The island of Seraz

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terryrayc
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The island of Seraz

Post by terryrayc » Wed Aug 08, 2007 11:49 pm

The Entan's Pride has returned to port. Her crew cowds into the taverns and drink like every drop might be their last. As the evening fades into night, their lips loosen. Shakily, they tell a frightful tale.

Not twenty leagues from Nuvar, the Entan's Pride encountered a ship adrift. The ship was called the Lucky Maid and her crew was dead to a man. The cleric aboard the Entan's Pride proclaimed the cause to be plague. The crew of the Entan's Pride quickly abandoned the Lucky Maid. They took only the captain's log, before sending the Lucky Maid to the briney depths. Within the faded, weathered passages of the captain's log, the fate of the Lucky Maid was revealed:

... the Maid has been adrift for days. No wind blows, and the heat has become unbearable. If not for Brother Mathius and Sister Rosella's prayers, we would surely perish of hunger and thirst ...

... the Maid is drifting towards an island, one that appears on no maps. Or compasses spin in all directions, and the finding prayers of Mathius and Rosella go unanswered. From the sun in the sky, I can see we approach the isle from the west. It is covered in swamps and marshes. A volcanoe sends up clouds of ash and smoke in the distance. The sea here is shallow, and I order the crew to drop anchor, lest we run aground. Still no wind ...

... the men grow restless. We have been anchored off the forbidding isle for a week now, hoping, praying for a gust of wind. The men are tired of this boat, the incredible heat drives them mad. The swamps look to be terrible, and I am overcome with dread just looking at them. Brother Mathius urges me to let the men stretch their legs on the shore. Although it goes against every instinct I posses, I agree to his request ...

... the swamps are foul. Already, 4 of my men have fallen ill from sickness that seems to permate the air. The heat is unbearable. Exposed flesh invites all manner of biting, blood-sucking insects to feast. The prayers of Mathius have restored my men, and for that I am grateful. However, his insistence we explore and map this piece of Hell quickly wears on my nerves. I fear there are far worse things then insects and disease to be found here ...

... this morning we awoke to find our camp surrounded by lizardfolk. They seemed wary, and ready to attack. Mathius's soothing voice calmed them, and through the use of magic, allowed him to communicate with them. They call themselves, the Waasan, which means "People of Waas". They call this island Seraz.


The lizardfolk then proceeded to tell an all too familiar tale. One morning they awoke to find themselves stranded on an island. Waas seems to be their god, from where-ever they came from. They describe her as being some kind of dragon-turtle creature. Mathius assures me these "priests" of Waasan are actually druids. She is so far away, that their prayers have difficulty reaching her.

This has caused a "rift" within the Waasan. Many of the lizardfolk felt Waas abandoned them. However, resting within the volcanoe, they found another god. This being calls itself Ishaar, and granted powers to the lizardfolk who chose to follow it. They broke away from the Waasan and called themselves the Ishaari, which means "Followers of Ishaar". I confess, I find the likelihood of a new god simply waiting for these lizardfolk to be all too convienient.

Ishaar is a bloody god of destruction, and demanded the sacrifice of the Waasan in payment for his gifts. The Ishaari rained fire and death apon the Waasan, who fled into the swamps. Even though their prayers to Waas were weaker, the Waas priest insisted that it was still the power of Waas that saved the Waasan from the depredations of the Ishaari. Unable to make any headway into the swamps, the Ishaari used their new powers to raise the dead, as well as conjure demons and fell beasts to drive the Waasan out of the swamps. The Waasan continue to persevere.

The Ishaari went before their god in shame, and it was said he slew many of them in his wrath. In the end, he provided them with a solution. With the aid of his new priests, he set a mighty curse on the waters about Seraz. The Ishaari were not certain what this curse would do, until the first ships arrived.

Ships began to beach themselves on the shores of Seraz. Some were driven there by sudden storms. Others, like the Lucky Maid, found themselves in becalmed waters, and the ocean currents dragged the ships slowly to their doom. The Ishaari were quick to enslave and capture the crews. Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, even Orcs were all brought here and force to serve the Ishaari. They suffered one of two fates: to be worked to death building the giant ziggurats in the Ishaari city, or to be sacrificed on the alter of Ishaar...

... the Waas "priest" had no sooner finished his tale, when fire rained from the sky. The men screamed as some were dragged below the murky waters by rotten hands. Father Mathius himself burst into flames and was consumed before my very eyes. We fled, leaving the Waasan to their war with the Ishaari. We made it to the boats, and rowed for the Lucky Maid[i/] as fast as we could. Lizardfolk reached over the sides of the boats and dragged men into the water. Only myself and a few others made it back to the Lucky Maid ...

