Pirates! Part 2
 

The rangers , with little time to mourn a fallen compatriot, took the Blackwater maid in the deep harbour of Skierry. On board the ship , the Corackman spotted a corpse come flying out of a hidden vantage point in the junglebound cliff walls surrounding the harbour. The corpse was followed shortly therafter by a non descript man, dressed as a pirate who climbed downt he foliage from the watchpoint and motioned to them on the beach--pointing out a sea cave that seemed to enter into the interior.

Suspicious at first, Davreit allowed the man aboard, climbing hand over hand up a set of cargo ropes that were strung from the deck of the Maid to a loading dock on shore.

The man, identifying himself as Chaing, declared he was an agent of a certain power who came to the island four months ago undercover on a misson to uncover the happenings on Skierry.

The Rangers raided the boat and found one cabin with various alchemical ingrediets including the rare and valuable zax lotus root and mankhare. Plants that can heal wounds or bolster magic power at the cost of health.

Chaing briefed them that Damien had the girl--she was beaten, and also that the most dangerous person on the island was in fact the Red Hag of Skierry--a sorceress with a bound fire rune.

Petr , Chaing and Davreit took the ropes to the dock and were ambushed by six picked men at the cave mouth.

Petr , standing in the surf managed to smash two crossbow bolts out of the air before charging the cave mouth. The Corackman and Kaelus both let loose with a ballista bolt apiece before swarming the ropes to shore.

In a savage bout of hand to hand combat, the picked men, all fighting berzerkly thanks to a balck potion each drank, pressed the three men, wounding each with a savage unremitting assault until the rangers cut them down.

Chaing had retrieved his gear and all entered the cavern.

Using his knowledge of the layout of the place, Chaing pointed out some of the traps, some ,however, were not memorized and after a harrowing crawl though pit and spear traps, they were ambushed by a hidden assassin in  a murder hole. The Corackman made short work of the man with his greatsword, and all of them paused at an ambush point.

At this point Chaing called upon his mystic power and laid a fog of shadows into the area. The ten crossbowmen set for ambush didn't see the group as they stealthed their way close.

Kaelus and the Corackman plied their weapons at the far end, after ghosting thier way past the line. Petr, Chaing and Davreit took the line from the south and in less than a minute ten men lay dead or dying upon the sands.

A further corridor full of darts was defeated by the rangers who used the dead bodies to trigger the pressure plates and all found themselves at the entry to the main caldera of the extinct volcano.

Once again Chaing used his shadow rune to fill the area, with some limited success.

The Corackman and Kaelus made for the red witch, Petr, Chaing and Davreit attacked a blinded line of crossbowmen while the rest of the pirates, seeing through the shadows assaulted both groups in equal measure.

Kaelus launched his harpoon at the red witch only to have it explode into flames before it hit her. A further spell was disrupted by the Four Serpent Shield he took from the corpse of Gniall.

The Corackman found himself pressed by four attackers fending them off with his greatsword in desperate combat.

The other three began cutting though the crossbowmen like scythes through old wheat, which saw most down and dying before the reality of the situation was plain.

Kaelus fought a running battle from the ten picked men who had downed the dragons brew and pursued him.

The Corackman went on the offensive, slaughtering two men in as many strokes with his great sword, breaking the morale of the last two who surrendered.

The red witch however, casting a spell, froze him into immobility as three of the berzerk picked men charged him.

Damien engaged both Petr and Davriet and after a flashing deadly battle, in which one of Davreits rapiers was broken, was decapitated by Fjordhouse's heir.

The rest of the picked men were lured aside by Davriet, saving the life of the Corackman.

 From the back room, whence the red witch had fled, a beaten Cassiana came out and met the party.

They followed the red witch into her lair and found her in a room full of mirrors, where she beseached a shadowy figure...recognized by Kaelus and Chaing as the Inzhari Emperor who, through the mirror, conducted a ritual that burst the red witch asunder and from her blood caused three black demonic forms to rise.

Petr of Fjordhouse launched a purloined broadsword at the mirror and shattered it, causing shards of glass to scar the emperors face, the last sight was of his demonic counteneance bleeding and staring death at the Scarred Leopard.

Kaelus threw himself accross the room to try and use the shield of four serpents to disrupt the magic, but his jump fell short.

Now the party, battered and exhausted, stare down three sword weilding demons, who stalk forward, black scales outlines in magmetic flame.