Serpent's Skull

My Travels with the Slayer Volume 5 - Shipwrecked Entry 5

My Travels with the Slayer Volume 5 – Shipwrecked

I almost saw the moment that Snorri has sought for four years now. His death had nearly found him on a spirit haunted ship, had it not been for the actions of our companions he would have fallen at last. I grimaced when I saw Jast use his magic to heal the grievous wounds the Slayer had taken for one never heals a slayer in a fight. They feel as if it robs them of their doom and makes them angry than a mother bear, I saw him once knock a priest out for doing that very thing in a fight. But I must say I felt relief at their actions, for without the Slayer I doubt any of us will escape this island. Later that night as we sat by the fire something strange occurred, something I can’t quite place my finger on. But I was talking with the Slayer one moment then the next I was by the fire, I wasn’t as cold anymore and all the others seemed to be staring at me mouths agape weapons drawn. They explained that I had leaped from the middle of the fire as if freed from the realms of hell itself. I must say I am beginning to think more and more that I was indeed dead but then how am I alive? I think I found the answer though for when I made my way to the Slayer I saw a look of shame on his face I had never seen before. He met me halfway a and slapped one of his meaty paws into my leg and stomach and asked how I felt. It was if he was trying to reassure himself that I was real and not something else. Seemingly satisfied he turned away from me to stare into the forest and I brought up his near death and he shook his hairy head and rumbled out “Nay Manling. I won’t find me doom on this island; neither shall you or any others. I won’t give it that satisfaction.” With that he stamped off to be alone with his thoughts and one last dark look thrown at the small chest we were hired to carry. I left him be for I have rarely seen him in such a mood and on those times I learned it was best to let him be. Instead I moved over to investigate the chest, I looked it over inside and out and it was nothing more than a broken sword on a velvet case. Something is up though, the Slayer would never turn down a chance a good doom but somehow he is right. I can’t tell how but at the time I knew he wouldn’t fall on this island, even if it meant bending some of his oaths as a Slayer. But how we will we get off this island? Every ship we have found has been smashed to kindling and unless we want to try and build our own I can’t see any time in the near future we will find freedom from this place of death.
My Travels with the Slayer Volume 5 – Shipwrecked Entry 4
Well the strangest of the strangest has occurred on the island of would be death thus far. There is a belief among the others that I may be dead or dying or something in-between. How can that be I wonder, I mean I don’t feel dead. But then what would being dead feel like I wonder. Is it is possible that my oath to the slayer has locked with him even in death? Either way this is not something I care to dwell on for I have faith that the Slayer will solve whatever issue has arisen, he always has in the past and all I can do is trust in him. Our travels on the island saw us facing yet more monstrous creatures of this hellish place, Wasps the size of horses attacked us but we quickly saw them off and collected a number of herbs which would help our friends. From there we lugged through the forest to another boat this one ruined as the others and this time the Slayer found the fast way down as the floor boards gave way under him and dropped him into the darkened hold. We discovered that some of the ugliest mermaids known to man, and if that is what their entire race look like then I question the stories of so many sailor’s. Either way we ended up freeing the creatures into the ocean and I can’t help but wonder if we have done a service for good or for ill? Both way what is done is done I suppose and that night by the fire some revelations came clear to me. As we sat near the fire some people talking I found that Kev had even more venomous words for the Slayer and I asked him what he did to make her hate him so much. I of course got the typical answer “Let it go manling.” But as I thought about I realized it was not him she hated but what he represented. Dwarf communities don’t have prisons or jails because crime is virtually unheard of, if someone has wronged another they go before the king and he makes judgment and that is it both parties accept it and move on. Oh sure grudges can be held for centuries and there are some legendary tales of such grudges through history but again this is not crime it is simply a way of life for them. When a dwarf commits an act that is beyond even the king to rule on then there is the Cultist Slayericus where a dwarf may take the crest. I have heard of few of these and in our travels we have only encountered a small handful of them but in truth they are criminals of a sort in dwarf society. How would we treat one of our condemned to death? We would gather to watch them and jeer and throw fruit or rocks and vile insults. So this is really no different I guess, and if I had to wake every morning to stare upon the constant reminder that even a race as noble as hers can fall then perhaps I too would be angry. I wonder if that angry will allow her to stay with the Slayer for much longer or not, either way I am sure she prays for his death as much as he does. At least we haven’t the conflict we had when in previous years we traveled with other Slayers. Those times were brief but filled with great fist fights, the doom seek dwarfs can’t travel together for long before they start to accuse the other of cheating them of their doom or getting in the way. I still recall the time we traveled with Leatherbeard, a slayer most bizarre even for the cult. He wore a full leather face mask that was crafted to resemble a plaited beard which hung to his belly and rose up above his head to make the telltale crest of the slayer cult. I never did figure out why he wore this strange mask but I have learned when it comes to the Slayers it is best not to ask pointed questions. However back to the tale, we were traveling through the mountains just north of Lastwall when we were set upon by a band of orcs and a massive hill giant. Snorri yelled out it was his at the same time that Leatherbeard set off for it, the two quickly fell into arguing over who saw it first and fell into a fist fight. The Caravan guards ended up slaying the giant and leaving both Slayers blaming the other for cheating them of their doom, thankfully we parted ways not long after that incident. I often wonder what has occurred to the various Slayers we have met along the way, did they find their doom? Have they found the peace their trouble souls so desire? Or are they yet seeking it as Snorri does?
My Travels with the Slayer Volume 5 - Shipwrecked Entry 3

