And we’re off!
Captain Bastian arrived at the Cat and Fiddle to let us know that His Northern Majesty had agreed to stage a joint expedition. (Much to my relief. Faye had been making noises about setting up public debates against Zakaroth, something that seems almost guaranteed to end terribly.)
So we set sail on the King’s Hope with Bastian and an honour guard of twelve soldiers. Faye had been celebrating our departure and was too hung over to sing, but I’m sure she’ll compensate for it at some point.
We had a four-day journey up to the delta at the mouth of the Majestic River. I was surprised to see nothing more than a small fishing settlement there, but apparently boats usually give it a wide berth since the outflow can be strong and dangerous.
Well, a small fishing settlement, and a large ship flying Northern colours. The Northern contingent had no heroes per se – apparently they have only recently started emerging there – but they matched our guard: a dozen soldiers led by Captain Lyka, a half-orc of the female persuasion.
(Mmm, women in uniform.)
Pondering: the kingdoms were divided because the old kingdom was too large to govern without magic. But what if magic should return? What if some present or future king were to decide it was time to reunite them? Could be messy.
(Though I imagine mages would be in demand!)
From there we transferred to a barge, which was rather more crowded than the King’s Hope, and they began to pole us eastward.
To our surprise and inconvenience, we encountered solid-ish ground where we had expected navigable swamp. We got out to explore. The blockage was mostly dried mud and muck mixed with flotsam, apparently washed down by a flood, but up ahead we could see a plume of smoke.
I levitated Vall to get a better view. He reported that there was an encampment up ahead, and it looked as if the river had been deliberately blocked and diverted, possible for fishing purposes.
We headed up to the settlement; I was not very surprised to meet more lizard people. This time Faye didn’t get to kill any of them (hooray!) Vall negotiated with them and arranged passage; they told us which way to go around the blockage.
We returned to the barge and headed upriver. Near nightfall we arrived at solid-er land, an old trading post with a nice boat ready for us.
We journeyed another ten days upriver, taking us to near the eastern edge of known lands. The boatmen agreed to drop us off as far east as they were willing to go, then return to settled lands and wait for a month to pick us up.
The cut-off, when we reached it, was quite abrupt: on the west side of a fence were ploughed fields, on the east was untouched wilderness.
We discussed options and agreed that Bastian, Lyka, and the guards would come with us; they don’t have the spark that we do, but they should be able to look after themselves. We found an old cobblestone road, badly overgrown, and set off into the wilds.
Vall and some of the guards scouted ahead and reported that there was a large chasm blocking our path, some forty feet wide, running north to south as far as the eye could see, and here it was that things took a peculiar turn.
Chrysta approached, and saw no chasm, nothing more than a tiny crack in the ground. She stepped across it; Vall saw her disappear, and then reappear on the other side of the chasm. When they talked, Chrysta sounded faint to Vall, but Vall was loud to Chrysta – all in all, as if the chasm existed for Vall, but not for Chrysta.
(The rest of us, when we arrived at the chasm, experienced things as Vall did. Except for one thing that I’ll get to…)
Chrysta laid a short stick across the chasm, and to the rest of us it appeared as a long log spanning the gap. Vall set up a rope and climbed down into the chasm, and to Chrysta it appeared as if the rope was vanishing into a narrow crack.
I attempted to detect magic, and learned that Zakaroth has a magical quiver, armour, and bow, but I learned nothing about the crack.
Vall walked across the stick-bridge that Chrysta had laid. To her, it looked as if he was shuffling very slowly balanced on a small stick.
I looked into the crack, and was rather unpleasantly surprised to see eyes looking back at me from the abyss. Lots and lots of them. Most were watching me, some Zakaroth, a few Vall and Faye, but none Chrysta.
(Hmm. Responding perhaps to magical potential? Except for Chrysta’s; presumably if she can’t see the chasm, it can’t see her.)
Chrysta had told us previously that this mountain was known to dwarves as “the place that doesn’t make sense”. I suspect some extraplanar interference… but why is Chrysta affected differently? Is there something peculiar about dwarves?
We decided to cross using the stick-bridge. Vall and Faye went first, but the bridge broke. No matter, since Vall had a rope and they were able to recover. The eyes didn’t eat anybody.
As a replacement Chrysta laid down Faye’s falchion and we crossed it, one by one. (In my case, with a bit of unease, considering all the eyes.)
Shiny points: 16 carried over, +1 for summary, -2 spent = 15.