23 Zarantyr, 964 YK
With the War waging across Khorvaire, the group first arrives at Havar Manor in Skairn, a small town on the mainland shore of the Lhazaar Principalities. Once the home of a wealthy baron, Havar Manor had fallen on hard times and, like much of Lhazaar, had gone through so many owners and occupants over the years that most had lost track of its ownership.
Indeed, the group arrived to discover a dusty, cobwebbed hall, pockmarked with crumbled masonry and cracks in the flooring. Along the walls and the remains of the balcony, at least a dozen wooden crates were stacked.
Before the group was able to do much beyond get a sense of their surroundings, one of the two upper doors opened, and a rumpled, graying man entered the room. Introducing himself as Tsunami, he pulled a glowing orb out of his hand and requested the group prepare for a brief test of their proficiency. Within moments, six homunculii of various shapes burst from some of the boxes, and the battle ensued.
The victory was swift, and the group seemed to meld well enough on the field. It seemed to suit Tsunami well enough, at least, as he descended the stairs, produced a map, and laid out the mission.
Project Aboleth was a secret naval weapon being produced by House Lyrandar. What it was, and where its production was occurring, was unknown, although it was believed that they were using technology or plans stolen from House Cannith or Zilargo, and it was also known that this weapon would be sold to the highest bidder.
Tsunami represented the nation of Cyre, who had lost the most territory so far in the War. Believing that their enemies would jump at the chance to use Aboleth to blockade what shores they had remaining, Cyre has decided to take the desperate measure of sending a group to infiltrate and destroy Project Aboleth at its source.
The group is to sail north to Turnabout Island, where House Tharashk‘s laborers are mining Khyber dragonshards for the project. There they are to meet Dorn, a half-orc artificer with Cyran sympathies. Together, they are to stop the mining operation and commandeer Lyrandar’s elemental galleon. From there, they are to find the shipyard being used for Aboleth and destroy it, stealing the original plans and bringing them to Cannith’s base of operations in Eston.
Upon further pressing, each member discovers their reason for being a part of the mission:
- Berien Collier, human wizard, was not specifically asked to come aboard by Tsunami, but by Tyrean d’Cannith, Berien’s mentor and a past associate of Tsunami. He is to be Cannith’s unofficial representative, as well as a skilled wizard with past experience in artifice and wilderness survival.
- Cirie, elven ranger, is a member of a well-respected family of rangers. Turnabout Island is still mostly uncharted, and the way from Aboleth’s location to Eston still unknown, her skills would undoubtedly come in handy to forge a path.
- Daphne Bologna, or so she claims, is a changeling cleric with obvious abilities for subterfuge and infiltration. Above and beyond her shapeshifting abilities, she is a trained thief and healer.
- Kairon, tiefling warlock, an intimidating presence, sure to be a help in the project’s destruction. He makes things go boom.
- Morgaine Boushant, half-elf avenger, was personally recommended by Prince Koulton Brightwind, whose Wind Whisperers would be assisting in the mission. Raised by a sailing family in Lhazaar, her ship-handling skills, as well as her Mark of Storm, would be pivotal in getting the stolen galleon from Turnabout to the Whisperers’ base at Windlost Island, and beyond to Project Aboleth’s central base.
- The warforged known only as XVIII was added to the party at the request of Cannith. Few know anything about “him”, and he seems to know even less. But he wields a mighty hammer, and even the single encounter with the constructs showed he is a natural “born” leader.
After receiving six 100gp gems as their first payment, the group departed Havar Manor. After a brief shopping trip, with Berien picking up a few key rituals for the cold journey, they arrived at the dock and the Samantha June. There they were introduced to its captain, Oolanda Songsteel, as well as another group of adventurers.
Morgaine quickly joined the crew in preparing the ship for sail, showing off her skills to party and captain alike. She was quickly interrupted, however, by Fargrim Anvilbreaker, leader of the Audacity. A loud braggart, he quickly told her of their group’s plan: to sail to Orthoss Island and capture Prince Brightwind, collecting on the reward placed by Lyrandar.
Believing their ally was in danger, Morgaine and the party concocted a plan to get more information. Assuming the shape of the Audacity’s eladrin bard, Daphne isolated Fargrim and, after some confusing conversation, learned that they had been pointed to Orthoss by Tsunami himself.
Meanwhile, Oolanda approached Morgaine and, after some brief conversation, cleared up the situation: Tsunami was pointing the Audacity towards Orthoss merely to provide cover for the group’s actions. Brightwind remained on Windlost, where the group was to still meet him after their job on Turnabout was complete.
Daphne, not knowing this news, escaped Fargrim’s clutches, quickly realizing that Fargrim and the bard were in a relationship. Either that, or Fargrim took her desire to speak to him alone as an advance. In either case, she quickly left the scene, aghast at learning that it was all for nothing.
Two nights passed. On the evening of the 25th, the group was roused by Oolanda and her crew and lowered into the ocean on rowboats. To their surprise, Kairon did not accompany them. Undaunted, they rowed through the darkness to the western shore of Turnabout. Scuttling their boat, they proceeded east through the snowy forest.
After three or four hours they discovered the weathered remains of an expedition camp, along with a torn journal page. Written fifteen years previous and protected from the elements by House Sivis enchantment, the journal discussed an attempt by Sivis and Karrnath to forge a treaty with a young dragon named Szartharrax. It also briefly mentioned a young boy named Zatz, who joined his mother on the expedition.
Finding nothing else of note, the group continued on. Soon after, however, they began to hear a rhythmic thumping in the distance. As time passed, it started to grow nearer, and to originate from multiple directions. Night, however, soon came, and the group could do nothing other than rest.
And that’s when they struck. Six yeti, possibly allies of the dragon, burst through the bush and attacked the camp. Along with them, however, came a feral-looking gnome wielding a giant hammer. As the group fought the yetis, the boy held his own against one before slipping into Morgaine’s tent and rough-handling her equipment.
After the battle, Morgaine and the others attempted to communicate with the boy. They discovered that his name was Zatz, likely the same boy mentioned in the journal. He spoke in what was first thought to be gibberish. However, both Morgaine and Cirie recognized bits of elven tongue, and Berien understood pieces of draconic. They all recognized some common as well. The bluish script on the boys shoulder helped them understand his problem: He bore the Mark of Scribing, allowing him unparalleled access to language. Unfortunately, as he was raised in the wild, he had not yet come to understand, or differentiate, the multiple languages bouncing through his mind.
They also learned that Zatz knew of the Lyrandar operation on the eastern shore, and were given his promise that he would lead them to it the next day. And so they rested, knowing that the next stage of the mission lay close at hand…