Hot Springs Island

Hot Springs Island: Session 6, The Forge

Cast for this session:

  • Ruber Valis, elementalist
  • Hootford Jr., guard and associate of Ruber
  • Rickard Astley, healer (cutter?)

The party awakened to the sun rising above the misty jungle below. They were encamped on the edge of a grassy field partway up the mountainside.1HS-21-03 Across the field lay the Egg and a flock of horned beasts who gazed at them warily while chewing their morning cud.

During the previous evening Ruber and Hootford had managed to properly identify the items that they had found during the Topaz Spree:

  • Ruber has the Blasted Wand, which works the same as the WWNWWN Worlds Without Number (2021), a ruleset (and more) by Kevin Crawford spell The Howl of Light, except that it forms a column extending from the end of the wand. Each time it is used some of the end of the wand is burned off; roll a 1D4 and on a 1, the wand is destroyed.
  • Hootford has the Shield of Sunrise which can be activated to emit a blast of light, blinding anyone looking towards it for 1D4 rounds (reflex save to avoid). It is recharged by being exposed to light from a sunrise.

The party decided to continue to move inland and up towards the volcano’s peak (Ruber: “shall we summit this mountain?”), and set off through the early morning sunlight.

Further up the mountain,2HS-17-03 the jungle parted to reveal a bubbling pool of magma, surrounded by red-gold plants shimmering in the reflected heat. Beyond the red-hot pool was a cave going deep into the volcanic cliff-face. The plants around the pool are each topped by puffy fronds like those of pampas grass or toi-toi. Hootford immediately approached the plants to collect some for his master, but as soon as he disturbed them, he was showered by a cloud of pollen. He immediately found himself dizzy and stumbled toward the magma, only to be stopped quickly by Rickard.

Across the other side of the pool, a woman erupted from the cave in the cliff. She drew her bow on the run and loosed an arrow back towards the cave entrance, from which emerged two large scruffy-looking birds with large beaks. One of them swooped at her and managed to cut her arm with vicious-looking claws.

Rickard sprung into action, throwing his scalpel at the nearest bird. The throw went wide and the scalpel embedded itself in the dirt at its feet. In response the bird flew towards him, battering him with its filthy wings as it raked and bit at his unprotected flesh.

Ruber began to sing as Hootford moved to shield him. Ruber forcibly exerted his will over the other bird, entering its mind and impelling it to fly to him and coat its talons in one of his fast-acting poisons.

Now unarmed, Rickard ran to fetch grab his knife from the soil, as the bird inflicted a deep wound on his shoulder. It shook its filthy wings and from within the feathers of the bird a shower of writhing maggots dropped onto the fresh injury. Some of the maggots fell directly into the wound and began to bury themselves into Rickard’s flesh.

Rickard struck back with his knife, cutting the horrible bird’s horrible throat, and it crashed to the ground. Blood pooled around it and the wriggling maggots started to dig into the bloody soil.

The main threat removed, bird-Ruber flew into the cave to check for any remaining enemies. After finding the cave clear, he flew high above the magma pool, licked the poison from the bird’s talons, and experienced first-hand the ordeal of pitching head-first into molten rock. The bird’s feathers sizzled and burned as the fat maggots roasted and popped upon the red-hot surface.

With the fighting over, the woman introduced herself: she was Joni, a ranger who had come to the island looking for her brother. She had also signed up with the crew of Jack the Jeweller to look for the fabled Forge of the island, and was out in the jungle searching by herself, as she thought that Jack’s current plan of scouring the Elven city would be fruitless: “the sooner we find the forge, the sooner I can get Jack to help me find my brother”.

She spoke fast and excitedly; she believed she had located the Forge in the cave and was eager to return to Jack to tell him the good news. Thanking the party for their assistance, she warned Rickard to seek medical attention quickly or the maggots could eventually be deadly.

Rickard used his medical experience to successfully fish out the maggots one-by-one from his wound. Joni was impressed by the skill with which he removed the infestation and bade them farewell, saying that she would meet them back at Captain Rand’s ship.

The cave appeared to be constructed by hand, hewn from the volcanic rock. Channels cut into the walls and floor guided molten lava from the inside of the mountain to the pool of magma outside, and in the intense heat Hootford removed his helmet, revealing an astonishingly handsome face.

