Hearts of Iron: The Serpent's Skull
First day on Smuggler’s Shiv Island
Things have taken a turn for the worse. I wish I could say I was surprised.
I write this journal huddled by a fire alongside nine other castaways. Indeed, our ship was wrecked last night and we survivors woke to find ourselves unconscious on the beach of some uncharted island!
A half-orc brute calling himself “Dog” made himself immensely useful despite his unfortunate lack of manners. He (somehow) sniffed out that we were all dragged to safety from a small vessel, then left on this beach by some unknown benefactor. He also noted that there were no tracks overland, meaning that we’re abandoned here on this island for some reason.
Having few supplies, a handful of us decided to go in search of the shipwreck. It was unpleasant travel along rocky cliff edges and through brush, but we eventually found the vessel and made our way toward it at low-tide. After some unpleasant business with a sea beast in the ship’s hold we found the corpse of the first mate. We also discovered a small cash of magic potions (an unexpected blessing!) as well as the captain’s log. It seems our captain was obsessing over one of his passengers – a bookish woman from Cheliax. She seemed to be a scholar of sorts and was reading-up on the history of Garund’s civilizations and ruins.
How the captain’s fascination with this woman created a confluence of events leading to all of us being safely deposited on shore – I cannot even guess.
I’m growing weary of writing but I’ll press on to record my impressions of the persons with whom I must share a camp.
Flo, my nearest companion has proven herself to be a superb diplomat – gaining much needed information from the tight-lipped castaways. Moreover, her magical abilities appear to rival my own.
A gnome named Sparky has joined us. A Sarenrite, she seems utterly unflappable. She does tend to go on about how “everything’s going to be okay”. I have no idea how she’s come to this conclusion, but she seems convinced of it. That said, she’s insightful and puts people at ease. Leadership potential for sure.
Another small person, Octavia the halfling, is in possession of real, physical beauty. At first blush I took her for a sophisticated gem of a creature, however when she spoke, the facade of class wholly crumbled away. She’s eccentric and even a tad off-colour in her humour – yet she strikes me as sincere and intelligent.
Oh, and I can’t forget “Dog”. A strongly built, terse, and (I must admit) courageous creature. He’s taken on a sort of rough-and-ready leadership of our little party. Between he and Sparky, I think we might actually get out of this horrible mess alive.
I’ll close here. It is my sincere hope that tomorrow is less oppressive and exhausting. I actually perspired today! Filthy business – and I have no hope of a bath for some time. It truly is the end of days.
It has been some days since we arrived on this blasted island. I write now, dear journal, from a sickbed by the sea. I’ve needed some time to heal after a disastrous battle. I must confess, among the many injuries I’m presently nursing none exceed the irreparable damage to my ego.
I shall skim over details that are little import in order to get to the root of the matter. We decided to head along the shore of the island and try to get a better understanding of our predicament. Whilst climbing a cliff, a dreadful bird-like creature swooped-in to attack two of my comrades, Olivia and Sparky who were only halfway through their ascent. Panic set in. I had no spells powerful enough to destroy the creature and so I opted for illusion. I cast a Silent Image along the length of the line and modeled its appearance on the cliff itself. In the moment, I was unable to warn my two comrades that I was casting an illusion. Alas…they were as perplexed by the ruse as the predator. I’d unintentionally been rubbing Sparky the wrong way already. This debacle confirmed her dislike for me. Did the spell have the desired effect? Naturally! I might be a catastrophe in these combat situations but my magical prowess is never in question!
We eventually destroyed the cursed thing but I felt low. My success in magic had been a tactical failure.
Oh, but don’t give up now Vala, press on with the real failures…
I’ll record the event now if only to learn from it. We decided to find eggs of this type of bird. A woman back at camp had asked us to do so and it seemed an easy task. It proved to be very nearly our undoing.
Once again we found ourselves with a member of the party clinging to a cliff-side. Dog no less! The one member of our group who can wield a blade. Whilst he dangled below collecting bird eggs, the rest of us had to do combat with a massive version of the bird of prey. A mother fighting to protect her eggs, no less! I was knocked unconscious in a matter of seconds. Humiliating. Yet I was roused if only for a moment by the courage of Olivia. I summoned what arcane powers I still possessed and cast a Glitter Dust spell.I fell into darkness again but this time with the satisfaction of knowing I’d at least done something right.
And now I convalesce in this ramshackle hut. Few come and visit. I can hardly blame them. On the bright side, the quiet is a nice change. And if I call in shrill enough tone, they do eventually come and bring me a meal. I requested that a bell (or some other sounding device – perhaps something louder like a horn) be made available to save my voice. Not a single one of them offered to provide me with so simple a tool as that! They are a selfish and uncivilized brood. I do have some hopes of training them. I suppose sitting in a hut and giving the occasional order will do for now.
Right then, enough of this. I require rest. There’s work to be done and happily, I shan’t be a part of it. Good night journal. Off to some well deserved sleep.