Diamond Shores

Book One: Chapter One

The Death of Sergeant Scotts

Our story begins with two row boats approaching a small, hilly island from opposite directions. On one boat is Captain Oak Stouthart of the Paladian Guard of Del Finti, and his doomed companion of two years, Sergeant Scotts, both stalwart defenders of the Teichan Empire. On the other boat, the curious halfling Sillian Goldenbrew, the plucky, yet fashionably attired thief and explorer from the ghettos of Del Cara. The sun is shining, the wind is warm, the ocean is calm, and the circumstances are suspect.

Oak had recieved official orders through Imperial channels to investigate this unnamed island and make contact with whomever might be inhabiting a keep atop the hills there. Sillian was given a note via courier that said his Uncle Weschester had passed away, and that he had left an inheritance of a house on this unnamed island. Two contradicting story about this spit of sand and rock in the middle of the Argnaro Archipelago, both signed by a mysterious Ulysses N. Owen.

After a brief introduction, Oak, Sillian, and the red-shirted Scotts decide to have a look around the small, square, stone building that appears neither home nor keep. Inside, they discover an open air room, with no roof above, a working well, and ivy clinging to the walls. Oak is quick to note that ivy should not exist naturally in the island chain, but that it is only found on the mainland to the west. Sillian tests the well, and as he winches the bucket down, then up, the whole island begins to rumble and quake. Sillian follows Oak outside and discovers not only that their ships are sailing away, but that the dinghy Scotts anchored to this beach is quickly drifting away.

The halfling swims out to recover it, but soon decides that he can’t swim fast enough to reach it. Recognizing a dire situation when he sees it, the paladin calls for his trusty Sergeant. Instead of coming as called, Scotts screams in terror. Going in to investigate, the pair can find neither hide nor hair of their companion, until they hear him scream once again from within the depths of the well. They deliberate for a moment and decide to go into the well after him.

At the bottom, they discover something peculiar: the well water is fresh, and it is giving off a soft green light. Sillian notices the rope and bucket near the tunnel to the next chamber of the cave, evidence of the good Sergeant. Following the only path, the pair come into an s-shaped tunnel, flanked on either side by the strange water. Sillian steps lightly across, but Oak, in heavy steel armor, clanks through. The chamber rumbles and from the soft stone beneath them emerge a quartet of writhing, thick vines that take the human by surprise. Whipping against him, mostly fruitlessly, these plants are quickly dispatched. This gives these heroes pause, making them consider better what absconded with Scotts.

They continue through to the next area and are set upon once again by a tough pair of larger vines and a pair of wall-hugging thron-spitting flowers. Utilizing superior tactics and making the most of the stalagmites as natural cover, their botanical foes fall in short order.

Moving forward, they come to a large cavern almost completely flooded with the fresh, green water. As the thief swims deftly through the pool, Oak is forced to try to walk across the bottom with only his head and shoulders above the surface. The island quakes again, and the water level lowers slowly before rising at a rapid pace. Suddenly, an enormous tentacle-vine wraps itself around the armored Captain and holds him aloft, crushing him in it’s thorny grip. Sillian’s attempts at slashing through it are fast proven futile, so he scales the trunk and leaps from stalk to Oak to help the warrior free. The human, given his background and keen sense of the natural world, discovers the tip as a weak-point, and uses his sword to saw through the six-inch vine sapping his health from him. Cutting free and falling to the bottom of the water, the tentacle-vine retreats back under the stone floor, allowing the duo to press on.

In the final chamber of this queer cavern, the source of the botanical monstrosities is revealed: a hulking, gargantuan mass of vines, leaves, and thorns, suspended above the ground by impressively thick roots dug into the walls and ceiling. Accompanied by several other vines, big and small, they witness this creature pulling the skeleton of poor Scotts from its horrid form. Developing a plan to draw the vines to them, not wanting to just charge in, Oak and Sillian succeed in dispatching one of their enemies outside the main chamber. The others, however, go back to form a defensive line in front of the hanging flora. The humongous ball of plants deploys an obscuring cloud of spores and blinds brave Oak, if only momentarily, before the two close on it and, through the power of divine Bahamut and the cunning of the halfling, prevail, vanquishing the carniverous Florian. Upon its death, the thing rips down the wall behind it and falls to the ground lifeless.

Emerging through this new passage, a small ship and crew is discovered loading crates in a dark cove. The sailors are stupified, and the dark-skinned Captain Hatt comes to greet them above deck and learns their story. On revealing the name signed on both missives, Ulysses N. Owen, he tells them it is a common way to sign anonymous mail, sounding like “unknown”. He offers to take them to Diamond Shores to meet Lieutenant Hague, an expert forger, handwriting analyst, and finder of missing persons. Oak and Sillian are welcomed aboard, and they depart for the vast blue sea on the smuggling ship “Wayward Sun”.



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