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Dastos stood tall and firm, one of the great feet of life. The four figures following the path of the pillar downwards stepped carefully, clearly on edge. The again, who would not be, walking into this floating graveyard?
Lygius held up his hand, signalling for the others to halt. They did so, without a sound. He squinted into the darkness, looking for something. Anything.
‘Are you sure about this ‘Suckling Worm’?’ asked Frandle, over his shoulder.
‘Hush,’ Lygius replied, sharply. ‘Of course I am. Haven’t you heard the stories?’
‘I’ve heard plenty of stories,’ whispered Frandle. ‘I once heard that you were hung like an orc…’
The chase would be fun if getting away was his only option for continuing his life, or so Melerai thought. He clutched a bundle wrapped in the scraps of a curtain close to his chest, trying to hide its bulk at the same time as attempting to look inconspicuous. He had only to reach the Rat’s Nest to start the second part of the agreed assignment.
He walked close to the buildings, trying to hide in what little shadows there were, thanks to the evenly spaced street lamps. In the distance, he heard the sounds of alarm and cursed silently… the theft had been discovered way too soon. And he would need a very good excuse to be about so late in the streets of Upside if any of the district’s guardsmen caught him. Not to mention the bundle that now seemed to have a mind of its own and was trying to be as cumbersome as possible.
He ducked behind a hedge when his sensitive ears picked up the sound of boots. A few seconds later, a patrol trotted by, with the leader stating orders in a clear, yet relatively quiet voice. Elvish. Melerai chanced a quick look at the guards and saw the colours of the Seawillows’ personal guard. He gritted his teeth in anger. His employer had told him that Gretchen VanFleet and her missing husband’s family were not on good terms. After all the time he had spent posing as a Black Crown student, he would be damned if his mission failed because of misinformation. He waited for a few moments until he was sure that another patrol would not catch him.
Time crawled past as the thief made his way through Upside’s streets, avoiding watchmen as best as he could, and with obvious success, for he reached the winding alleys of the Rat’s Nest. He breathed easier, but he did not lower his guard. It was easier to hide here, but it was also easy to get lost. Melerai was not a native of these parts, and the time he had spent memorizing his route now did not feel sufficient.
He knew about stealing as much as he knew about magic, so his services were expensive and the jobs were always unique, but this one was the sting that would set him up for life. Not that this would be the last assignment he took, but with this kind of money he would have the retirement option available at any point in his future.
He heard a bell strike, then another, and then the rhythm grew discordant. All the skulking around had delayed him. Melerai quickened his steps, now passing himself as a late-night stroller just out from one of the parties that apparently never stopped in this part of the city. He finally reached Players’ Court, deserted at this time of night. This part of the job was easy; break into the castle with the clock and wait for a door to open when the bell struck the thirteenth hour.
There were few rumours about the odd clock face, and the reasons for it having a thirteenth hour, which the hands only marked on winter solstice, went from ridiculous to outrageous. It was nearly time. Melerai repressed the urge to hum as he picked the lock with ease, and nobody stopped him as he advanced through the building’s corridors. He heard the last bell strike at the same time he reached his destination. The sound of sliding wood came from behind a tapestry, and the thief did not waste a second to cross the hidden entrance. But he stopped at the base of a winding stair, feeling a foreboding tingle at the back of his neck.
He climbed cautiously, his unease growing exponentially. He was even imagining that his trophy was growing warm. He reached a chamber covered with runes from floor to ceiling, and he listened to his instincts, saying the words that would reveal the presence of magic… and he almost fainted with the strength of the enchantments upon this room. His mind filled with images of doom and certain death.
He regained focus as a drowning man breaks the water’s surface. Melerai gasped for air and climbed down, breaking a contract for the first time in his life. Come next morning, he would return the object he had stolen to its rightful owners, or custodians. He was not an ignorant burglar and had recognized what his spell had revealed. He would rather lose his freedom than his soul.
Rumours and Legends
The sea is not only a source of wealth in Stormhaven, but also the cradle of more tales, legends and myths than a bard will be able to learn in a lifetime. Most are the wild imaginings of drunken sailors but there are some with a core of truth behind them, however twisted and rearranged by each retelling.
