hadn't reached his companions on a low hill. There were over a dozen of them that the duo could see. Dabuk had looked at Mesik and the two had decided there were too many of them. They started to run away just as the orcs rushed towards them. The hooting they made as they chased them caused a shiver to run down Mesik's spine.

“Almost there,” Dabuk says as he stops and shoots again. He manages to skewer one in the forehead. “Another one down.”

“And only a whole bunch to go,” Mesik pants. He glances back to see how close the orcs are. There had been way more than a dozen. The orcs on the hill had been part of a large warband. Over three dozen orcs are trying to make Dabuk and Mesik their next meal.

“Just get into the boat!” Dabuk yells.

Mesik grabs a small bundle he'd left by the fire Dabuk built on the beach before they had headed inland and rushes towards the launch, which is tied to a massive piece of driftwood siting on the shore. The launch sits half on the sand. Mesik deftly cuts the rope holding the boat and hops up into it and grabs the two oars. Dabuk fires three more shots and kills two more orcs. A longspear nearly takes the ranger's head off. Dabuk rushes to the launch and pushes it back into the sea with all his strength. Mesik helps him up into the boat just as a spear digs into the plank seat where Mesik had been sitting a moment before.

“That would have hurt!” Mesik says with a feign laugh.

“Use your sling,” Dabuk barks as he gathers up the rows and begins heading for deeper water.

Mesik notes that several of the orcs dive into the water to come after them. He readies his sling and digs for his stones. It takes forever for him to realize they are in a bag in the bottom of the launch.

“Mes!”

An orc gets a hand on the boat and pulls himself up to try to reach Dabuk and pull the elf into the water. Mesik swings the bag of stones and it connects with the orc's head. The ugly humanoid loses its grip and falls back into the water. Another orc grabs at the oar on the other side of the launch. Dabuk pulls it back and then rams it into the orc's head just as another spear flies over the ranger's head. Mesik loads his sling and steps to the bow of the boat as Dabuk begins rowing away in reverse. The halfling rogue swings it over his head four times before letting a rock fly out over the water towards a swimming orc. It hits the savage on the ass and it grabs its rump and yelps.

The two adventurers laugh.

They each take one of the oars and row together – Dabuk sitting down and Mesik standing. They manage to row the launch out of range of the orcs' spears and head to deeper water before turning to head back towards The Ishtar.

* * *

“We have to go,” Dabuk insists. “Somehow.”

“Impossible,” Salisan Marg replies. “She's not even close to being seaworthy.”

Dabuk and Mesik had arrived back at the ship to see that repairs on The Ishtar had begun. A few of the smaller holes had been patched but rigging was still a mess. The duo quickly informed their friends about the orcs and that the savages would soon find them. The sailors quickly began to panic before Salisan calmed them down.

“How many are there?” Bactra asks.

“Too many,” Mesik replies.

“More than two dozen, maybe three,” Dabuk adds. “We can't stay here any longer.” He looks at his cousin and then at the gnome priestess, Thessa. “Can either of you cast magic that will make this go faster?”

“I've already cast several mending spells,” Bactra replies. “But it only helped fix several large tears in the sail. And I won't be able to cast more again until tomorrow.”

“I had planned to pray for a new spell at dawn tomorrow that would allow me to help fix some of the damaged wood,” Thessa adds. “Other than that, I don't have anything that could help fix it more now.”

“If there is an orc war party out there,” Salisan notes, as he motions towards the trees. “We should be preparing for the attack to come. It just isn't possible to put The Ishtar back out to sea. It will sink in minutes.”

“Damn,” Dabuk curses. “I don't think we hold them off, even with you help, Sal.”

“Don't be so sure,” Salisan replies. “Orc savages tend to be quite superstitious. If I can surprise them with my size, they might retreat and seek guidance from a shaman.”

The sound of drums rise into the air from somewhere deep in the dense forest of the small island. The sound grows and grows.

“By the gods, we're doomed,” one of the sailors says.

