Wherein, our heroes, in the guise of the East Bay Company, sailed down to Snakefang Strait and what they discovered on their journey and at their destination...
Before departing, the company finished their discussion with Javier, formerly a commander of a cohort in the Ashen Kingdom’s 23rd Legion and now a deserter on the run. As the company continued to press Javier about the content of his duffel bag, from which occasional clatterings could be heard and stirrings could be seen, he continued to demure. They did discover, however, that Javier had led his cohort into a dark woods known as “Miller’s Forest”, a location both known and unknown to one of their number, namely Trent, who had once ventured into said forest and exited it without any memory of what occurred within.
After finishing their conversation with the deserter, the company boarded Mica Nava (small ship), the small sailing vessel commanded by Sorina and crewed by her followers--their destination? The treacherous waters of Snakefang Strait where they had been told the rebellion strike force had sunk. Their first day of sailing was pleasant and smooth, but a storm rose up on the second, while Sorina and Corrie, who is also a skilled sailor, fought the storm and kept the ship sailing, the other crouched in a cabin and attempted to keep the contents of their stomachs from escaping. Trent’s keen ears heard the sounds of vomiting coming, not from his fellows, but from under a canvas tarp and removing it, he, Hinrik, Norah and Hardwick discovered a small stowaway clutching a large, thin wrapped bundle. Seeing Hinrik, or Henry, the stowaway introduced herself as Carson Bosworth, orphaned niece of Henry’s beloved Karin Locklight. Carson had fled the tyrannical household of the Locklights and had come searching for Henry, who her dear aunt had spoken lovingly of. After hiding and sleeping on the streets of Restport for three weeks, the plucky runaway had spotted Henry as he boarded the Mica Nava and snuck aboard. She brought with her the bundle she had stolen from her cousin, Osgar Locklight, but when Trent tried to take it from her an intense pain shot through his body and the bundle dropped from his hands. As it feel, the clothes Carson had wrapped it in fell away and revealed it to be the Liberator, the quite distinctive great sword rumored to have once been wielded by the Hero Gerrard himself. Identified by its legendary pommel, made of ruby and emerald, which depicted the sun rising over the green hills of the Free Valleys. Hardwick examined it, feeling as he held it a growing sense of discomfort and then Hinrik claimed it as his own, sans scabbard. Carson begged Henry to let her stay with him and Henry, unable to do anything that might disappoint his beloved Karin, agreed to be her protector.
Sorina, Corrie and the crew of the Mica Nava successfully rode out the storm and the company arrived in the Snakefang Strait. Anchoring the ship, they spotted a hidden path going up the cliff to a cave that could be used to hide material salvaged from the ships. They decided to investigate and climbed the rain slick path, finding a small trail of smoke emerging from the cave. Hinrik was left to guard the entrance while the others slipped in stealthily. Exploring slowly, the company discovered a large cavern deep in the rock filled with a shrine to Asasara, the snake goddess whose temple they had found on Adder Crag, but here the ceremonial statue was slightly different. Instead of having its hands out evenly to each side, here the statue of the goddess had each arm bent slightly so that water dripping from the stalactites above would land on the head of each snake held in the statues hands and drip down and off the fangs of each snake like venom. The cavern was filled with salvaged ship timbers, magical and alchemical ingredients and an old man, whom our heroes spotted kneeling in meditation before the statue of his deity. As the rest of the company found this tableau, at the cave’s entrance, Hinrik began to hear screams emanating from within and rushed down to the aid of his friends, or so he thought, he caught himself just before he was to collide with the others, eliminating any chance for surprise that the party might have had. Trent approached the old man and began to converse.
He was Adderic, he told them, the last devotee of Asasara, now that his last apprentice Dye, had gone off to her final devotion. The cult of Asasara that dwelt in this cave, he told them, had eschewed the strict non-violence of their brethren, instead training for a Final Devotion that would remove an evil doer from the world and give the cultist the tools they’d need to endure the everlasting torment and damnation their assassination would deliver them into. As they spoke, Hardwick, ever wary of other sorcerers, noticed that Adderic’s skin seemed to be scaly, as if he were an attuned sorcerer, as became suspicious, attempting to prevent Norah from eating stew the old hermit offered. But as Hardwick clumsily attempted a false trip to knock Norah’s bowl of stew from her hands, the old hermit moved with uncanny grace and caught it. Once the company inquired about the salvage from the vessel of the rebellion’s strike force, Adderic admitted that he knew where it lay, as it had been given by Dye as an offering to the goddess before her Final Devotion. He told the company that should they be willing to perform a devotion to Asasara he would be able to give over the salvage they desired to them. The company agreed and Adderic brewed and served them a tea to prepare them for their visit to the goddess’ home, then he led them to an elaborate brass door and sent them inside.
Each descended down hundreds of stairs into an ever widening cavern where they found themselves on a slightly concave, round platform thirty feet across standing as a pedestal in what appeared to be an unending chasm. As the lantern Adderic had provided them sputtered and died, they noticed that above them hung stalactites where they could catch hints of movement. They re-lit their torch which flickered greatly in the breezes of the cavern and saw above them the battered and bloody corpse of Joachim which dropped down amongst them with a thud and spoke menacingly about how he would “be with them always” before grasping Hardwick’s arm and seeming to be sucked into Hardwick. After Joachim disappeared, Hardwick discovered that the stairs had disappeared and their exit seemed to be gone, so using his sorcery he flew off into the void. Hardwick flew back ten minutes later, have discovered to no limits to the cavern the company found themselves in as the stalactites above the group writhed with large serpents. One fell on Hardwick and bit him, bringing death to him before the others could prevent it and then one by one the others fell to the snakes, conjuring up ghostly images of those close to them as they waited.
When Hardwick, and then the others, awoke, they found themselves in a thirty foot wide chamber free of snakes, with just twenty stairs leading back to the ornate brass doors they had entered through. They returned to Adderic’s shrine, where he had three large iron chests of papers waiting for them. Corrie pressed Adderic to flee with them, as the 23rd Legion of the Ashen Kingdom was on its way, but he refused. Then Hardwick and Corrie asked Adderic if they had any other items that might assist them and he gave them a small, beautifully carved dark oak box and told them to keep it closed until they were back on the ship. Back on the ship, during their two day voyage back to Restport, the company dug through the documents they had acquired. Norah discovered the packet on the Ashen Kingdom’s mole in the Ever-Burning Cinder, an individual identified as “K. S.” operating in Tribute. Trent discovered a packet on one of Commander Lucian’s projects, a large and elaborate throne room that would imbue the person who sat on the throne with the life-force, skills and memories of any and all killed in the room. The throne required materials from the Miller’s Forest and was somehow tied to the Secret of Dinda, leading Trent to keep this information to himself as a secret, for now. Corrie and Hardwick opened the carved oak box and discovered inside two matching bracelets, each made of rough brown hair, skillfully woven together and obviously enchanted... The Mica Nava arrived back in Restport harbor and the company disembarked to discover what fate awaited them next.
Closing Credits: The Legendary Pink Dots "Leap of Faith" from Seconds Late for the Brighton Line