With their minds set to the task in slaying the orcish pirates and freeing their unfortunate slaves, the party and the crew of “Satroms Bellow” decide on a plan; Karragas advises them that he shall sail his ship as close as he can to the galley and seek to mount a boarding action, whilst the missile armed rain arrows and bolts at the orcs from the cover of the pavise’ he can have erected on the bow of the ship; he has done this sort of thing before and he and his crew are adept at naval ambushes against distracted foes. As the ship moves out, the party notice a couple of large ripples in the water; one is what appears to be large saltwater crocodile shadowing their vessel, and the other is a much larger current of water that seems to be caused by nothing visible.All take their positions, with Czerlai, Cassio of Padiha, Bucephala Clangula, Abbas Jalil, szletko and Taturii Asamakiiro all take cover behind the large shields erected and wait as their ship rounds the tip of the bay and moves onwards towards the unsuspecting galley, which surprisingly does not detect their approach, intent as its crew are upon their captain and shipmates on the beach. Within 200 metres however this changes as one of the human villains aboard the galley sees them, and though an arrow fired kills him, the alarm is raised.
The volleys of arrow and bolt fire from the party’s ship is withering and the orcs start dying, and though a number of them are able to grab their bows and arrows and return fire, the pavise shields are sufficient for the party to evade any injury. The orcs cannot even bring their loaded ballista to bear upon the oncoming ship as a sublime shot from Taturii’s longbow has pinned one of their number to the large weapon and the orcs cannot remove him in time. Their ship bears down upon the galley which is in no position to evade, and when the ships meet, a load crash is heard as a crow (boarding plank with a pair of large spikes for purchase) dig into the galley and the now armoured and armed Karragas roars his mighty fury and charges aboard, with Abbas and Taturii just ahead of his imposing bulk. The battle is over quickly, for the orcs are unprepared and many unable to pick up their shields to offer better defence. Some orcs leap over the side to the uncertainty of the waters, compared to the certainty of death at the hands of their ferocious attackers.
All who board are able to wet their weapons on orcish blood by the end of the short and vicious battle. Meanwhile, the orcs on the beach and in the 2 rowboats are having other problems, with the boated orcs capsized by the sudden appearance of the crocodile, and the captain and his best (a significant cut above the galley orcs as it turns out) are attacked by a roiling horde of Ghouls from the trees, with the chilling and terrifying cries of the damned beings reaching out to all who listen. At this point, the large ripple seen earlier in the water surges from the surf and waves as a huge Undine and gathers up the captives on the beach and plucks them from the fury of the Ghouls assault, bearing them back into the sea and carrying them, heads above water, towards the ships. The Orcish captain and his best troops fight with surprising skill and bravery, but few can stand against a horde of Ghouls and in time they are all taken alive, poisoned as they are by the venom of the Ghouls bites. The orcs are born away to an uncertain fate within the ruins (uncertain in only how death comes to them, not if).
The presence of several of the mysterious humans seen assisting the orcs on the galley is missed however, as these few are not seen or found despite diligent searching. What does occur is the freeing of the galley slaves by Czerlai during his search, whilst Cassio locates a large chest full of varied coins and treasures at the stern of the ship. Also during this, Bucephala makes the acquaintance of one Adileii Qamasque, the leader and most senior of the captives now deposited upon the deck of the Satroms Bellow. The nobleman informs Bucephala and the others that he, his family and surviving retainers were abducted from their estate to the west of the Imperial Capital some 10 days or so previously by mysterious men and women, who all seemed to be worshippers of the malevolent Night Goddess Neraka and most definitely cohorts to orcs. He owes the life of he, his family, and his retainers to the party’s timely intervention. He suspects these dark hearted people to be involved in a plot against his beloved Empire, given that he is involved in outfitting and equipping the creation of what seem to be new Imperial Legions (something not seen for generations).
