Loooong over due for an update here.
Since July we have played depressingly few sessions. One of those sessions was really a BBQ with about an hour's worth of game chat tacked on the end.
So the game has moved only very slightly. The following took place over 2 sessions:
The heroes talked their way out of trouble with the Inquisitor. It helps that three of the party can work as the Face. All three together can be a formidable bunch of bullshit artists. That being said the heroes decided they weren't staying around long enough for the Inquisitor to appeal to higher authority; their librarian friend had given them a rough idea of where to go to find the Dooms of Ra and they went.
They hired a ship and sailed south. (The sea they are sailing is basically the Red Sea. It is long and narrow, the western shore is the coast of Kemet, the eastern shore is basically the Arabian peninsular.) Their plan is to sail south, past the southern border of Kemet, make landfall and head west.
About 3 days into their journey they are hit by a sudden squall and they see a huge water spout form before them. It comes straight for the ship, they tack but the water spout changes direction and continues to rush toward them. Just as it is about to smash over their bows the spout stops and transforms into a huge (20' tall) woman - a marid! She introduces herself as Hai al-Sabd, the sultana of the Narrow Sea. The heroes greet her with suitable platitudes and humility. Pleased by their humility the sultana asks them to perform a task for her, in return for which she offers a casket filled with pearls. All the heroes must do is rescue her lover. He is being imprisoned by her great enemy, the dragon-turtle Ahtalilla. Her lover is actually being held in a cage suspended from a tower, that itself sits atop a high crag, far above the sea. It is difficult for Hai al-Sabd to reach it, and would put hers at great risk. Not to mention there is a good chance it is a trap. After some negotiations the heroes accept. She gives them a piece of enchanted coral that will summon her if dropped in the sea.
On the marid's advice they take the ship's long boat to the island. The hope is that it is small enough to escape notice, especially in the storm. The plan almost succeeds. A patrol of Sahuagin does notice the boat and comes to investigate. They catch the heroes upon a narrow pebbly beach just as they are looking for the best way to ascend the crag. In the ensuing fight the halfling sorcerer comes within a whisker of dying but is rescued by a heroic, last moment run by the cleric, who dodges past 3 or 4 enemies to reach the halfling and lay some healing magic on them. The fight was much bloodier than I anticipated but the heroes burn some healing and continue on.
About half way up the crag they find a deep pool. The path past it lies between the pool and a long drop. Carefully, watching the pool for monsters, they begin to edge around the pool. To no-one's surprise a few large drakes leap up out of the water, their wings beating as they take to the air. In the battle I knock the ranger of the cliff, but that's okay as he has awesome reflexes and is able to catch himself before plummeting to his doom. After this the only tempting target was the halfling sorcerer, who was also standing on the cliff's edge. A drake charges him and... misses. The drakes are then dispatched quite quickly and the heroes carry on up the steep crag.
Finally at the top of the crag they approach the tower. The imprisoned lover sits in a small cage that hangs from the parapets at the top of the tower. One of the heroes (the paladin I think?) calls out to the prisoner "Don't worry, we'll rescue you." Several other characters sigh deeply.
The tower door swings open at their approach and a warm, welcoming light streams out into the cold, wet night. The heroes peak through the door and see a room that is decorated like an undersea grotto; all shells, frescoes of frolicking dolphins, etc. Amidst the room stand three beautiful women who welcome the heroes into their home. Not even the paladin is falling for this one but they enter anyway. The women claim they are goddesses and that their prisoner has committed the crime of spying upon them while they were bathing.
At this point my wife, who knows me too well, says "They're hags under an illusion aren't they."
But the heroes are still the good guys and don't go all sword-swingy without provocation. While the heroes converse with the "goddesses" they are being subjected to their Evil Eye power. This has the effect of staggering the target. (Think of it as SPD drain.) The heroes must make PER rolls (actually sense motive rolls) to notice the hags' subtle attacks. It takes a round but one of them (the cleric I think) does notice and accuses the "goddesses" of cursing them. Weapons are drawn and the fight is on. It's a bit drawn out, the SPD drain slows things down and the hags are able to retreat up the stairs to a higher level of the tower. Two characters (dwarven twins, both warriors) go down under the hags' Evil Eye, cursed and dying. But in the end the hags are not able to match the heroes in a stand up fight. Luckily the heroes had shown some forethought and had purchased potions to remove curses and both twins were saved.
They then rescue the marid's lover, a man called Sherbad. He looks like a young Omar Sharif. As quickly as they can they get back to their boat and sail away, to rendezvous with their ship. Back aboard the Wave Cutter they set all their sail and head away from Dragon Turtle island as fast as they can. The heroes have of course been talking to Sherbad and how his lover sent them to rescue them. Up until now Sherbad had been playing with a very good poker face and hiding his true feelings. But now, many miles from his prison, he admits that he isn't all that keen to see Hai al-Sabd again. He had in fact been running away from her when he'd been captured by the hags. He begs and pleads with the heroes not to call the marid.
There followed a pretty long debate about what to do. Som epeople pointed out that Sherbad was clearly a douche. (He is. No doubt about it, I played him that way.) In the end they decided to get to where they needed to be, and be onshore when they summoned Hai al-Sabd. From the safety of the dunes, about 50m back from the waterline, Sherbad explained that he was no longer keen adn that they should see other people. It was, he explained, him, not her. That's about when Sherbad legged it inland. Don't worry, he'll be back.
The heroes then go on to argue that Hai al-Sabd now owed them a casket of pearls. They Point out that she had asked them to rescue Sherbad, which they had done. Angry, hurt, and crying the marid throws the casket of pearls upon the sands and leaves.
The heroes have reached the land of Axum and are now planning their journey westward to find the mountain known as The Pillar of the Sky and the Valley of Dead Fire that lies inn its shadow.