* * *
 
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Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
Salisan vs. the Warband:

It doesn't take long for the orc warband to appear just inside the treeline of the forest. Salisan and the sailors set up a perimeter of broken pieces of wood from the ship and sharpened logs. The wood juts up from the sand and some of the ruined netting is slung throughout to hopefully entangle thrown spears and any foes that charge towards the ship. Salisan hides his size from the orcs by staying shrunk down thanks to his magical bracers. He is still an imposing figure, nonetheless. The sailors places themselves in strategic places, with Dabuk's guidance, in order to set up a kill zone. Many of them ready themselves on the bow of the ship, which is sunk deep into the sand and held vertical by a dozen of the trees rooted up by Salisan.

The orcs take note of the places where trees once stood and that something massive had torn them from the ground. This causes them to hold back, which is a relief to The Ishtar's crew. The bulk of the orc warband fade back into the dense foliage of the subtropical forest. The warm air grows hot and humid, as a storm brushes the island. Repairs on the ship continue, as half-a-dozen orc scouts watch from the safety of the trees. Dabuk thinks about challenging them but Salisan warns him off.

“It's a good thing my father isn't here,” Dabuk replies. “He'd charge them the way I'd charge ogres.”

“So, it's also a good thing they're not ogres,” Salisan muses.

“Aye,” Dvalin agrees. “He'd have charged up that hill if it had been an ogre wary party.”

“Even I'm not that stupid,” Dabuk snaps. He glares at the dwarf and then sighs when he realizes that Dvalin was trying to get a rise out of him. “Then again...”

“Keep your voices down,” Salisan urges. “We don't want them to get a sense of what we're feeling. They may be savages, but they're not going to be completely ignorant.”

The talking stops and everyone tries to distract themselves from what will eventually come. Day quickly turns to dusk and the repairs slow to a stop. The orcs were waiting for an advantage, it seems. The drums resound again. This time a lot closer. Dozens of figures appear at the edge of the treeline. Two dozen quickly becomes four dozen.

“We are so screwed,” Mesik whispers to Dvalin. The dwarf nods his head and grips his axe tighter.

“Now,” Dabuk whispers to Salisan.

“Not quite yet,” the giant replies as lowly as he can. “I want to make sure I can see the leader.” Salisan had insisted on keeping the torchlight at a minimum so that his night-vision isn't ruined. The low-light also helps all but Mesik and the humans.

“I can't see a damn thing,” Mesik whispers.

“There he is,” Salisan notes. A larger-than-life orc man steps forward out of the tree line and raises his fists into the air and howls. He stands nearly seven feet tall. The orcs behind howl is response.

“That's one big ass orc,” the dwarf fighter says.

“Dvalin, that's not an orc,” Salisan replies. “That's an orog.”

“Oh crap.”

“Now,” Dabuk insists.

“Aye,” Salisan strides forward past the makeshift barrier and yells in defiance. He waits until the orog strides forward before he clangs his magical bracers together and undoes the magic holding him in his smaller form. He grows to his full height and bellows down at the orog coming towards him. He gathers up a large rock placed strategically and hurls it towards the orog. The big orc eats sand rather than get squished. The rock hits the earth behind the orc and spays shards of stone and clouds of sand into the eyes of the orcs that had just stepped out from the treeline. The drum beats stop and the beach goes deathly silent. Even the night-birds stop singing.

The bulk of the orc horde hoot in fear before running away as fast as their legs can take them. The few braver savages look to see what their leader is going to do. Salisan sees the look on the orog's face. He isn't afraid like the others, but he is worried. The huge reef giant roars at him again and motions to pick up another rock. The orog's eyes go wide, and he gets up and dashes for the cover of the trees. The other orcs disappear as well. The sailors cheer as Salisan lets out a massive mocking laugh. He waits until he's sure the orcs are gone before using the bracers again to shrink back down to 'shipbound' size.

“That will keep them at bay for a while, but they'll be back,” he says. “You all should get as much rest as you can. I will take first watch.”

“I will watch with you,” Dabuk notes.

“Nay, you've had a busy day,” Salisan orders. “Rest and prepare for their return. Dvalin, I would appreciate your eyes in the dark.”

“Aye,” the dwarf agrees.