As it always seems to around here the day started off with rain, and more rain throughout the heavy muggy wet slog through the jungle. At least the infernal biting insects were kept at bay which was small comfort, by midday we had neared the coast and decided to move along it for easier travel. As the sun fell we noticed that the water around the island was glowing a soft green color, as our travel took us nearer the shore I decided to check on this strange occurrence and I wish I had not. For in the water I saw a face form of a human woman and she seemed to beacon me towards here which I thankfully didn’t and I quickly let the others know. The Slayer promptly stomped to the water’s edge and challenged the thing and when that met with no success he spit into the water declared it a coward and moved off. The others discussed all we knew so far and it quickly started to make sense to that the island was maybe a prison of sorts and the water was the warden. Surely no ship had thus far gotten close to landing and in tack and well who knows what would happen if you tried to swim through that green glow? Either way we pressed on and found a wrecked ship that we figured could be reached easily enough by our row boat we carried, so once more we rigged up a rope and with everyone’s help lowered it over the cliff to the water below. With some quick climbing five us climbed in and both the Slayer and Kev took to the oars which very quickly proved a bad idea. The two could not work together and we quickly found ourselves moving in a circle, with a grunt of annoyance Snorri shoved Kev away and snatched up both oars and retorted “Row like that and we will all be graybeards a fore we reach that ship”.

With that said he powered us through the rough surf with such speed that our storm wizard fell on his butt and had to hang on. Once we reached the small rocky island the ship had smashed itself upon we clambered out and pulled the boat up and had to empty a large amount of water out as it was leaking badly and would never survive a longer trip. As I helped kev flip the boat over I heard Kalypso pose the question if something could live on the island which I wish she hadn’t. For no quicker had she voiced that concern then snorri was rapping his ax on the rock yelling out Dinner for all to hear. The others were alarmed by his actions and I had to remind myself they have not traveled with a Slayer before a I have. When there is a chance for danger they will leap in wholeheartedly if you don’t know how to direct them and thank the gods I have learned a few ways to do just that. But these others have not and as of now I doubt Snorri would risk a hair on his beard to save any of them as he views them as craven or cowardly. And sure enough the island did indeed have owners and they turned out to be massive lizards of a short, and with his usual zeal the Slayer rushed in and began to kill. The battle was quick and ended with both Snorri and Kev bearing wounds and I noticed the Slayer was sweating as if ill, maybe the lizard’s bites carried a sort of poison? Either way he was not affected long by the affliction and after a quick search we were back on land and trekking along more. Sure enough more conflict was not far off for during his watch Snorri found our rather pugnacious gnome bard loading his pack with food and water and declaring he was leaving with what he earned. Had I been awake I could have warned the gnome to take the Slayers offer and leave without complaint but he didn’t and earned a punch to the face that saw him seeing starts during the day. If there is one thing the Slayer despises more than a coward it is a thief and here he in his eyes saw one.