... we weighed anchor, and the Maid started drifting towards Seraz again. However, some god took pity upon us, and a breeze blew from the west. Our hearts full of hope, and our sail full of wind, we left the dread isle of Seraz far, far behind us...

... and so it comes to this at last. The god that rescued us from the clutches of Seraz has revealed herself. I am certain, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is Xanis. No sooner had Seraz passed out of sight then Sister Rosella came down with a terrible sickness. She thrashed and moaned in her sleep. Soon, the rest of the crew was similarly afflicted. I feel the fever creeping into my brain, and the cruel laughter of Xanis echoes in my ears ...
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terryrayc
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Post by terryrayc » Sun Aug 26, 2007 8:15 pm

A few weeks had passed since the Entan's Pride returned to port with the sad tale of the fate of the crew of the Lucky Maid. Four more heavily laden merchant vessels had disappeared in the time since, and merchants and sailors alike spoke in hushed tones of the dread isle of Seraz. Although there could be any number of more common reasons for the disappearances, the exotic and frightful tale of Seraz prompted wild speculation among the populace. To combat the growing panic, a small group of priests of Olyrn set about to find hard answers to the troubling nature of Seraz. They purchased the services of an experienced pirate-hunting war galley, the Radiant Glory, to find the isle of Seraz, and ascertain the threat the lizardfolk posed to Nuvar. Heading the warnings within the logbook of the Lucky Maid, they also aquired the services of a score of hardy dwarven oarsmen, should "Ishar's Curse" be true. They spent several days in seclusion, praying to Olyrn to show them the path to Seraz. Although the exact location could not be ascertained, they gleaned a few clues to it's whereabouts and set sail for the forbidding isle.

Several more weeks passed, with no sign or word from the Radiant Glory. Then, a trading vessel from the Isle of Iron brought terrible news. The Radiant Glory had been found, it's splintered remains scattered across a mile-wide stretch of the Isle of Iron's western shore. There were no survivors among the crew, but the personal journal of a senior priestess of Olyrn had survived.

... the Radiant Glory has just survived a most frightful storm! The mast was shattered, and much of the forecastle torn away. I spent all night bailing water as the ship rocked furiously! I whispered prayers to Olyrn through the whole ordeal, and I am certain we survive by the grace of His hand. However, the lookout has spotted a large island in the distance, and from the terrible feeling of foreboding cloaked about it, I am certain we have found our destination ...

... the air is hot and damp, and is so thick, it feels hard to breathe. Much of the crew have stripped to breechclouts or less in the oppressive heat. Wearing heavy armor is nearly a death sentence, though the stoic and stubborn dwarves refuse to shed their metal shells. As mentioned in the
Lucky Maid's logs, no wind blows. By Olyrn! What I would not give for even a slight breeze ...

... we have spent 4 days rowing around the isle, avoiding the shallow reefs. We have seen a dozen wrecked ships, many of them stripped to bare, shattered skeletons. There is no sign of the crews. The volcano spews ash and smoke, that abscures the mid-day sun, and causes the sunset to be a violent display of red and yellow. Brother Osric has said tomorrow we will make landfall upon the shore. The prospect of treading through the wretched swamp fills me with dread ...

... Olyrn smiles on us. Forewarned of the sucking insects, undead, and terrible sickness of the swamp, we have used the prayers of Olyrn to good effect. Although we have suffered some hardship, and encountered several dangerous beasts, there have been no serious injuries.

We have also encountered a group of the passive lizardfolk, the Waasan. Their way of life has similarities to the elves. They live in harmony with the swamp. However, where the elves seem to place more value on the natural world then their own survival, the Wassan seem treat nature as equal to their own existence. They dress crudely, wearing bones, shells and poorly treated hides for clothing and armor. There is a noticeable lack of metal among them as well. The Waasan warriors seem to prefer spears or tridents tipped with sharpened bone, obsidian, or coral. Some sport katars, or kukris made of the same materials. With the Hellish, strength-sapping heat, these seem to be wise choices. The trees on Seraz are either to soft and spongy, or too hard to cut without metal tools. The Waasan have adapted to craft shortbows from a combination of bone and wood. Here and there among them, are a few weapons more common to the isles around Nuvar, such as longswords or shortswords. These seem to be taken from the Waasan's enemies, the Ishaari, or found among the shipwrecks that dot Seraz's coastline.

