Having finally been reunited with Zephus the Paladin, the Dragonbusters independent adventuring consortium was once again whole. They returned to their luxurious mansion to rest, recuperate, and figure out their next move.
The journal of Certoz that Zephus had discovered provided several clues. It mentioned a realm of peace and prosperity, a dark tower over a ruined town, and a few details of how the evil drow Cordalaya treated her employees. After doing some research, Zephus recognized the area as being that of his homeland, Turmish. The city that was mentioned, however, did not sound familiar. They reasoned, then, that it must be located in the Eastern part of Turmish, geographically separated from Zephus’ homeland in the West.
Despite his misgivings, Kiba the ranger agreed to the swifter sea route. The rest of the group’s assurances that he was less likely to encounter spiders on a water voyage probably made his decision easier. They decided to travel first to Westgate, allowing Zephus to report to his superiors. Gargantuon and Eslbeth sought out pirate costumes to make the voyage more realistic, while Iseri secured their transport. The night before departure, they were feasted by the Radiant Heart. While most of what happened at the feast remains lost to history, legend has it that Gargantuon alone rendered the meat and poultry industry of the Dragon Coast out of business for the entire season!
On board the ship, the Dragonbusters met with the crew. The captain seemed somewhat reasonable; however the bosun was a completely insane gnome. The gnome latched onto Elsbeth (literally) until she helped him root out a strange source of magic down in the cargo hold. It turned out to be a rat with a magical item on him!
Meanwhile Zephus investigated the kitchen. The cook, a kobold that only cooked with rat, was irate at the intrusion and also at the Paladin’s steadfast refusal to eat the various rat-infused delicacies the cook had slaved over.
Up on deck, Iseri and Gargantuon were witness to a strange sight. An itinerant sailor drifted by on a small dinghy, whistling a lively tune in between puffs of his pipe. As he floated past, the sailor man shouted a greeting and tossed up a can of spinach to the grateful Trickster.
Soon after, a giant beast attacked the ship! Zephus noticed it out of one of the portholes, but even at top speed he couldn’t reach the thing before Iseri sent it to the bottom of the ocean with her spells.
While the ship anchored for a while to attend to some minor repairs, a couple of mermaids visited the ship. Iinitially they were fascinated by the mechanical cohort of Iseri, one Sprocket. He seemed immune to their charms, but one other onlooker was decidedly not. Kiba was watching them from a porthole on the second deck, and when the mermaids noticed his heavy breathing fogging up the window, they spooked and swam away.
They took up sail again and eventually reached an island spoken of in legend. A small force took a rowboat to the island, where they were set upon by a number of ghouls. The undead menaces were quickly dispatched, in large part thanks to Kiba and his barrage of arrows. Afterwards, they encountered a quartet of Nightwings. Sensing the holy power emanating from Zephus the Paladin, they decided to test the party. Two of them hung back by a chest while another two attacked the group.
The Nightwings were a powerful foe, but they underestimated the Dragonbusters and didn’t fight for keeps. Gargantuon and Iseri faced down one of the attacking pair, while Zephus held the other at bay so Kiba could fill it with arrows. The remaining two fled after their companions fell, fortunately leaving the treasure chest behind!
Returning to the ship and the high seas, the group was not out of the woods yet, so to speak. Another vessel appeared off of the horizon, and approached with fearsome speed. It was the ship belonging to a certain captain, friends of a beneficent pirate lord assassinated by Kiba earlier in his career. Out for vengeance, he set his crew upon the Dragonbusters while he himself made for the Ranger. They stood little chance against the excellent tactics displayed by the adventurers, however.
Zephus and Gargantuon charged to the enemy ship, murdering pirates left and right. Sprocket guarded the gangplank, effectively piercing pirates with his superior reach. Kiba provided range support, with Iseri wreaking havoc from the crow’s nest with her spells. Soon only the captain himself remained, but he would not retreat. He locked swords with Kiba in melee, and even after falling, was reenergized with a lightning bolt from the heavens! But no amount of divine intervention would save the hapless captain, as the impressive might of the combined Dragonbusters force ended his hope for revenge.
They finally reached the port city of City. Like any adventurers would, they rushed to the tavern to hear the legend of the tower and the ruined city. They learned from the knowledgeable barkeep that the town in question was called Dunholme, and an insane drow had slaughtered all the inhabitants for an unknown reason some 400 years past. Now there was an evil-looking tower there, spewing an ever-increasing darkness over the land. Lately the darkness had been growing faster, worrying some of the townsfolk.
The barkeep warned the group that it would be dangerous to go to Dunholme, but he saw that they were determined. He told them of two possible ways into the drow’s tower: they could attempt to sneak through the town proper, now the home of demons and drow, or they enter through the catacombs that run underneath a temple outside of town. Hoping to avoid as much trouble as possible, the Dragonbusters chose the catacombs.
But that is a story for another day…