The others quickly woke and tried to handle the situation which only devolved into a more a mess than before what with Calypso saying a goat told her that no did cannibals’ live on the island but a Blood God did as well which we were visited by the next night supposedly when it dropped a blood drained goat on our fire. But to track back a bit our erstwhile would be thief was given food and fled camp right into the slayer who was not informed of this plan so he took the man down once more and took back the food and sent him running into the jungle. The others were angry about this but as I tried to explain the Slayer didn’t know we gave the food to the gnome so he was acting in the groups best interest, and if they were smart they would try to work with him as well because I know he wants off this island more than anything. Whatever we carry in that damn chest is something evil and I fear it is affecting some of our traveling companions is trying to work some evil on the Slayer for I have found him more than once talking as if to a voice only he can hear. Even word of a possible Blood God on the island did little to cheer him up and raise him from the foul mood he was in. At least on the next wreck we found he was able to release some of his anger upon the giant grabs that lived there and we would at least something other than biscuits and salted fish for dinner that night. As we ate I pondered a few things I had not thought of in sometime, in the time I have traveled with the Slayer we have encountered only a few others of his cult. In each case they never seemed too particular about their doom and from what I little I learned most of their cult don’t survive beyond a year or so but here Snorri is going on at least four years. The words of the dwarf Slayer Leatherbeard still stick with me “Yer to durned choosey of yer doom Gunderlock, a doom is a doom.” Those words nearly led a brawl with the Slayer and I still fine myself questioning why? What did he do that was so bad only the greatest of deaths can erase it?

My Travels with the Slayer Volume 5 – Shipwrecked Entry 2

As always I have found the surest way to survive a bad situation is to stay with the Slayer as odd as that sounds it has always proved true. I knew he would not stand idle and starve to death so when he set off for the remains of our boat I set off with him and a small group of others who joined us. Those that we left behind were a defeated and sad looking lot, soaked through, tired and afraid I worried how many would survive this trial. We made our way along the beach to where the boat lay wedged against the rocks some two hundred feet from the beaches edge. As the group debated the best way to reach it Snorri simply grabbed up a rope and proceeded to lash calypso to his back and set off across the rock face like a spider. I have never ceased to be amazed by the sheer feats of brawn the Slayer has performed in the past and here was another, I quickly followed along behind him and we reached the boat in short order. Looking back I saw that Kev was also attempting to make the trip. The Slayer watched her make the climb with a critical eye and who could blame him? When we have encountered dwarfs in our past travels they almost always treated him the same. They would shun him outwardly; they would move to tables in the tavern far from us or cross to the other side of the street to walk past. But Kev did none of that, she simply looked right past him as if he didn’t even exist and despite his grumbled complaints it was better that way I think on some deep level it hurt him more than the avoidance or globs of spit he was used to. So when one of Kev’s handholds gave up and she plunged into the frothing water he simply let out a snort and turned away from the railing. That left me and calypso to help pull her aboard the boat. We quickly set about salvaging what we could from the wreck which sadly wasn’t much; we pulled only a barrel of somewhat mealy flour, salted pork and half of one of fish. We found not fresh water anywhere on the badly damaged ship and most everything we did find was destroyed. We did uncover a strange mystery, we found some of the crew dead from wounds from a Saber, and we also found that the prisoner brought on board was still alive and well. As a storm began to brew we headed topside where the slayer used what we salvaged to build an ingenious raft. This once more led me to wonder what kind of life he led before taking the crest. From there we all climbed aboard and Snorri lowered us to the water’s surface, he drank down a potion we found which would let him walk on water and he simply leaped down. I feared for a moment he would knife right into the water but instead he slammed down as it if were solid ground, without so much as word he snatched up the ropes we secured to the raft and he hauled us all shore. We found the others and quickly setup a temporary base camp in the pouring rain. And that is where the Slayer once more displayed his amazing people skills to our new friends.

