We leave the excellent establishment of the Astral Tavern, decided upon by vote (of course the Wizard abstains).
We await at the gate, having paid with our legendary token to enter the stop. Loraphim, the heavenly creature, assures us that she (?It?) will keep an eye on the demons and other creatures of evil. The area we wait gazes upon the infinite purple surroundings, with nothing stirring. While we rest and wait, the party decides to make the best of their free time. Gamalion thinks about a rock. Garion tries floating; Tierra the wizard has practice with a new spell, “water into beverage”.
Time passes, and seems to bleed into the next day.
Roark speaks with Gamalian, and then Hanlon starts teaching with Gamalion and ;Mijima’, the blade with a name. The cleric is alarmed to see the student stabbing the monk. Garion continues to practice floating. A party member exclaims, unbelievably, “Go back to your stabbing”.
In the far distance, the vault of stars can be appreciated; it seems extremely far, although close in Astral Terms.
Then, a small dot is identified, and seems to get larger. A red and white ship stops suddenly at our spot, about 75 feet long. It has the name “Blue Slipper” written on the side. A single mast sticks out of the center of the deck. A large female barbarian with a large hammer eyes our party as we make our way to the craft. A man with an interesting speech pattern quickly introduces himself. “I’m Captain Rolly Free. For the first half hour on the oars will be 500 gold, and then we are good to go.” He gives the impression he has never held a position for longer than one can hold their breath.
As the party steps on board, the observe the other creatures on board. There are half orc fighter passengers, as well as 8 feet fall flesh golems. A quick glance at the huge female barbarian reveals that she has a facial tic. All but the wizard offer to handle the oars, as well as Roark.
After a brief time hauling oar, the party speaks with the captain. He talks about his route, which leaves Lastic, and goes to Fort Galleon. He then offers a taste of Red Jackal, a fine weed. The wizard is keen on trying this mildly hallucinogenic weed, and offers his drink in return. The captain takes a quick swig. The wizard decides to take a taste as well, and ends up vomiting his breakfast rations. The captain laughs, thinking how he was so clever to feign appreciation in the beverage. The rest of the party enjoys the joke, as the wizard tries to scrape his tongue clear of the foul drink. As some form of apology, the captain offers the wizard some of the Red Jackal. The spellcaster quickly becomes happier, now at 11 degrees to the deck, baking and feeling numb.
The captain offers some more information, about the Dock they had left. Apparently, the ship had just left ACCAS, where the barbarian was picked up. At this point, the wizards ability to geography and location seems to be completely absent.
The rest of the party spend time on other pursuits. Hanlon watches Gamalion focus on the rock, and make great progress. Garion watches the horizon, as Tierra studies.
About a day and a half later (as time is extremely difficult to gauge), a clanging rings out. A number of hours later, the ship pulls up to a 50 km diameter sphere, that appears to be a nasty place. Fire dominates it’s surface, and a great heat is palpable. It appears to be a hellish demiplane, and the boat pulls up to a stop. A creature boards the ship, apparently known as a AtChuRi (with the appearance of a large 4 legged bird like creature). An immediate sense of unease is felt by all, as the creature walks past them.
The next day, the passengers once again man the oars, as the wizard and familiar rest up on the deck. Afterwards, the group follow their pursuits. Tierra studies, as Hanlon and Gamalion practice with the blade. At one point, Hanlan has a mild drainage of his life essence; Gamalion feels serenely disturbed. The wizard hits the Red Jackal again. After a few hours, Hanlon regains his life essence, and offers some sage advice.
The Captain, looking into the distance, cries “OMG, a Spinner”. It appears to be a circular dot, in the far distance. The boat slows significantly, revealing a bright, spiral collection of light, about 50 km in diameter. Captain Rolly appears extremely excited. "I’ve heard of these things, these swirls of energy. They don’t last long, and no one knows where they come fro But they can charge the ship, and catching ‘a beam’ is a great charge.
[At this point, the Black Bird puppet comes out, to great cheering).
All hands work on the oars, and with the Captains guidance, the ship successfully catches beam. Unique glowing is noted coming from parts of the ship.
Suddenly, a black 2 masted ship appears from the rear of the craft. Over a dozen creatures jump off their deck and head for the passenger ship. Tierra rushes to the edge, attempting to cast a fireball, but the creatures are too quick. As the incoming enemy reach the craft, the rest of the party react. Garion swings, and Hanlon jumps over the edge. Gamalion strikes one with a crossbow, as Tierra calls forth two Hound archons, which manage to strike an enemy. The heroes seem to have a slight bluish glow, and all of their initial attacks seem to be powered, after which the glow disappears.
The wizard blows his horn, to the advantage of the party. The hounds continue to maul more of the black leather clad invaders. The captain starts swinging a chain, with a sickle on one end, and a weight on another. Hanlon, having launched himself over the edge, manages to strike a huge opponent with a mighty hit. Even Rork manages to injure a creature.
The creatures are truly unearthly. They are clad in black, with smooth black leather masks, carrying swords. However, they seem to try to grasp their victims in vicious bear hugs. Captain Rolly is taken down by two of these creatures. The large flesh golems are engaged. Garion manages to bat away an attack, as well as Tierra. While in combat, a mask is knocked off, and the heroes are repulsed by the lack of features seen underneath. No eyes, nose or mouth is present, purely flesh.
The large invader somehow manages to crash into the rear of the craft, entering the hull. The large barbarian drops her weapon, as the wizard manages to cast burning hands. Roark cries, and causes 3 to flee in terror. Gamalion stabs the deck, and regains his glow. The ‘thief / banker’ manages to backstab and kill another creature. As the wizard attempts to aid a fallen Tierra, the dark evil four legged fowl creature attacks, and nearly kills the spellcaster. At this point, a huge blast bursts from below deck, rocks the ship, and blows up the back of the star craft.
The rear of the craft is now splinters, and the evil bird like creature releases the wizard. Tierra manages to cast a healing spell on the spellcaster. At this point, the raiding party begin to withdrawal. The heroes continue to strike the enemy, including the Hound Archons. Gamalion also strikes the foul fowl. A black toxic cloud emanates from the creature, enveloping Tiran Lightson. At the same time, the wizard unleashes his charge magical stone weapons and decimates the devilish creature.
Garion and Tierra yell – ‘We need a ship’. However, the wizard begins to act in an unusual fashion. Fortunately, Tierra casts dispel magic, and manages to make the wizard sane. Hanlon searches the remaining bodies – the captain and first mate are found dead as well. Various swords are found, including gold, chest plate, a sword and a glaive.
The party continues to take stock of the situation. Rork thinks he sees something in the far distance. The enemy ship is no longer visible. All that remains is scattered debris of the ferry craft, and the heroes floating among the rubble……..