With the mystery of the missing humans ongoing (who almost certainly seem to be of the ilk of Adileii’s original kidnappers), the freeing of the galley slaves and the movement of the 2 ships back to the original harbour near the ruined temple of Sensu takes up the next few hours, and with evening approaching, the party are beckoned ashore to the temple by the ragged figure of Selii. They are accompanied by the Quoriente and his wife as they seek spiritual refreshment from any form of Sensu temple. In the temple, they can hear and see the repairs of their ship (using parts and wood from the galley) progressing, but they are more interested to hear that Selii advises them that someone wants to talk to them. She leads them to one of the small pools in the temple which is fed and linked to the sea by a canal, and as they approach it, the large current surges up the canal, and into the pool, roaring up into a large swirling column of water for moments before it shrinks back and turns into the supernaturally beautiful form of a Nereid, a spirit of the Oceans (and often a servant to Sensu). The figure is quite naked and beyond flawless, and advises them all that she is there on behalf of her divine mistress, Sensu.
They are informed by the spirit that they have been favoured by Sensu for previous kind acts they have carried out previously, and that she and other deities (both good and bad) watch their progress with various levels of interest. This accounts for why Loksan and Ba’Ath may have followed the party, especially as the party are off to meet with the beyond mighty Varrax Pyrofer, also bearing missives from the Armavine Empire for her. At this point the Nymph advises Szletko that he has been cursed with poor fortune by the Trickster (who has a notorious mean streak at times), and though neither Sensu nor Ba’Ath could have it lifted, at least it wasn’t as bad as Loksan could (and would) have made it. She advises the brave (if headstrong) Altai that the next time Szletko meets the Trickster may settle the matter, but to be EXTREMELY careful in such a meeting.
The party are also give some useful information, the first being that they have been observed by and known to the source of all Evil Mowta ever since they crossed swords (as it were) with one of his foremost agents in Menetia many months previously; Cruella Vullen. The party were shrewd and fortunate to escape the Autocracy in time, for her revenge was close to fruition on them. The interest of Sensu (and the Gods Peace) have stopped any more determined trouble from the Lord of Hell, but his agents mean them ill. She advises that she has aided the party several times in a small way, by gifts to Bucephala like The Lady’s Grace and the cloaks the Altai wear (The Lady’s Grace) plus other small things not immediately noticeable, and she also gives the party one last gift, [:the-gracious-mirror]].
Before leaving, the Nereid answers one last question from the group about what advice for the Wyrm Peaks she has; she advises them that they must trust only themselves and any they meet in the towns and villages of the peaks, for all outside the settlements are not to be trusted. They also will know one of their 2 guides by the fact that he is the last thing they may have expected to encounter helping them and that they shall know what she means when they meet him. Also, as a last gift to Bucephala, the party are told that their late comrade Ketael Minal is at peace and in Heaven, though somewhere in the wilds of Northern Menetia, something of him lives on.
At this, the spirit disperses into a body of water again and disappears back into the pool and then the sea. The Quoriente and his wife meanwhile have seen nor heard any of this, being only for the party’s eyes. They then decide to spend the night and then in the morning go and see the skeleton of the huge dragon within the city ruins.
This they do, and again the sight is shocking and more than a little terrifying for all, even the ones who have seen it before. On the way back though they are shadowed and stalked by hordes of Ghouls (some Orcish it seems) who howl and jeer at them, though the brightness of the sun overhead halts any serious attempts by the foul monsters at real attack, hurt as they are by the power of Nerukata’s brilliance overhead.
They are advised by Karragas that repairs are finished and that they can depart on the next tide, making it across the 70 or so kilometres of sea to their destination of The Wyrm Peaks. This they do towing the galley behind them, bidding farewell to the mad hermit woman Selii and the cursed and benighted ruins of Velicca. As they approach the fjord that leads to the township, they see 2 small fishing boats checking traps for catches at the mouth of the inlet, and as one departs hastily upstream (no doubt to warn of strangers), the other waits. The 4 fisherfolk aboard it are glad to hear that the newcomers interest is peaceable and may involve trade too, so they are escorted up the steep sided fjord, until around a curve of the valley they first lay eyes upon the unusual and memorable sight of Cold Eye Water…