Dates: January 20th to 22nd 1000 PCE.
Matthias “Math” Mannheim
Adelle Mirodar (Jayne’s companion)
Captain Zachary Thorpe
Lilith Johnson (First Mate)
Herschel Dupree (insurance banker)
Hershel’s two servants: Bob and Rob
Freeman Skinner (Quartermaster)
Thaddeus “Tad” Tillerson (Bosun)
Jaun Silva (Master Carpenter)
The Frost Bank Tower, the Hive Vine Sargasso
Experience Points Awarded: 1110 XP (constituting experience gained during chapters one and two of the present campaign)
“Wait-You didn’t wear your armour? Oh…”
Sure enough, mere moments after the party fished Cole out of the water, a band of seven more sea devil mutants burst from the depths and attacked. Hurling spears and inscrutably gargled curses, the monsters surrounded the party’s rowboats and blocked their path back to the Hawke and Arcadia. As the battle was joined in earnest, the combatants, man and beast alike, felt a nauseating wave of sickness pulse through their bodies. Suppressing the urge to wretch, the party pressed on. At this point, however, the party realized the sea devils were wearing decorative collars crafted in the same manner as their own crude necklaces. The necklaces seemed to emit a dull purple glow until the nauseating wave subsided.
Certainly this detail was something the adventurers would have liked to investigate further with the luxury of relative safety, however, the danger of the sea devil encounter postponed any such plans. The party, lightly equipped for their scout mission to the glass pyramid and literally out of their element, fought bravely, but as first Marsala and then William fell under the vicious tooth and nail onslaught of the sea devils’ fury, those still in the fight began to contemplate a dire fate and could give no heed to necklaces, glowing or otherwise.
“Give me back my arrow.”
Jayne, spyglass in hand, watched from the bow of the Arcadia and called for Orphea to raise sail and bring the ship closer to the fight. Taking aim with his longbow, the woodland slayer began firing on the sea devils. In spite of the urgency at hand, Jayne felt his mind drifting to dimly recalled thoughts of places and things of which he held no certain memory. Figments of mountains and woods and a hunt he had never known crowded his imagination. In his mind’s eye he could see the great hart of the forest, the broad mantle of his antlers, the mist snorting from his nostrils. Taking aim, Jayne loosed an arrow at the phantasm. Suddenly snapping back to reality from the reverie of errant memory, Jayne realized his aim was indeed true. One then two and finally a third arrow all had found their targets and Jayne felt himself bolstered by an untapped wellspring of hidden prowess. All the while, Adelle stood at Jayne’s elbow and whispered into his ear with words of encouragement and more.
“How soon until the boat gets here?”
Meanwhile the leader of the sea devils had swum under one of the dinghies to avoid Jayne’s fire and begun slashing under the keel in an attempt to breach the hull and sink the boat. The other mutants closed in and started pressing their advantage. Matthias stood at the fore in defence of Marsala and challenged the sea devils to test his improvised cookware-armour, but he was eventually dropped by the fell swipe of a claw. Soon after that the lead monster emerged from under the keel and felled the hapless Everest with a single harpoon stroke. With over half the party brought low and three monsters still set upon them, Cole and Edmond steeled themselves for a grisly end.
“I can run on this?”
Amidst the chaos of the fight few realized and fewer cared to note the gradual rising of seaweed in the vicinity of the glass tower. Within a minute the weeds had grown so thick that in places one could climb up and walk upon the surface of the vegetative mat. As the leader of the sea devil warband finally noticed the emerging field of sargasso, a look of panic twisted across his grotesque face. Wide watery eyes stretched wider and he called for his companions to retreat from the glass spire and the rapidly spreading field of green muck surrounding it.
Meanwhile the Arcadia and Hawke became mired in the same tangled morass of weeds and vines. His progress stayed by the sudden sargasso, Jayne took up his healing kit, leaped down from the prow of the Arcadia, and started running across the mats towards his fallen comrades. Edmond did his best to improvise a bandage to stanch William’s bleeding wound. By luck and leech craft the crew survived their wounds and lived to fight another day.