Dabuk nods in resignation and Bactra is soon helping his cousin up onto the ship. The half-elf ranger sleeps while the elf wizard meditates. The others sleep as best they can. The drums stay silent until an hour before the dawn.

* * *
 
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Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
Sail or Die:

“They aren't going to be intimidated again, Sal,” Dabuk insists. “We need to quickly patch the worst of it and get out of here.”

The war-drums rumble past the dawn and just as the sun rises, thunderclouds appear in the distance. Salisan quickly discerned that the storm would hit the island before noon. If the Ishtar was still on the shoreline, she'd likely be tossed over the beach and into the trees. There was no protection from the storm.

“She'll sink in less than an hour!”

“All we have to do is get moored somewhere the storm won't destroy it and where the orcs can't reach us,” Dabuk argues.

“Sal, I hate to say it, but Dabuk is right,” Dvalin encourages. “The orcs are coming now. If we have to fight them and the storm, we'll all die.”

The reef giant looks at the darkening sky and sighs. “Maybe the crew is right. Maybe Lord Aegir is angry with me for some reason. But why?”

“Worry about it, if we sink,” Dabuk inisists. He looks towards the treeline where he can see several orc scouts watching them intently. There hasn't been any sign of the orog.

“Very well,” he replies. He looks at his crew rushing through repairs. Most of them had worked through the night and were nearing exhaustion. He shouts out orders to fix the worst of it and ready the ship to sail. The crew rushes even harder and Dabuk and the others join in the effort. Hougwarth helps in the best way he can. He stands at attention and watches the orcs at the treeline. The large elfin giant is imposing when he's not trying to be fancy. Thessa's spell seals a large hole at the prow, and Bactra's mendings help get the main sail ready for use.

“They are leaving,” Hougwarth warns the others, as the orcs fade away. “They are likely getting the others.”

“Houg, get ready to help me push the ship out to sea,” Salisan orders.

“Aye sir,” the vonakyndra replies. Soon the two giants are heaving the Ishtar off the beach and out into the waters of the sea. The storm closes in and the waves become choppy. Salisan grows to his full height and lifts the vonakyndra onto the ship.

“Here they come!” Jeddar yells on the bow.

The savage orcs rush onto the beach just as Salisan turns to yell at them. None of the orcs pause this time. They rush headlong towards the reef giant and the floundering ship. The sails go up and the wind pulls the ship along the edge of the shore. The orog appears almost out of nowhere, riding a massive hunting cat nearly as long as Hougwarth is tall. He yells a challenge to Salisan. The massive reef giant answers with a thrown rock that squishes four orcs next to the orog's mount.

“Sal, get on board!” Dabuk shouts.

“I will meet you out at sea! Go!”

“Captain, we won't leave you behind!” Jansen yells.

“Go! That's an order!” Salisan tosses two more rocks while wading in the surf. One misses the mark while the other crushes another orc.

“Damn you!” Thessa yells. “You get on this ship right now, Salisan Marg! We are not going anywhere without you!”

Salisan looks towards the ship in disbelief. The minuscule gnome priestess stands on the edge of the ship's prow and stares at him defiantly as Dvalin holds onto her from behind. The huge reef giant can't help but laugh, which makes the orcs pause in bewilderment. It is all he needs to quickly turn and dive into the waters and come up under the ship. He helps guide the Ishtar away from Nesin and out into the open sea. The orcs howl in frustration on the beach and the orog glares at the ship from his mount on a large rock standing next to the surf.

Then the storm hits the island.

* * *

“We are so dead!” Mesik screams as he clings to the handrail of the stairs leading down into the ship's galley. The Ishtar sways heavily as the storm rages outside. They had managed to miss the worst of it, but the ship was close to capsizing.

“Shut up and get down here and help us patch this damn hole!” Dvalin shouts at the halfling rogue.

The dwarf holds a huge wooden plank up to try to keep water from flowing in while Dabuk and his half-sister, Crystal, work to drive nails through the wood and into the ship's hull. Mesik is tossed from his perch and is soon under three feet of water. He comes up gurgling. He swims towards his friends and does his best to help Dvalin hold the plank in place. He holds the bottom half while Dvalin holds the top half. Amazingly, they manage to keep it in place long enough for Dabuk and Crystal to hammer it in place. The water drops to a trickle and then stops once Dvalin uses some makeshift faux-tar to seal the leaks.

