Tales of Atlium: Somerwind Isle

One of the most dangerous places that no one had ever heard of. Far away from the hustle and bustle of any real population. A place of darkness and evil, co-opted for use as a military base for the Enclave in their war against Ivandria, even after the war was over. And a band of allies, hellbent on dealing with the people who resided there. This is the tale of Somerwind Isle.

The cast, in order of relevance to the story:

  • Hannah as Myana, female Alswain warlock
  • Mitchell as Alraste, male Elsydian rogue
  • Kim as Fyra Prima, female Escosian druid
  • Alex as Ekk, female Orcish fighter
  • featuring Teddy as Erinam, male Zoradashi paladin
The Context

In dealing with the undead uprising of Brightfall, the party came upon a crazed mercantile sailor who possessed a magical artifact known as Yntwil. It was being used to control him, force him to do the bidding of someone else, a conductor behind the scenes, a mercenary in the employ of the Orcish Enclave known as Estar. One who set up at a small island a week’s travel by sea from the Ivandrian capital of Brightfall.

So, with access to the Daedalus, the ship of the pirate captain Erinam, the party journeyed to Somerwind Isle. But they didn’t do it alone. With Erinam, they had a crew. Additionally, they brought along an ally, Stenar, who they met during the Festival of the Hunt. Though he was a simple man, he revealed that at one point, he worked with Estar, so he saw himself as responsible, requesting to join this expedition. So they set sail for Somerwind.

The Story

The journey to the island wasn’t without event, as there was an arm-wrestling tournament organized almost immediately after they left Brightfall Bay. Spirits were high, ale was flowing freely, and determination and the expectation of victory was heavy in the air around them. Each night seemed punctuated with revelry and celebration, that the worst – monsters of an undead nature – was already behind them. There was, of course, an expectation of resistance, but the thought that it would stand anywhere near what they had already dealt with wasn’t something that entered many a mind.

Of course, nothing is ever as easy as expected. As they drew closer to the island, strange happenings began to occur. Harmless enough at first, strange glowing fish that swam out of the sea, small schools seemingly leading the Daedalus to it’s destination. And then, the sounds of boarding from unseen ships. Strange, ghost-like beings from the ether appeared, intent on laying siege to the ship before it could reach Somerwind’s shores. Explosions of fire, the sound of battle, and the very real dangers of this strange place evaporated any expectation of things being easy. Though in the end, they fought off the the attack, the ships that docked floated off into the night, and seemed to fade into obscurity and darkness, just as quickly as they appeared.

Not all was as simple as it could be, though. Upon reaching the island, they quickly realized that the Daedalus, even being a smaller ship, wasn’t worth risking through the reefs and rocks around the island. So boarding an away ship, they all headed for the beach, beginning their siege. Except for Myana. In need of more power and control over that power, she stayed behind, performing a physically taxing ritual to better interact with Targoth, speaking to the demonic being face to face. So Myana stayed behind with the crew of the Daedalus, while Alraste, Fyra, Ekk, Erinam and Stenar braved the choppy seas and began their trek onto Somerwind Isle.

The party was greeted by a strange, unliving being that identified itself as Albin Lashter, the caretaker of the Manor and its grounds. He spoke Alabastrian, seemed human, but also seemed ethereal. He was everywhere, constantly working on the upkeep of the island. He was alive, yet his head rolled on his shoulders, as if his neck were broken. But Albin saw no issue, no enemy, no ally, just the upkeep of the island, which he seemed beholden to in some way.

While scouring the island for answers, the party came upon guardsmen under the employ of Estar. Rather than immediately battle them, they instead spoke with them, learning more of the island, and the inherent dangers of the island. The group of three guards – Philip, Ed, and Francis – seemed affable enough, and were more than willing to share a rest with these strange folk, though not without warning. The party, more than anything, learned that these guards were paid very well to do almost nothing. But more than that, they learned of a place of safety. A cave on the beach where they could hole up for the night.