“No one is going alone into the darkness.”
Soon thereafter the growth of the sargasso stabilized leaving the Hawke and Arcadia effectively bottomed upon the surface of the slimy mat of weeds, a mat that by now stretched for miles to the north. The risen sargasso had brought with it a veritable graveyard of ships from the deep. The party looked across the expanse of sargasso and saw the remnants of dozens of ships that had met their end in the grip of the green weeds.
As the fallen wounded regained consciousness, Orphea convened a council on the deck of the Arcadia. The sea crews had spent the day hacking at the sargasso fronds in an attempt to free the ships but to no avail. Any progress they made was undone by the continual rising of more plant mass from the depths below.
Edmond suggested that the crews should fasten lines from the ships to the tower in case the Sargasso sinks again and drags the ship down with it. Orphea and Captain Thorpe consented and a party of the still-able was assembled to run ropes to the tower. With nightfall descending the party intended to keep careful watch and Cole was first to spot dark figures moving among the shadows. Dismayed by the looming darkness, the group determined to head back and wait for light, though Jaun Silva, the ship’s carpenter, grumbled about disobeying orders from Captain Thorpe. Cole decided to leave the rope length where progress halted. During the evening the men on watch reported tugging at the rope but nothing more alarming than that.
Late that night ship quartermaster Freeman Skinner entertained the crew with a guitar and vocal rendition of “Machine’s Last Stand”, a Merikan folk song about the defence and destruction of Machine City. The song tells of the wandering hero Janov Seldon, who led the Merikan militia in their fatal last stand against the forces of the Phoenix Order.
“These sailors are fops!”
The next morning early scouts reported that the rope left on the sargasso had been cut where it lay. Captain Thorpe arranged a new party from the sail crew and said he’d have them secure a new line during daylight.
Matthias prepared a hearty breakfast and the party set out onto the sargasso to explore. As the night before, the party spotted movement in the distance though no certain figures or forms could be discerned. Travelling eastward, the party came to the wreck of the Zodiac. After inspection the party deemed the wreck impenetrable due to the thick vines and fronds grown into and indeed filling the hull. Jayne consulted his Fieldbook of Merikan Flora and Fauna and determined that the sargasso could be a massive Hive Vine like the kinds found in lakes and wetlands near Larada. Backtracking north and taking a different fork south the party found the wreckage of the Victorious and the Ascot under the same circumstances as the Zodiac. All ships had filled with vines which had grown into and spread within the hulls. Likewise all three ships had subsequently become pulled further down into the mat of sargasso. Edmond had identified the Ascot as a more recent victim of the sargasso and it proved to be the only wreck of the three at which identifiable human remains, skeletal fragments, could be found. The bones were hollow, supple, and pliant and bore hairline seams through which their contents seem to have burst forth.
The party also ventured a mile or so north of the Victorious and found the terrain took a notably darker hue with reddish brown leaves and vines growing alongside the familiar green foliage comprising the rest of the sargasso. In addition to this, the darker area of the sargasso sprouted an abundance of lavender blossoms. Jayne and Everest inspected the blooms and surmised that the bulbous stem of these flowers was likely some kind of spore or seed sac. The group promptly prepared makeshift mouth and nose coverings to prevent inhaling such particles. With nightfall approaching the party decided to head back to the Hawke for the evening. Before leaving, Matthias left one of his pans on the sargasso mat near the edge of the flowered area.
“This is not a man to play cards with.”
During the evening, the crew heard a commotion in the mess. Jaun Silva and Herschel Dupree were having a poker game that had become quite tense. The pile of coins in front of Silva indicated how the game was going and Dupree was out of his mind with frustration and accusing Silva of being a cheat. Dupree anted Edmond into the game from his own purse and the trio played a hand. Dupree dealt Edmond a straight flush and Edmond, keeping a close eye on Silva’s hands and cards, rode it to a win. During the game, he could detect no sign of foul play and told Dupree that Silva was nonetheless an impressive opponent.