The Waasan fervently cling to the worship of their old god, Waas. I have never heard of her, nor have any of the other members of our expedition. They describe her as some truly exotic creature, a mixture of dragon and giant sea turtle. According to the priests, She has dominion over oceans, seas, and rivers. She promotes the "natural order" of survival. It is a difficult concept for me to grasp. It is not as harsh as "survival of the fittest" but the methods of nurturing among the Waasan is much more brutal then I would subject any child to. Perhaps, it is something only a cold-blooded species can understand.

The Waasan are divided into several tribes. Each tribe is ruled by a chieftan or chieftess. These positions are not hereditary, but earned through accomplishment and personal sacrifice on behalf of the tribe. Other castes within the tribes are awarded respect, more then authority. The druid-priests of Waas are afforded the highest honor and respect among the tribes. Next are the warrior/hunters (it seems they serve in both capacities). There are also loresingers, lizardfolk bards who record deed and history in song and tale. The only other caste seems to be the normal lizardfolk, who gather food and make clothing, weapons, and armor. The tribes seem as wary of each other as they are of "warm-bloods", so there are no merchants among them. The druid-priests sometimes mediate any trades between tribes that are needed. Within the tribes is a communal atmosphere, so anything that is needed is given freely, with all members of the tribe working hard to support each other.

At first, I mistook the Waasan's wiliness to aid us for genuine concern for our well-being. They quickly disabused us of that notion. The Waasan aid us only so that our bodies and weapons are not forced to serve the Ishaari. The Ishaari would use us as slaves to grease the wheels of their fledgling empire, or as undead to fill the ranks of their armies. The Waasan have agreed to aid us in attacking an Ishaari slaving camp, not far from where we are now. I look forward with relish at slaying the fiendish lizardfolk! We attack at dawn ...

... the attack on the slave camp did not go well. The Ishaari priests rained fire on us from the sky. Ishaari slavers also seem to have crude psionic powers. They dominated several of our warriors, and shattered the mind of Brother Kasim and Sister Yalina. Even now, we secured them for their own protection. They rant and froth and scream of our doom at the hand of Ishaar in a most frightful way. The Ishaari also slew several slaves, rather then allow us to free them. We rescued a few prisoners, among them a very hardy dwarf who seemed to retain his wits. He told us of his experiences with the Ishaari.

The Ishaari are a cruel, selfish people. They are divided into houses, each house is lead by sorcerer-priests of Ishaar, although the slavers seem to be able to hold significant power and authority as well. Prestige is gained by having the most slaves or metal. Shockingly, Seraz is almost completely devoid of natural metal deposits. Large offerings to Ishaar (usually in the form of sacrifices) also garners great respect among the Ishaari.

Ishaari warriors prefer huge metal weapons. Many of them fight with more savagery then skill. They also wear lots of heavy metal armor, even in the deadly Seraz heat. They also sport a crude assortment of bows, no doubt scavenged from shipwrecks.

As I mentioned earlier, the Ishaari slavers all have some manner of psionic ability, crude though it may be. They favor the traditional slaver-whip and longsword. The Waasan tell me that the whips are made from the hide of slaves who try to escape.

The Ishaari priests wear simple linen shifts and elaborate serpent-topped staffs. They call upon Ishaar for prayers of fire and destruction. I did not see any utter even the simplest healing prayer for the wounded amongst them.

They come from a massive city of carved volcanic rock they call Ishaaraastlan. The dwarf tells us of a massive black stone ziggurat, from which a river of blood flows from the peak. Slaves constantly toil in the carved passages beneath the volcano to provide more stone for the city. Somewhere within the volcano, the dread god Ishaar himself holds court.

I whisper prayers of healing over our wounded and we return to the Waasan village tomorrow. Brother Osric wishes to see Ishaaraastlan with his own eyes, to better assess the threat the Ishaari pose to Nuvar ...

...
(this entry is smudged in places. It is also the last entry in the journal) I pray now to Olyrn for Brother Osric's soul. The Waasan tell me that Brother Osric's party was captured by the Ishaari and taken to their dread city. I try not to imagine the horrors he is going through, but pray he is given a quick release into Olyrn's arms. Much of our party was in that group, I stayed behind to tend to the wounded from the slaver's camp. We will board the Radiant Glory and return to Nuvar. The captain tells me that the Glory is only partially repaired from her last ordeal. Another heavy storm will rip the ship to pieces ...
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