The Slayer announced that those who didn’t work to stay alive wouldn’t eat of the meager food we found on the boat and therefore caused and argument. Arguing with the slayer will get you about as far as beating your head into a rock wall I tried to intervene a few times to calm down things but before I could calypso accused Sasha of murder. This only caused her to grow more enraged and argumentative which saw her picked up and bodily deposited outside the tent in the rain to fend for herself. Why does it always occur when a beautiful women in need of protecting finds herself in my company she is driven away or horribly slaughtered by some fearsome beast? The gods are truly punishing me for something I have done I am sure of that now. Seeing that the Slayer would not budge on his stance Kev stepped forward and convinced the Pathfinder to remain and even spoke with Snorri which set him back, later he would state that bad situations make for strange bedfellows and I am sure he is right. Most everyone on the island I am sure knows that should we find anything truly evil about having the Slayer on our side would be the best option. The night passed quickly if not very wetly and at morning we decided to scout the island to see what we could find or the meager food we found would only hold us for a weak or so at most and that was with strict rationing. I found the Slayer standing near the strange box we were hired to protect patting it almost lovingly. When I asked he flashed me a smile and when he does that my blood often runs cold because it never means anything good. He confided in me that the box spoke to him and showed him a glorious doom that would find him and nothing cheers him up more and with that we set off into the oppressive jungle. I have been on this island only a day and already I hate the place more than anywhere we have been before. If it is not raining (which at least provides us fresh water) then the very air itself wraps around you like a wet woolen blanket and you never dry out, already I am finding myself rubbed raw by my own clothes. Then there are the biting insects which seem to find their way to every inch of exposed flesh!! None of which seemed to bother the Slayer in the least of which I find nearly as irritating. By mid-morning I felt as if I had peeled most of my exposed flesh off from scratching where he has barely acknowledge the bumps and bites over his arms and back. The others were also showing some defeat as we tried to climb the small hill which in many cases would have been easy but with the weather and environment made it even harder. More than once someone would slip and fall grinding the thick mossy ground into their clothes or would fall a foul of the many hundreds of different planets that make up this greenish hell.

Struggling most of the way we found ourselves setup upon by some type of flying reptile that looked vaguely like a bird. The creatures leaped off the high trees and glided by biting and swiping at us, with a roar that shook the leaves the Slayer rushed in ax swinging. One of the smaller creatures made the fatal mistake of trying to fly to near and in the process of cleaving the life from one of the larger ones he casually caught it on the back swing and crushed the life from it. The battle was quickly won thanks to our allies’ magic and his strong arm leaving only the Slayer injured by one of the creatures who bit his arm. Blood flowed freely from the wound along with a tick greenish almost sap like liquid which I am sure is a poison of some sort. I wasn’t worried much for I had once seen the slayer take a giant scorpion’s barb to the chest without flinching or even breaking a sweat from the poison it pumped into his body. From there we found the top of the ridge and a clear view of our new temporary home. The island is much bigger than I first thought and we could see most if from our high vantage, the most disturbing thing was the ocean around the island for it writhed and tossed like an incensed beast but only around the land itself. Something about this place feels wrong and with what the slayer told me of his dreams I am wondering if here he will finally meet his chosen doom? If not then I swear to all the gods when we are done with our errand I will make up some story about a horrendous beast roaming the Orsian desert to the Slayer for at this point I am sure I will never ever dry out again.

My Travels with the Slayer Volume 5 - Shipwrecked Entry 1

Traveling with the Slayer these past three years has had its ups and downs and thankfully had is dull times between the far too many moments of bowel clenching fear of death that he has drug me into on more than one occasion. Our most recent endeavor to find his doom has turned out not as planned I am sure, but then that is what you get when dealing with a oily snake like Pelander. I warned the Slayer not to treat with him but the gold was upfront and it meant getting on our way even if it meant another boat ride. That being said I have seen the Slayer stand atop burning wagon facing down mob of goblin wolf riders laughing like a madman, I have seen a troll cleave his arm to the bone and in all those times he never flinched, never showed fear or discomfort beyond a grunt. Put him on a boat and you could see real fear in his eyes, but then who can blame him? I don’t seek my death but when it does come I pray it is never by sea or water. Can there be any more terrifying death than that, to be pulled down watching the light receded above you as the cold closes in around you all the while you fight your own body trying to force it to not do what comes most naturally to it.

But I digress for the boat we traveled on this trip was not the pitiful excuse we had taken the first time around but rather a massive galley of great berth and presence. The crew seemed pleasant enough and the Captain a good man but as before the Slayer was gruff in his words and glared the first mate down when asked to turn over his cargo to him. I still wonder what is in that damnable box that we are carrying, but an oath was given and other guards were hired on as well to ensure it was not opened and got where it needed to be. So without more words than “Manling bring something to drink to our cabin.” And then stomping below decks I laid eyes on my gruff friend only once or twice upon decks. The rest of the time he spent below drinking himself into an uncaring haze which I must admit was nice for here was one of those dull moments I so enjoyed. I was able to get work done on my journals and to speak with some of the other guests of who I found most to be very interesting. There was one incident where the Slayer and another reclusive guest of the ship had a run in on the way to the Jakes and neither would back down on the narrow space and allow the other around. Thanks to a quick interference and fast talking I was able to diffuse the hotheads and things went back to normal, which was to say I was greatly surprised when the Slayer joined us in the main mess for dinner that last night. In retrospect I wonder did anyone on the crew looked nervous as he put away bowl after bowl of bisque. Were they worried their poison would not taken him down? Had it not then things would have been a much different story I am sure.