“By Hades' beard, that was close,” Mesik rasps.

“Please don't mention his name right now,” Dabuk snaps. “We don't need Death taking notice of us.”

“Okay, okay,” Mesik replies. The ship lurches again and all of them are soon spitting out seawater.

“Boulder's bugger!” Dvalin curses. “Why did I ever agree to leave the safety of the shore?”

“We could drop you off back on Nesin, if you'd prefer,” Dabuk taunts.

“No thank you,” Dvalin replies with a laugh. “I'd rather drown than be eaten by orcs.”

They all laugh.

* * *

“There!” Salisan points towards a tiny speck barely visible through the wind and rain. The ship was just on the edge of the storm and almost ready to sink. “It's an island.”

“Captain, that's not an island. That's barely a cay,” Jansen argues.

“It's better than you and the rest of the crew drowning,” the reef giant replies.

“Just.”

* * *

In his room, Bactra turns several greenish hues. 'I'll never eat fish again', he thinks. The ship heaves and so does he.

* * *

“Oh yes!” Teal gasps. She writhes as the ship rolls and moans. “Was that you or the ship!”

“I'll never tell,” Nanesa coos at her.

The ship rises and falls dozens of times as the two of them remain entwined together until the Ishtar lands on the tiny cay with a thump that tosses the two of them askew into an erotic heap of arms and legs.

“You're a genius,” Teal moans.

“That wasn't me,” Nansea laughs.

* * *
 

Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
"I'm planning on getting back into writing this story hour, but from here on, I'm going to assume the campaign used 3E rules instead of 2E rules. Trying to write it while sticking to 2E spell and weapon concepts is driving me batty. I'm hoping everything will flow better." -RPB
 

Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
The Ishtar Saves the Day?

It takes nearly two weeks for the ship to become truly seaworthy again. The cay has just enough trees to make repairs of the worst damage, but The Ishtar will need considerable work to be able to make the planned journey to the Isle of Dread. Salisan tells his companions that the ship could need a month of refits just to be able to make it to the lands of the Far South.

“You might need to consider holding off for this season,” Salisan tells Dabuk as they stand on the prow of the ship. “I know you don't want to hear that but I can't guarantee we will be able to get this ship there in one piece and then back again.”

Dabuk sighs. He knows this Ogrebane obsession of his might get them all killed. He had hoped that finding a way to these fabled Fallenlands would go smoother. Could one weapon really be worth risking all their lives? He looks at his cousins and his sister. Bactra and Teal continued to argue about her place on the ship, and her spending too much time around the sailors. He watches as Bactra insists she spend more time with Nansea and less time on deck. He also notes the look on Teal's face and shakes his head. Bactra didn't see it or wouldn't. Teal pretends to relent with anger and storms off to Nansea's room.

“We have to make this work, Sal,” Dabuk replies. “This trip is changing us all, and it can't be for nothing.”

“Sir!” A sailor yells from the crows nest. “There's ships on the horizon!”

“Are they heading towards us?” Salisan asks.

“I don't think so, sir, but I can't be certain.”

“How many, Mr. Jibbs?”

“I count at least two, no, wait,” the man scans the waters ahead. “There's at least five of them, sir.”

Salisan pulls out his spyglass and looks toward the man is pointing. He clearly sees two ships running for the coast. The other ships are pursuing. There are four of them and their masts stand out in the waters. The lead pursing ship flies a black flag, and Salisan is sure the others with it will show the same colors.

“Damn it,” Salisan says quietly. Only Dabuk hears him, “We don't need this right now.”

“Pirates, right?”

“Yes.”

“Of course, like out luck isn't already bad,” the ranger says. “Do we really have to get involved?”

“If we don't help, The Ishtar could be branded a pirate ship itself,” Salisan replies. He raises his voice so the crew can hear. “Pirates attacking ahead! Prepare to help fend them off and repel boarders!”

The crew rushes to do their captain's bidding while Dabuk and the others set themselves for the battle ahead.

* * *
 

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