The Black Isle

Last Saturday was Ouro’s birthday, so for a birthday present, Sian and I decided that we would treat him to a series of gaming sessions, as there’s not much else we can do in these lockdown times. As it turned out, we ended up with four sessions, the first two of which involved the four remaining party members – Darkblade, Peregrine, Sunblayze, and Thordar – cleansing the Black Isle.

The adventure started with the kidnapping of Elder Pane’s daughter, Kera. According to the elder, she had been kidnapped during the night, and a thorough search of the village was ordered. Later that afternoon, a snagged piece of white fabric was found in the brambles blocking the covered bridge to the feared Black Isle. Thus, the adventurers are called to go and explore the Black Isle and rescue Kera.

Crossing to the Black Isle

The adventurers were hesitant to explore the supposedly haunted Black Isle so late in the day, but there was no guarantee that the Elder’s daughter would be alive the following morning. So the party steeled themselves, and pushed their way into the brambles practically choking the bridge leading to the island.

The light was dim within the wooden covered bridge, and the party almost stumbled into thick webs stretched across it in the darkness. Although they avoided the sticky snare, they didn’t avoid the three giant spiders to which it belonged, and a tight fight within the narrow confines of the bridge ensued.

Upon defeating the spiders, the party managed to emerge from the covered bridge, and discovered that the forest-covered island wasn’t much lighter. The island had grown wild, and the trees merged together to form a sort of dungeon made of foliage. The sunlight of the late afternoon shines weakly through the canopy – bright enough to light their way, but also low enough that the party quickly realises that they only have about two hour before sunset.

The Tower

Exploring the island, the party finds an ancient tower pushing through the trees. The roof has fallen in, exposing part of the top floor of the three-storey tower. The tower itself lacks any windows, and the door is locked, although this is no problem for makeshift thief, Thordar, who opens the lock with a  deft click. Within the tower is empty apart from a spiral staircase heading upwards.

The first floor of the tower is filled with junk, which inconveniently hides a lurking Grey Ooze. Before the party knows it, combat with this deadly menace ensues. The creature is capable of dissolving metal on contact, and the largely plate-mail clad party realise that they could quickly end up unarmed and unarmoured if they don’t take care when fighting it. When the fight is over, the creature is dispatched, but not because it has dissolved Thordar’s greataxe, and severely damaged Peregrine’s magical broadsword, weakening it’s power.

The party are about to call it quits in the tower, before they hear a muffled banging on the top floor. Heading upwards, the party finds two coffins. The banging comes from within one, and the party fears the worst – they may be facing a powerful vampire. They cautiously open the coffin to discover Kera Pane bound within one, and the other appears to be empty.

Kera tells the party that the creature that kidnapped her said that he would return for her at sundown, which is now about an hour away. The party decides to set a trap for the creature. Peregrine will hide in the coffin Kera was in, and Darkblade will hide in the other. Meanwhile, Thordar and Sunblayze will protect Kera on the floor below, ready to engage the creature from behind if neccessary. With a definite plan agreed, we ended the session for the evening.

The Beast Arrives

On Friday, we commenced as the sun set on the Black Isle and the party waiting for the creature to attempt to retrieve Kera. They didn’t have to wait long, as about fifteen minutes later, Peregrine heard a thud as something landed outside the coffin. Grasping his dagger, Peregrine decided to try and surprise the creature by attack it when it opened the coffin.

Unfortunately for Peregrine, things didn’t quite go as planned. Although the creature was surprised that the coffin contained a plate mailed paladin rather than a young maiden, Peregrine’s dagger attack missed as the creature stepped back in shock. Darkblade also clumsily emerged from his hiding place, and was unable to strike the creature.

The creature, who was called Restad, offered to let the party leave unharmed, if they gave him the girl. Peregrine answered for the party, engaging with the creature instead. The fight was on, and despite a shaky start, the party quickly gained the advantage over Restad. But the vampire wasn’t so easily bested, and instead of being killed, Restad turned to mist and fled the tower. The party saw the mist head towards another abandoned building on the isle and disappear within.

The Legend of Verminslayer

With little choice, the party decided to pursue the vampire to it’s lair. They couldn’t let it live, and quickly headed to the ruined building. It was an old temple, once dedicated to the Holy Defender. As they approached, they heard scrabbling nearby, and before they knew it, zombies lurched out of the darkness, having dug themselves out of the ground.

The zombies were tough, but the party was tougher, and soon the undead were dispatched. Yet, upon entering the ruins, the party discovered that it too was occupied, but not with undead. Instead, they disturbed a nest of bats, and whilst most eventually fled, a host of giant bats stayed to fight. Sunblayze attempted to work her way around the creatures, but was soon cut off. Thordar valiantly carved his way through to save her, and was quickly awarded the dubious epithet of “Batslayer.”

Thordar proved himself not only adept at killing bats though, as the party headed downstairs into the temple cellar, where they were set on by a swarm of giant rats. Thordar proved his worth once again, slaying these as well, for which his nickname was upgraded to “Verminslayer.”

The Beast Defeated

The party were concerned – besides the rats, the cellar was empty, with no sign of where Restad could have gone. But as the party slew his minions, the vampire soon emerged through a secret door from his lair to attack the party. The final showdown was upon them, and the party knew what to do. They focused everything they had on the vampire, and eventually Restad was no more. This time, the vampire didn’t turn to mist, but crumbled into a pile of ash before their eyes. Turns out the beast wasn’t a true vampire after all, but was still powerful enough to give the party a good fight.

Exhausted, Darkblade, Peregrine, Sunblayze, and Thordar emerged from the Black Isle with Kera alongside. Her rescue greatly delighted Elder Pane. The Patriarch was also pleased, as within the temple ruins, the party had recovered a metal coffer that still contained 100 gold pieces. The party had decided that since the coffer was marked with the Holy Defender, they would return it with the gold, and the Patriarch gratefully decided that the coffer was worth more than the gold, and let the party keep it as a reward.

Of course, this wouldn’t prevent the wily Patriarch from getting it back, as the party were reminded of tithes, and the cost of identifying items they had found, as well as restoring the magic within Peregrine’s damaged broadsword. With a sigh, the party rolled their eyes – Easy come, easy go…