Arriving at the cave, they began to set up a fire, but instead found that they cave seemed to keep going, deeper and deeper. Instead of staying where they were, they followed it, hoping it would lead them past the guards of the lower portions of the island. A hope that was eventually paid off, though not without peril. The cave was wrought with strange dangers and impossibly large spaces, weird creatures that seemed impossible and locations that couldn’t exist within the space they were in. As they reached the ends of the cave, the very roots of the trees above them came to life, attacking them. Fending them off, they escaped to the nearest place that seemed safe: A small cabin that they later learned was the caretaker’s house. And yes, Albin tried his best to be hospitable, though the holes in the roof and general damage let the elements in. Nonetheless, the relative clearing it was built in allowed them a measure of safety, compared to anything else on the island they had seen thus far. So they rested.

Meanwhile, with Myana’s ritual completed, a deal for more power made, she began her own journey towards Somerwind. Escorted via away ship by some members of the crew, they capsized and were already beaten up by the time they reached the shores, nowhere near where the party landed a day ago. They took refuge in a small dry dock, hoping to spend some time patching up before Myana headed inland. While resting, small beings of light known as deadhunters began appearing, and Myana was forced to fight them off. Though Myana survived, it cost her allies, Uppity and Einridi, their lives.

With no reason to stay where she was, Myana began to head inland, hoping to find the party. As she traveled, following the well-kept path up the hill, she came across a strange creature known as Zix. A gremlin of some ill-repute with strange demeanor, it made a deal with Myana, that if it took her to her friends, she would save it’s friend, Abby. While it guided Myana to her friends, it warned her of the Big Evil, which hunted in the trees, a defense of the masters of the island, heavily encouraging those who existed here to stay on the path. There were no answers as to how or why this Big Evil existed, only that it did.

In the very late night or early morning, Myana was reunited with her friends. And with the party finishing a night of strange rest in this place of muted colors and endless dangers, they began their journey towards the Manor. While doing so, the deadhunters seemed to attack strange glowing balls of energy, which Zix would then go and eat. They found one wounded, a small fey being known as En, and brought it with them. Another ally, another advantage in this place of unexpected dangers. It was then, traveling through the forests of the island, that they came upon the Big Evil. A twisting shape of tree and root, as large as any other in the forested area, it seemed unstoppable, with an unending thirst for death. The party decided to fight, hoping that in ending this, they would be able to have a stronger foothold in the island. The battle was perilous, nearly costing Erinam his life, but they succeeded in felling the Big Evil.

With a level of safety, the party were able to scout the Manor itself, though Estar knew of the party’s coming. Already a man who let his paranoia overtake him, he had the woman known as Abby, some sort of prisoners he had held here for a long time, out in shackles with his blade at her throat. While he couldn’t see the party hiding in the overgrowth outside of the gates of Somerwind Manor, he called to them the same. Not wanting to let him get more time to plan, they quickly came up with a plan of their own and charged past the gate, beginning the assault on Somerwind Manor.

The battle was quick, but not without casualty. What the party thought was Abby was, in reality, Stenar under an illusion spell, only broken when Estar’s blade pierced his neck and he fell to the ground, lifeless. Estar’s paranoia proved too much, as he lessened his bargaining power with the party by using illusions, though the result was about the same for him, given the determination of the heroes of this story. Guards at the entryway were trampled by Fyra in the form of a war horse. The majority of Estar’s men weren’t ready for the magical assault that was enacted and in quick time, after Estar fell, the survivors, few as they were, laid down their arms. The battle for Somerwind Manor was over, though the illusory magic still permeated the air, and the desecrated land and greatest evils of the island still seemed to linger.

With no time to rest, they began to hunt through the manor. They found illusions of the dead, those they loved. For Fyra, it was her magical mentor Hazel and her family members that were lost. For Myana, an old lover. Ekk saw family that she thought were alive, giving her pause as to her dedication at what might be a futile goal. Alraste’s illusion was a woman he once loved, lost to the war. And for Erinam, it was the crewmen he lost. They steeled themselves, convinced everything was fake and needed to be ignored, and pressed through the manor.

