Dragons of Blackminster

Shar Gazoth 16 - The "Hammer of Torkas"

The only way is Up

*REMINDER Next time we are playing on THURSDAY 12th October instead of the usual Wednesday.
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[GM: As the three new players didn’t turn up for the last session, I decided they would bravely defend the Gate through the city wall while our heroes got to the Great Ship. Next session we will be splitting into two groups with two GMs as the group has become too large (assuming the new guys turn up).]

Three of the red orcs (Magnus Hammerhand the priest of the Storm God, Raef the warlock and Rudma the ranger), volunteered to stay and hold off the white orc reinforcements while Rakk led the rest of the party to the Shipyard.

This was a huge, delapidated warehouse with no roof. The huge ship rested on a wheeled cradle on iron rails. However, the rails had been recently peeled-up (unknown to Magnus!). Since the Horn of Torkas had been lost for centuries and the Ship was useless without it, it had gradually become forgotten. A few years earlier the White Orcs had even begun to strip it of useful metal. It seems they had recently taken the rails too.

They had no choice but to try and fly the ship out.

Hammer_of_Torkas_with_Sails.jpg

Clayton handed the Horn to Rakk who dashed to the chart room, slid open the wall and tried to add the Horn alongside the images of the other two. His heart fell and he began to fill with rage that the human had tricked him. Clayton took it back and tried himself, this time it shimmered and became an image and the ship began to vibrate and glow blue from the keel and the mast. The blue shimmer passed through Clayton with a tingle too.
[GM: Perhaps it worked for him because Clayton was attuned to it ? Perhaps because he is now a priest of Torkas?]

Next to the Chart was a big glass bowl painted like a bloody-eye (a button) that began slowly filling with black liquid. The Lich had explained this was a timer for when the auto-pilot would kick-in, taking them directly to space, heading for the Portal out of this solar system. They could press it early, as long as there was open sky above them but otherwise would have maybe a week of free flight before the Voyage “to find god” would begin.

Despite having no particular skills with flying ships, Rakk raced to the Wheel to take control. They had all been briefed by Magnus and by the Lich on how to steer the thing. A simple throttle and a Wheel that turned and also tilted forward and back – how hard could it be ? Rakk had steered sailing ships before so hoped it would be similar.

Magnus had arranged for a crew of red orc sailors to meet them at the ship and Rakk shouted orders to them to cast off and try to rig the sails. All were Torkas-faithful orcs with a grudge against the white orc usurpers of the city. The Great Ship was a religious quest to them. Sadly the sails were tattered and motheaten, many of the ropes, lines, sheets and other nautical bits and pieces were also in a bad way so the crew could do little to help with steering or speed.

Mulan scrambled lithely to the crows nest and shouted that she could see the three Wyverns launching from the citadel and heading this way – one of them was carrying a rider – Lord Stagmork – the anti-paladin Death Knight – first servant of Lillith the Winter Queen.
Rakk pulled back on the wheel gently and nothing seemed to happen, a bit more and the ship tilted violently, smashing its heel into the ground with rending timbers. He pushed forward to correct but the sluggishness of the controls fooled him and he crashed the nose into the ground and had to slowly straighten-up. [GM: there is some sort of mystical connection with the ship through the controls and it requires Arcana checks to “feel” it – so Rakk was struggling]

He managed to get the ship to move forward and ever so slightly, tilted up. It began to edge forward and up, almost (but not quite) clearing the side wall of the warehouse. The stone walls were dry and crumbled on contact, but tore away more timbers from the hull. This ship wouldn’t float on water without serious repair work.

Magnus and the others ran through the rubble, seizing dangling ropes and being pulled after the ship.

Clayton and Jock headed for the “Eye” chambers where there were large ballistas (giant crossbows) with swivel seats. A couple of orcs followed them in to each cabin and worked the loading and swivelling mechanisms. Clayton’s first shot struck the nearest wyvern, not enough to kill it, but it was knocked from the sky, tail-spinning to the ground where it shook itself and launched again.

Jock couldn’t get far enough around to get a shot.