At the end of the tunnel they found what appeared to be a large forge of Elven construction, decorated with symbols of fire and the burning sun. Beneath the forge was a contraption of some kind and Ruber recognized that it was designed to store an elemental core of some kind — probably that of a fire elemental. It was at this point that he also realized the cold crystal fragments he had in his satchel were those of an ice elemental, and — given time — it would be possible to “reincarnate” the elemental core.

However, the immediate problem was to obtain a fire elemental core. Ruber consulted his notes upon the subject and found that fire elementals were attracted not just to fire but to accumulations of combustible materials. His notebook recorded that a large cloud of flour could be enough to draw one’s attention. Between the three of them, they hatched a plan…

The noon sun beat down upon Rickard, sweat streaming down his cheeks from beneath his bird-beaked doctor’s mask — his only protection from the clouds of soporific pollen that now surrounded him. Dancing and twisting in a bizarre manner, both of his arms grasped large bunches of the fluffy-topped plant. He waved them through the air, casting showers of white dust in every direction.

From deep within the cave came the sonorous sounds of Hootford’s voice. His deep throat-singing echoed and resonated around the clearing. Rickard’s crazed dancing grew to a fever pitch as Ruber chanted arcane incantations into the air, and from the fringe of the jungle emerged two red impish creatures, beating their wings in the hot air.

“See, I told you! Look! It’s going to explode!” one screeched to the other. Rickard stopped his dancing as he ran from the area, and Ruber finished his chanting. He raised his arms, sparks fizzing from his fingertips (Elemental Sparks), and with a woosh the cloud of dust erupted into an immense fireball.

The two imps were driven to the brink of ecstasy by this display, their eyes seemingly bursting into flame. “LET’S FIGHT!” one screamed, the other shouting “ONE ON ONE, LET’S GO RIGHT NOW!”

Rickard began to step forward, but Ruber motioned him to stay still, and then raised his other hand. A powerful blast of water (Beckoned Deluge) jetted into the nearest imp, who screeched and collapsed in a damp pile on the ground. Rickard rushed up and slit the throat of the drowned imp, its body melting and fading into thin air. From the centre of its body a glowing elemental core fell to the soil.

The other imp shouted “Cheating! You’re cheating! You’ve killed him!” and, its enthusiasm for the fight immediately quenched, turned and sped off as fast as it could flap his wings. Ruber sprinted as fast as he could toward the edge of the clearing, casting another blast of water after the second imp and sending him crashing into a nearby tree.

Hootford now emerged from the cave at a full sprint, and upon reaching the edge of the clearing attempted a last-ditch throw with his dagger, which flew out of his hand as if launched from a crossbow and impaled the imp to the tree. With a thud, another elemental core landed up the jungle floor.

The party returned to the cave with their new goodies and planted them in the contraption below the forge. It began to glow internally with eerie flames of elemental fire.

Having confirmed that they can activate the forge, and so Anvil will be able to use it to construct items, they recollect the cores and begin the long journey to return to Hot Springs City, there to meet the ship and regroup with Jack and Captain Rand.

On the way back down the mountain they passed a large statue of a seven-headed dragon.3HS-17-01 It seemed to have an infestation of the insects that they had previously seen,4I rolled #4 on the Vyderac table! so they quickly passed it by. Rickard took them past the blue tower on the extinct volcano that he had noticed previously,5HS-15-02 and they found that it was positioned very high above the jungle floor on a rocky outcropping. If they wanted to scale the rock up to the tower they would need to return with equipment or magical means of transportation.

Finally, they returned to the Elven city and made a short detour to the Broken Quarter to stash some of their treasures in an old mud-brick tower. At the bottom of the central stairs they found Joni waiting for them. She used her horn to signal the ship and they returned to it upon the ship’s boat.

Safely back aboard the ship they reported back to Captain Rand. Rickard used one large chunk of the topaz they had collected to pay off his Martel Company debts for the next week.

They reported to Jack that they had located the forge. Joni recounted to the others that Rickard was a skilled healer and would be able to help them in future.

Captain Rand also indicated that the group he had mentioned last time they had seen him — the ones who had been collecting notes and mapping the island — had returned to the ship, and pointed out Zilbee, a small green goblin woman.

After a brief discussion about creatures and plants that they had found upon the island, Zilbee agreed to share with them the collection of notes that she and Matthias (a zoologist) had been working on: tentatively entitled A Field Guide to Hot Springs Island.

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