Among the most important of findings were correspondence between Estar and Zabghat, detailing many things about the island, the war, and various other small notes. They then came across what looked like a strange room full of magical materials, with an Elsydian man who called himself One for his single arm. He had apparently been under the control of the Enclave for some time, particularly here where he was forced to do magical work that none of the others understood. But the crown jewel of this room was a gem that One seemed to power, which created the illusions. In short order, it was broken and things seemed to be over.

Except that the colors were still muted, a world of desecration. But the party was exhausted both mentally and physically, and intended to find the source of this evil after spending time seeing to their wounds and finishing up with securing the manor itself, confirming that it was safe now. Myana pled with Targoth for a way to resurrect Stenar, who in short time had become a great ally to the party. There was an answer, though it required Myana giving herself up to Targoth for an extended period of time, a deal she was more than willing to make. A heinous blood ritual took place, using many of the resources from the mage’s chambers in the manor, which ended in Targoth successfully resurrecting Stenar, though only a shell of his former self. He barely spoke, hardly understood who he was, and seemed… unfinished. He was resurrected through some sort of demonic lichdom ritual, with a phylactery created that harbored his fractured soul, now.

Upon concluding the investigation of the rest of the manor, the party found a basement with two people chained up: Abhaya Sanna, the woman that Zix had been trying to save, apparently being kept alive just as bait so that Zix could eventually be killed; and Silas Moreau, a man who worked with the Colours of Freedom and knew Kietas’s father. And more so, they found the source of the evil, further down a cave connected to the basement, a being they learned was known as Orgona, the Fey Hunter, a massive demon bound between planes.

So, come the next morning, the party steeled themselves and headed into the lair of the Fey Hunter, where they had a showdown with a massive, chained demon from the Abyssal plane. It proved nearly fatal, with the constant heat and pressure in the cave building, weakening them all the longer they fought. But eventually, they triumphed over the demon– but in doing so, it unleashed a burst of energy that nearly killed Fyra, weakening the others, and bringing about the collapse of the system. By the skin of their teeth, they escaped the massive lair, all of them somehow surviving against all odds.

With Stenar (semi) alive once more, the others recovering, and new allies in the form of some of the guards of the island, they enjoyed a much needed respite from danger once more. The island seemed to come back to life, no longer muted and oppressive with its atmosphere. For the first time, the party had won. They worked together, and they overcame the obstacles, and came out stronger for it.

From the time of the battle with Estar until the felling of Orgona– that all took place as a single session of D&D, on a sunday night/monday morning, which went on for about 8 1/2 hours, of which 7-7 1/2 were recorded. It was during this session that I think everyone realized just how special this campaign was going to be. It was the first time it felt bigger than just friends playing make-believe in an online phone call.

The Aftermath

Philip and Ed became good friends to the party. They stayed on, being paid now by the party to guard the island, which was built up as a base of operations for the entirety of the party and many of their allies throughout the rest of their time together. Others, including Marcus and Francis, also stayed for quite a while, for their own reasons, as allies. Not least of which was how well the party had paid them.

In the immediacy, the party had a weekly fishing vessel that would ferry people to and from the island for a fee. Eventually, as repayment for being saved, One completed the teleportation circle on the island, which had an arcane connection to one in an old Colours of Freedom basement in Brightfall, which allowed for instant travel between the city and island for anyone who knew about it.

So it grew. Through Fyra’s magic, the land became incredibly fertile and would yield incredible amounts of various crops. The party introduced various animals to the island, as well, to help make it self-sustaining. The manor became a home for many of the guards who worked there, and many close friends of the guardsmen and party would stay at the manor on many an occasion.

‘The Island’, as it became known, was their home for many years. Eventually, it grew into something else. But that’s the crux of another story. For the scope of this story, it was a home that harbored a great evil for a long time. Once it was excised, it was a place of peace and happiness.

Posted by Robert Wall

1 comment

The island was the best home! I’m still upset we didn’t get revenge on the people who kidnapped everyone and destroyed the greenhouse and our books