“What’s his name again? Rod? Todd?”
The party passed another uneasy night trapped in the sargasso and looked to the dawn for familiar comfort. But this morning was different. One of Dupree’s servants, Rob, had gone missing during the night. He had a habit of strolling the top deck before taking his sleep and had done so the night before, but the man on watch, bosun Thaddeus Tillerson, reported seeing Rob head below deck afterwards.
The next morning Jayne identified traces of the man’s footfalls and tracked a northerly path into the sargasso mat. Jayne detected Rob’s tracks were eventually joined by two more sets of humanoid tracks and ended at the edge of the bloom field where the party found Rob lying on the ground near where Matthias had left his pan the day before (which was now covered in new growth). Rob was unconscious; his breath shallow; his pulse faint. Rob also had vines growing into his ears. As the party deliberated about a course of action, William was overcome by an impulse for self-preservation and cut the vine running into the left ear with a swift chop of his hand axe. Rob instantly gasped and his eyes opened wide revealing that his formerly brown irises now glowed a verdant shade of green. More alarmingly, his body proceeded to shudder in violent convulsions. In response Cole cut more vine from the left ear in order to claim a sample of the intrusive plant. Seeking to put Rob out of his misery and protect the party from infection, William prepared to deal a killing blow against Rob’s helpless body but was deterred by Matthias, who deflected the attack which landed a non fatal strike against Rob’s arm.
At this point Marsala pushed forward to conjure a healing hex. The party looked on in amazement as the warrior shaman muttered prayers to the Loa spirits, prayers that were answered when Rob’s arm wound mended; his convulsions ceased; and his unnatural emerald eyes regained their former hue. After the remaining vine slipped out of Rob’s right ear, Matthias carefully hoisted his still-lifeless body and the party resolved to venture still deeper into the dark heart of the sargasso.
“Hey! Everest hit something!”
After another hour’s trek, the party came upon two ships closely spaced in the sargasso mat: the Gannett and the Vendetta. Edmond recognized the Gannett as a ship that had set out on an evangelical mission led by a zealous churchman known as Phineas Whitelock. Hoping to convert the pagan tribes of the Forbidden Zone to their own brand of apocalyptic Christianity, Whitelock and his evangelical brothers had set out from Noirlan two years ago. Their journey had evidently ended here upon the sargasso of the Silent Sea.
The party decided to approach the Gannett and explore its hold, which proved far more accessible than those of the older, more thoroughly decayed vessels they had encountered the previous day. Marsala invoked the Loas to illuminate his shield and the party fell in behind him as he led the way into the darkened bowels of the rotting vessel. Inside the crew quarters they saw an intact passage leading to the captain’s quarters and midway down the corridor a bureau upon which a leather bound journal perched precariously above a conspicuous mound of weeds.
Marsala stepped forward and the rotted floor shifted knocking the book into a shallow pool of stagnant sea water and sargasso fronds. Hoping to recover the book before the muck could destroy its contents, William sprang forward to retrieve it from the slimy sinkhole. He could not have seen that the clump of vines within the pool was actually an animate plant, which sprung to life and violently slammed him in the chest as soon as he crossed into the fetid water. William instantly fell unconscious and sunk down into the weeds as his assailant rose upward, his enervated vines wrapping and curling to assume an imitative humanoid form. Marsala stooped to drag William onto relatively drier land while the rest of the party arrayed for battle. This time Matthias’s crockpot cuirasse held fast and the hulking chef successfully warded off the assassin vine’s doughtiest blows. While the party struggled to find a weakness in the creature’s own formidable defences, Everest Bell, watching for an opening, strafed the perimeter of the melee. Finally seeing the opportunity he was waiting for, Everest fired an arrow from his short bow and pierced the heart of the green beast. The party promptly recovered the journal, but, before they could regroup, the hull of the Gannett began to quake violently as if buffeted by some unseen force…