Abraham and Gaston found their way to the “forward weapon” a huge brass tube, clearly some sort of cannon intended to hurl iron balls. They had never seen one before but had been told by the Lich that the ancient scriptures of the Storm God had spoken of “black powder” which would ignite and propel the iron balls with great speed. Looking down the tube, they could see it contained a soggy black slush. The tube was long enough so they heaved-in three iron balls from a cupboard nearby one after the other and stood ready to light the fuse at the base of the tube.

They needed to fire the cannon into the great shaft overhead to try and destroy the whirling blades of the fan that was blocking them in. Unfortunately, they lit the fuse but it fizzled out and they had to run back on deck to explain the problem to Rakk.

Davidian, Abraham and Gaston then stood either side of the Wheel to defend the helmsman, but didn’t realise how much he was struggling for control.

Mulan shot one of the Wyverns and then crouched in hiding in the crows nest, but it struck blindly where she had been and the massive tail spike struck her by fluke, flooding her with poison.

She almost died from it but leapt onto the creature’s neck and managed to dodge a couple more swipes, even managing to get it to stab itself (and poison itself!). Jock and Clayton ran on deck and put a few arrows into it and Davidian hit it with magic missiles. As it came lower to attack with claws and bite, Gaston finished it off with his axe.

Abraham managed to hit the third wyvern (the one carrying Lord Stagmork) with a confusion spell, keeping him out of the fight for a few more precious seconds, but the Death Knight cast some kind of spell causing his dark eyes to glitter. Beneath his steel helmet, Gaston’s eyes glittered too!

Davidian decided to step in and take over the helm from Rakk allowing him to go below and examine the cannon, but as he moved away from Gaston, the great axe hacked him down, then Gaston moved to Abraham and tried to kill him too, knocking him backwards off the ship. By now the ship was spinning (but to those on board it seemed to stay stable and the world span around it. [GM: the ship generates its own gravity field so seems to remain stable – the spinning of the scenery was enough to make most new travellers nauseated]
The red-orc crew were scattered by the huge wyverns and struggled to pull up their fellow red orcs on the ropes and netting.

Fortunately, Abraham had tumbled into the netting over the side and soon scrambled back up. The mental compulsion from the Death Knight was too strong for Gaston and as Abraham healed the fallen Davidian and the half-elf struggled to regain control and point the ship at the shaft, the dominated warrior hacked him down again, sending the ship into an even wilder spin.
Again, Abraham healed the half-elf and again he was hacked down, until finally Gaston snapped out of it.

The Death Knight got his mount under control and swooped closer.

At the Cannon, Rakk waited for the wild spinning of the ship to bring the shaft into line and he cast a chromatic orb of fire into the barrel, igniting the damp powder and causing a massive explosion.

Three iron balls was far too much weight and the brass cannon smashed backwards with the recoil, destroying the room (fortunately Rakk had not been standing at the back where you would usually light the fuse!) The explosion hurled the three balls far enough to clatter into the fan blades, smashing the machinery and causing it to tear itself loose and fall into the city below.

As Davidian gasped back into life again, the ship lined-up with the shaft and he pushed the throttle forward hard. The ship leapt up, heading for the moonlit night sky at the top of the shaft and leaving the wyverns and the Death Knight far below.

They made it out of the top of the volcano and set course for East Port to get supplies and repairs before the ship began its voyage “to find god”!

They had some time to get familiar with steering but it only took a day to fly back to East Port (it had been a few weeks of hiking, even with the teleportation through the Tanglewood).
At East Port they were in some trouble with the Inquisition and the Earl of East Port as they had stolen the Horn of Torkas (and also blown the horn causing a two-hour fog cloud, 2 miles across)! Somehow they managed to explain all this away as having been necessary to prevent the White Orcs from getting their magic mirror portal working and also as the only way to “defeat” the Lich.

The City agreed to repair and supply the ship – even providing some more crew – in the hopes that after the ship’s pre-programmed Voyage, they would be able to return and use the Ship to make war on the White Orcs.

*REMINDER Next time we are playing on THURSDAY 12th October instead of the usual Wednesday.
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MickH666

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