Whoever it was that drugged him and stripped him of his weapons had better pray the sea took them else I pity them when he catches up to them. I am still at a lost as of to what they hoped to accomplish or how it even came about. When I woke it to so sharp pain in my ankle I opened my eyes to see a horrid sea creature grabbing at me. I lashed out with my other foot and landed a hit that drove it away from me. I could hear the gentle surf and the grunting of my companion somewhere nearby, staggering to my feet I found him pulling his weapons from a pile of our gear. Looking around the beach I saw most all of the guests who were on board the ship sprawled on the beach. Their fear was piled with ours nearby as if someone had meant to give it back or put it easier at hand to cart off. Maybe the onrush of sea creatures on the beach dragging those who were dead or unable to defend themselves into the water chased them away? Or it could have been the Slayers cursing when he found the box he swore to guard was busted open. Others on the beach started to come to and battle the creatures or at least chase them off as they didn’t seem interested in a fight. Save for one which rushed the rather arrogant wizard who was with us and tried to tear him apart after he fired a bolt of energy at it, lucky for him the Slayer was watching. With a casual flick of his wrist he sent one of his throwing axes at the creature cutting it neatly in half. Then with his typical way he picked it up then began to look around the beach for who was responsible or something to vent his anger on but nothing was near. So now we find ourselves not at our intended destination but rather stranded on a island somewhere in the ocean with no food or water at hand. I am not sure what he thinks but starving to death is no fit doom for anyone.

Journal 1

It wasn’t much of a trip really. Boarding at one of the first ports offered me the chance to really take in everything on the trip south. And I must say, it wasn’t really much of a trip. I worked the whole time, or at least I did what I could. The captain seemed to accept whatever I said, so I just ran with it, telling him to avoid some areas, and that the birds would provide warning if the ship was going to become befouled due to poor winds or rough seas. Overall the work actually helped, it kept me away from some of the other passengers. Not that the other passengers are bad people, I don’t really know them, and then again, they may view me as a bad person if they knew what I am running from.

Each port we stopped at seemed to have another little piece of mystery or danger, however it was all short lived, had to keep making our way south, to the jungle, to my fate. Some of the passengers seem to be heading south for reasons as strange as my own. Who would believe that I am following a promise made to me by my pet lizard. Maybe I am mad, a flight of fancy that I can talk to birds, or fish, or anything else that walks upon the earth. That strange things befall those who upset me. I may be as mad as the strange noble who stalks the deck of our ship, staring at the clouds, as if he is trying to force them to obey his will. I heard him mumble such things once, must be as mad as I.

Everything was going well until the final night on ship. Damned cook poisoned us. Spend almost 5 months with the man and now he decides to poison us. One minute we were having a good time with the captains feast, the next I was on the beach of some broken spit of land, having monstrous lobsters trying to eat me. They seemed to be more interested in the dead, and soon went off to find less lively pray after a few were killed by some of the other passengers. Strange thing is all our possessions were piled up on the beach, almost like someone kicked us off the ship and planned on sailing on. I know this is not the case as we can see the beached hulk of the front half of our transport just down the way near the cliffs that are rising above the point. Someone has mentioned looking for other survivors, and I can only laugh a little inside, after all we are now at the mercy of the jungle and it is not a forgiving master.

The Start of a beautiful thing
The Start of a beautiful thing

Welcome aboard my ship, the Jenivere, which will be taking you to Sargava’s capital, Ereder. Many travel to the uncharted lands, and for many reasons. I don’t need to know them and I’m not judging, least I can’t judge what I don’t know, but all the same, welcome aboard! The first mate, Alton Devers, will show you to your quarters. As you’ve paid for your board, you’re free to wander the ship as she is, but I’ll ask you to mind the crewmen, as they’ve got important jobs to do. There are a few other passengers proper as well, so we’ll be hosting Dinner at 7 in the mess hall for you all, and be prepared, as our Cook makes a wonderful dish. I’ll be around if you have any needs, but if it is mundane please address it to Alton, as I too have important things to do. Enjoy your voyage.

- Captain Alizandru Kovack

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