Shadows of Shra
The trip South is arduous. Captain Gianni Wingar doesn't abide laziness and puts the party to work in the rigging and on deck.
2 weeks into the trip and rations are thin. Gianni signals to the other 2 ships that they will need to stop for provisions. The other ships sail on without them, heading to Narrock and the city of Hopelight.
Gianni dispatches a team of his trusted men to the shore to barter with the local Hulese people for food and water.
8 hours later and the team has yet to return. Gianni gets visibly concerned and in desperation, offers Illiaph a chance to prove his worth by leading his people to shore.
They take the last landing boat to shore as night creeps across the sea of grass before them. The thick 5 foot tall grass obscures their vision and patches of razor sharp thorns make them uneasy, but not as uneasy as the scattered bones and quills.
In the distance they spot a large rock and beyond that, the lights of a small village. They hastily make for the villiage. They are stopped in their tracks as a beast pounces from the shadows onto Al. With the body of a lion, the wings of a dragon, the quills of a porcupine, the teeth of a shark and the face of a man, this beast is identified in Alistyrs bloody screams as a manticore, and it's not the only one.
From the south, another manticore appears flinging quills through the air at Dael. Illiaphs quasit takes flight, offering the party a birds (quasits) eye view of the battle.
The battle is fierce and manticores take to the air. Illiaph blasts one with a forceblast moving it directily above Al and Shalazars magic missiles finish him off, causing the beast to plummet from the air and crush Al.
The battle concludes with Illiaphs quasit scaring the remaining mantacore away.
The party spends the next 40 minutes attempting to move the mantacore corpse off of Al and identifying the corpses of the previous party tucked into a crevice in the rock. When this is concluded, they rush to the villiage to retrieve the goods they need.
The Hulese people were friendly to everyone except Dael. The dark skinned people identify clan and family relationships by using yellow tattoos similar to the painted elves, and whatever Daels tattoos tell them, it isn't positive.
The villiage elder insisted that the party prove their wit with a simple puzzle.
The first three are full of milk; the second three are empty. By moving only one glass, can you arrange them so empty and full glasses alternate?
Rilken proved his sharpness of mind by solving the puzzle without a moments hesitation and the party concluded their business.
Back on board the ship Gianni greeted Illiaphs party with relief and seems to trust them a bit more.The ship pulls into the port city of Hopelight. Narrocks capital city is gearing up for their Red Moon Festival where Akyri's red moon will strip all inhibition from the city's population of lycanthropes. Blackwell and his team is staying at the house of a "friend of the family" and will meet up with the party at the site near Shra.
The party stay at the Red Moon Inn, a large but spartan inn. Apparently the city doesn't get many travelers.
In the morning the majority of the expedition heads towards Shra, picking their way north through the badlands.
The dead city towers over the badlands. The stone spires rise high, some reaching into the clouds.
The expedition has set up a small fort near the outskirts of the city. Blackwell and Imzaerus have brought cannons from the ships to support their defenses.
Blackwell greets the party warmly, glad to be in good company again. He speaks with Illiaph privately before the team head into Shra to do some preliminary scouting.
The party, along with Blackwell and Imzaerus' apprentice Jin Slaughterval, carefully gather their supplies and creep into the bare streets. The city buildings are crumbled and empty, but the dozens of massive spires seems to house passages into the deep earth.
A torch dropped by all clatters to the ground hundreds of feet before a shadow figure grabs it and moves out of sight. The party decide that moving down can wait and attept to reach the peaks of one of the shorter monuments.
Climbing proves to be difficult for the only person without magical assistance, Dael. The top of the tower is an open air museum of artifacts and treasure. Gold is heaped up against the walls and chairs are spread around the circular room. Barely visibable to the party are the ghostly specters seated in the charis. Their eyes turn to observe the intruders, but they make no moves.
Rilken and Al identify them as specters, a form of ghost that is active during the day.
The center of the room is illuminated by a shaft of light and on a pedistal under a glass bell jar in this shaft of light are three large eggs.
The pedistal has a silver lined hole on one side. Dael identifies it as some type of locking mechanism, but Jin Slaughterval claims that it is an air shaft. He reaches his left arm into it and is blasted backwards by a powerful air current. He is barely caught by Al and Dael before he is flung off the 100 ft balcony.
The Specters seem to be becoming more visible as the sun begins to sink in the sky and they rise to their feet, turning to face the party. Each of these avian specters wears a long curved sword tucked into their loose robes and a silver bracer reminiscent of the one London sent to Rilken.
Jin is brought back to consciousness, but his arm has been damaged beyond Al's ability to heal.
"Well, I guess it is some kind of lock. With all this treasure just heaped about, I wonder what's so important about those eggs. Well, let's look for something silver. The key is always made from the same material as the lock."
The party shout down to Rilken. Perhaps the silver locking mechanism requires the silver bracelet. Unfortunately Rilken is has a severe aversion to heights. Convincing him to climb the 100 ft spire may be difficult.