The Suckling Worm
Legend says that a dragon lives in the depths below Sailor’s Sleep, coiled around the base of the pillar Dastos, growing fat on the corpses of sailors laid to rest there. According to popular myth, the dragon knows all the secrets of Stormhaven, the dead whispering them to him as they rot in his gullet. So far, no one has had the courage to find out if the legend is true.
The Sunrise Runner
The Sunrise Runner is a ghostly caravel that haunts the shipping lanes near Stormhaven. Centuries ago, the Sunrise Runner was a privateer sponsored by Stormhaven’s government. The scourge of the shipping lanes, so fast that no merchant could escape it and no warship touch it. In fact, the ship was so successful that a coalition of nations threatened to declare war on Stormhaven if they did not withdraw their support. Fearful, the Guild Parliament did more than that, turning their own fleet’s catapults against the Sunrise Runner. But the ship would not rest easy.
Merely sighting the Sunrise Runner is considered a grave omen by Stormhaven sailors, foretelling a death in the near future. Worse still are those occasions when the ghostly vessel gives chase to a ship; superstition holds that those ships overtaken by the Sunrise Runner are cursed to sink within a year and a day. It’s said that if a ship can outrace the Sunrise Runner for one week’s time, the ghost ship will finally rest, but only after leading the victor to a hidden treasure.
A good day’s sailing to the east of Stormhaven is the Abscess, an all-consuming whirlpool connected to both the Elemental Plane of Water and the lower planes. The Abscess is a blot of corruption on the world, the air ripped by screams and heavy with sulphur, the boiling water wreathed in flames and thick with clots of pus belched up from the stygian pits.
The Abscess is home to a wide variety of monsters, most of them twisted by its foul waters. Sharks and undead infest the Abscess, and fiendish water and fire elementals are all-too-common. There are also troubling rumours about a kraken with demon blood lurking in the area. The captain of the only vessel to survive an encounter with the beast described it as ‘midnight given form… the hand of the devil himself.’
VanFleet’s Watery Servant
Conjuration (creation) [water]
Level: Drd 4, Sor/Wiz 4, Water 4
Components: V, S, F
Casting Time: 1 full round
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target: Creatures in a 30 ft. radius
Duration: 1 round/level (D)
Saving Throw: Fortitude negates
Spell Resistance: Yes
A modified form of summon monster, VanFleet’s watery servant draws on the body’s moisture to create a water mephit or small water elemental. The target of the spell, which can be you or any creature you designate within the spell’s radius, suffers 1d8+1 points per level of damage (up to +20) as moisture is pulled from the targets’ bodies. You can distribute the damage among all the targets inside the area, and they can resist the effect with a Fortitude save, but the spell cannot extract more hit points than each creature has remaining. Any target reduced to 0 hit points is instantly slain. The extracted moisture immediately coalesces into a water mephit or small water elemental (your choice) with hit points equal to the damage inflicted. The summoned creature appears where you designate and acts immediately on your turn. It attacks to the best of its ability and can be directed to perform other actions.
At the end of the spell’s duration, the mephit or elemental is absorbed into your body, its remaining hit points healing your wounds. Hit points in excess of your normal maximum are wasted. If the creature is slain or dispelled before the end of the spell’s duration, it is not absorbed.
Focus: A small piece of towel, sponge or other absorbent material.
Level: Drd 2, Sor/Wiz 2, Fire 2
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Medium (100 ft. +10 ft./level)
Area: Water in a volume up to 5 ft. x 5 ft. x 5 ft./level
Duration: 1d4+1 rounds
Saving Throw: See text
Spell Resistance: See text
You make a small body of water as combustible as lantern oil. Application of an open flame will cause it to burn with the intensity of alchemist’s fire, inflicting 1d6 points of damage to all creatures in the area for 2 rounds. If used against a creature formed entirely of water, like a water elemental, you must first defeat its Spell Resistance (if any) and it is allowed a Fortitude save to negate the effect. If the saving throw fails, the creature loses its immunity to fire and can be ignited by a successful touch attack with an open flame, or by any other fire effect. If thus ignited, the creature erupts in a fiery conflagration, suffering 1d6 points of initial fire damage per caster level (maximum of 10d6). Any creature within a 20 feet radius suffers the same damage, but can halve it with a successful Reflex save. If the target creature survives its initial explosion, it suffers 1d6 points of fire damage each round thereafter up to the spell’s duration.
