The Stone-Hearted

52 Sognathos, Pass of 3820: The Ship of Night

Excerpt from The Tales of the Stonehearted

…As Dragor dragged himself on to the raft, minus a boot, the seriousness of their predicament descended upon the group. The water was flowing fast and as they raced down the waterway they could see only roughly carved walls either side of them, and had no idea how deep the water was. Jhornim took control of the rudder and everyone else positioned themselves on the raft, mostly for balance but also to try to see what was up ahead. In the inky blackness even their dwarven dark vision was not much use and they strained to make out what was in the distance. After a while they began to relax and take stock of their situation (and injuries from their recent encounter with the Derros) all the while racing down the dark waterway. They agreed to take the opportunity to rest and divided themselves up into a series of watches, quietly hoping they had time to recuperate before their next encounter.

Time passed quite uneventfully until suddenly Aeric heard something up in the distance. Realising what it was he attempted to wake those still sleeping and get everyone to the centre of the raft. By this time Brodria was at the rudder and as she peered into the darkness she could see the field of stalagmites and stalactites ahead, and called out to Jhornim and Dragor to push the raft in the right direction. Passing the first field of obstacles successfully they had little time to celebrate as more rock appeared in their path, but once again they narrowly avoided disaster and lurched forwards. Beginning to wonder if this was ever going to end they sailed around a sharp corner and into what seemed to be an impassable wall of rock but if the water was getting through then had to be able to somehow. Navigating that successfully they then left the rush of the rapids behind them and settled into what now seemed to be a calmer pace.

It was with some unease that Aeric become aware of what seemed to be a quiet ‘swishing’ sound behind their raft. Staring back into the dark he could not see what it was, and Ranina was similarly unable to determine what was back there, but nonetheless they knew something was following them in the water. Weapons at the ready they all watched closely, waiting for the inevitable attack from their unknown foe until suddenly the raft lurched as it was hit from underneath. Those standing in the middle of the raft managed to stabilise themselves but Dragor was thrown into the water, still clutching the pole he was using to steer the boat with. Rushing to help her fallen comrade Brodria raced to the side of the raft and reached out her hand, not taking any time to brace herself, and was promptly pulled into the water too. Expecting at any moment to be bitten by what they all now had realised was a giant eel Brodria hauled herself back on to the raft and readied her crossbow. Ranina took a chance and fired into the water, injuring the eel. Aeric knelt down and dragged Dragor back on the raft and they continued to travel down the waterway, bracing themselves for attack after attack by the eel. Eventually their luck failed and Jhornim fell into the water and, before he could recover, the eel clamped on to his midsection. Working frantically to pull him on to the raft as the rows of razor sharp teeth pierced his flesh, the group attempted to grab the pole he was still clinging on to and pull him about, straining against the added weight of the water creature. Dragor knelt by the side of the raft and stabilised himself before pulling Jhornim in. Brodria hit the eel with a crossbow bolt and Aeric hit it with a hammer but that did not inspire it to break off the pursuit.

After a while they became accustomed to the occasional knock from the eel, assuming at some point that it would get tired/bored, but it seemed very persistent. Once again they heard the all too familiar roar of rapids and realised that they were not only facing attacks from below, but would soon be facing danger above water too. As they raced towards the rocks Brodria steered the raft towards the narrowest of gaps but thanks to the constant harassment from the eel she miscalculated and the craft slammed into the stalagmites rearing out of the water. The blow threw both Ranina and Azgan into the water, and while she disappeared from sight he was hauled back on to the raft unconscious by Aeric. The rest of the group clung desperately to the tattered remains of the raft, now with a damaged rudder and no poles to steer with, spinning down the tunnel. Having shaken off the eel (who was hopefully not snacking on their missing comrade) the faint sound of metal on metal rang out of the darkness. They were all too familiar to Aeric as he realised a forge was somewhere up ahead, and the party readied themselves for what was inevitably to be another fight.

A long wharf loomed up ahead so Aeric launched rope at pylons and braced for impact, as everyone else briefly scanned for signs of life before lying down and gripping the raft as best they could. Jhornim carried/rolled the still unconscious Asgan off the raft, while Aeric and Dragor leapt off the raft and attacked the Derro working around the forge. Brodria remained on the raft, both to stay at a safe distance and also to watch for Ranina floating by. As they were unarmoured the Derro were picked off relatively easily, put at an unexpected disadvantage as their usually effective ‘complete darkness’ spell was ruined by the light of the forge. As one managed to dive into the water apparently unharmed, the team regrouped and began to plan their next step…



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