Material Components: A small bit of cotton soaked in lantern oil, which is consumed in the casting.
Confirmed Cynic (General)
You have been around long enough to know that the only person with your best interests at heart is you.
Benefit: You receive a +2 bonus to Will saves against enchantments and a +2 bonus to Sense Motive checks.
Energy Preservation (Metamagic)
Your fire and electricity-based spells are unchanged when cast underwater.
Benefit: Spells with the fire or electricity descriptor that are enhanced with Energy Preservation work normally when cast underwater (Seas of Blood, page 97). In addition, fires started by a spell enhanced with this feat are more stubborn, requiring double the normal amount of time to extinguish. For example, objects ignited by a burning hands spell require two full-round actions to extinguish, rather than one. Preparing a spell with the Energy Preservation feat requires a slot one higher than the spell’s actual level.
New Magic Items
Only a few of these rare magical weapons are known to exist, each a hardened, studded, red leather gauntlet enchanted to provide a +2 bonus to attack and damage. Additionally, three times per day the fingers of an octopus gauntlet can be commanded to join and extend to a length of 10 feet, forming a tentacle that functions in combat exactly as a +2 spiked chain, but does not require the wielder to have the Exotic Weapon Proficiency (spiked chain) feat. The tentacle remains for 10 rounds and can be used to deliver touch spells instead of dealing normal damage.
Caster Level: 15th; Prerequisites: Craft Magic Arms and Armour, polymorph any object; Market Price: 18,302 gp.
Forged by the hand of Artimur Spence, the greatest of all shark hunters, the handle of this harpoon (shortspear) is fashioned of adamantine, the blade a magically-strengthened tooth wrenched from a dire shark’s jaws. The blade is covered in the flowing runes of an obscure offshoot of Aquan that glow a brilliant sapphire blue when immersed in water, giving off radiance equivalent to a light spell. Fathom is a +3 shortspear, +5 against creatures with the aquatic or water subtype, with several additional powers.
Fathom allows its wielder to water walk once per day, as the spell cast by a 10th level wizard. In addition, the wielder is affected as if by a breathe water spell as long as Fathom is held. Finally, the wielder can cast the spell hold monster once each day (DC 17). Fathom is an intelligent weapon (Int 14, Wis 16, Cha 17, AL CG) with the ability to speak Aquan.
The Black Spot
The gods of the sea play cruelly with sailors like children with their toys, but will not suffer others to do so. Among their many vengeances, perhaps none is more feared than the legendary artefact the Black Spot. The Black Spot appears as a piece of cracked and weathered parchment folded in quarters that, when opened, reveals a fist sized spot of ink as blue-black as the bottom of the sea.
No scholar can claim to know which god created the Black Spot, if indeed any of them did. Nor do they know how it selects its victims, beyond the fact that all have, in some way, wronged a sailor, whether through lying, cheating or violence. What are welldocumented, however, are the artefact’s insidious powers and the nature of the doom it inflicts on its victims.
First, the victim of the Black Spot is cursed, as by the spell bestow curse, suffering a -6 enhancement penalty to all attack rolls, saving throws, ability checks and skills checks made against, or relating to, the sea, sailors, or creatures and spells with the water or aquatic subtype. Second, the effects (damage, duration, etc.) of spells or spell-like abilities of the water descriptor are doubled against the victim, unless they are beneficial, such as breathe water, in which case they are halved. Finally, all sailors, as well as creatures with the subtypes aquatic or water, react to the target as if affected by emotion spell, shifting their attitude to the next less favourable reaction.
Disposing of the Black Spot is not as simple as destroying or throwing away the parchment. Regardless of the means used to dispose of it, the Black Spot will always return to the victim, generally choosing an awkward time, such as falling out of a knapsack during delicate negotiations with a pirate king, to make its presence felt. The only way to be rid of its curse is to perform a quest or service as directed by a high level (17+) cleric of a sea god. The only other known method of removing the Black Spot is with the application of a wish or miracle, though a sea druid (see page 6 of Seas of Blood) or cleric of a sea god will never cast these spells for such a purpose.