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Comments: 9
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Rating: 4.0714
Condition: Normal
ID: 3303


September 19, 2008, 12:53 pm

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The Lady Tantalia


A ship, drifting through the mists, with not a soul visible on her deck.  Haunted? Yes, but not the way that you might expect…

The Ghost Ship
She loomed out of the mist, a two-masted caravel.  Behind her frightening figurehead of an angry-looking gorgon, we could make out her name,

The Lady Tantalia

.  Clearly an old ship, she had been wrought in the style of the previous century, yet her paintwork was bright and her worn ironwork was still whole and clean.  Not a soul could be seen on her decks as she drifted through the unearthly fog.  Chains and lines hung sloppily over various parts of the ship’s rail, to no purpose that we could then divine.

Hearing no response to our hails, I readied a prize crew to board the silent vessel.  Captain Bradigoss was reluctant at first, but finally agreed to allow it.  Filled with unease, the grizzled old salt ordered me sternly to take the ship’s strongest fighters, but couldn’t name any particular reason.

Once aboard her, we soon found signs of heavy fighting.  Blood and debris littered her below decks, and the stench of death filled her, worse than a charnel house in the summer’s heat.  There in the depths of the accursed ship, we were set upon; sailors staggered forth from the shadows, wildly swinging knives and cutlasses, any weapon that lay to hand.  At first, the men struck back, slaying several of the mariners.  Then, as our eyes adjusted to the gloom, we could see that these men had no eyes!  Bleeding holes yawned where their eyes should have been, and as their mouths opened in inarticulate screams of rage and pain, we could see that their tongues had been rudely hacked out as well!  Unwilling to massacre these accursed wretches out of hand and hearing the noise of others approaching from the lower deck, we fell back, retreating to our longboat. 

In our preliminary exploration of the uncanny vessel, I had found a book that appeared to be the captain’s log.  Once we were safely away from the vessel, I took the opportunity to glance through it, hoping to find some clue about whatever bizarre misfortune had stuck the crew of The Lady Tantalia.  The journal’s entries shed little light upon the situation, but what hints they provided were very disquieting:

The Log of Captain Shahnersson

Month of the Scarlet Dome, Feast Eve of St. Diofaldus:  Set out from Inglesborg with a full cargo of Eastern cloth.  Men in good spirits, in expectation of rich bonus upon our return to Empire ports. Some clouds, gusty winds.  Ordered men to reduce sail in expectation of storms, but captain hopes to outrun worst of it.

Several entries later:

Month of the Scarlet Dome, Eve of Desrettis Fast:  Finally, fair weather!  Men’s spirits improving at passing of storm and lower seas; some damage reported to sheets and storm sails.  Encountered wreckage floating in water, apparently from merchant vessel foundered in storm; items recovered included several barrels of grog, one watertight chest containing small personal effects, and a figurehead in good condition.


The next day something unusual happened:

Month of the Scarlet Dome, Day of Desrettis Fast:  Vessel damaged by collision with unknown object.  Some damage to bowsprit, the figurehead, and along port side of vessel.  Five crewmen (followed by names) injured in collision, but hull damage repaired by ship’s carpenter.  Figurehead replaced by one recovered from wreck; some grumbling among crew, as new figurehead is of gorgon; more suited to warship than trader.

A week after that:

Month of Griffons Fall, Day of Harvest Calling:  Ship’s Surgeon believes illness is aboard, but cannot identify.  Several sailors unable to sleep, claim a ghost aboard ship.  They claim to have been bitten by ghost of poisonous snake, each has black spot on limb.  Men sent to search crew quarters for snakes; some nuisance contraband found, but no reptiles.  Some reports of woman on vessel, but no women found in search.

The final entry:

(Undated, in a different hand) Captain and Lieutenant dead of stony curse; most men have spot on limb; other men missing altogether; Sailors with spots tearing own eyes out and cutting own tongues, claim only way to survive is to serve lady.  Lady strong and solid now, killing any who resist her with stony curse.

As our longboat fell behind the drifting ship, I again noticed the lines and chains dangling from the vessel silently drifting closer to our ship; especially a stout chain trailing into the depths, with objects hanging from it.  If only I hadnt kept looking!  If only the water had been less clear!  I could have been spared the sight of dozens of sailors, their faces bearing expressions of utmost agony and horror, men transformed into statues of solid stone!

After we made it back to the ship, the Captain had us arm ourselves and wait, all hands standing silently on deck.  In the calm seas, we could see the accursed vessel drifting nearer, her decks now packed with members of her blind and accursed crew.  Through the mists, we couldn’t quite make out the female shape that stood among them, noting only the suggestion of writhing serpents on her head and the hissing voice that commanded her crew of blind madmen.

Somehow I sensed that, when we were close enough to board, all our swords and axes would be futile; this day would end with none alive but the blind and the mad.

This encounter is meant to be a bit bizarre and surreal, with off-key scenes of horror that will catch the PCs off guard.

The steps needed to destroy this dreadful undead gorgon are unclear.  Perhaps the destruction of the gorgon figurehead would suffice, or perhaps she has grown too strong for that.  She is likely to try to infiltrate another ship if hers is destroyed, taking the shape of a ghostly sea viper and biting the sailors when they are in darkened areas.  Her ghostly bite is not lethal, but drives men mad; those bitten may hear her voice in the darkness, inviting them to make that darkness last forever.  Her tendency to keep trophies dangling in the water around the ship may give warning to others about the threat that awaits them.

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Comments ( 9 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Dragon Lord
November 7, 2006, 10:03
Arrhhgg – its’ got tentacles – run for your lives

Pure horror of the CoC variety

Great fun – 4/5
Voted valadaar
November 7, 2006, 13:34
A great take on the Gorgon! Though there seems to be a theme of tongue removal these days :)
Voted Murometz
November 7, 2006, 14:21
I'm a sucker for eerie journal entries, no matter how many of them we may get here at the citadel.

"This encounter is meant to be a bit bizarre and surreal, with off-key scenes of horror that will catch the PCs off guard"

That is exactly what it accomplishes! Nice tale.
Voted manfred
November 7, 2006, 14:40
I dare to guess that the blind sailors can see rather well, at least whenever their Lady wishes them to see what she sees.

Nice detail with the log entries, and the names of the days, btw.
Voted Scrasamax
November 7, 2006, 16:04
I like the thought of a cursed bowspirit coming to life and taking command of a ship, could there be a more terrible and wicked pirate?
Voted Cheka Man
November 7, 2006, 19:17
How does one deal with it?
Voted epsilon
July 9, 2007, 21:13
Neat thoughts and merge with the gorgon and pirate theme. Could be bent in any direction.
Pulled their own eyes out to stop themselves seeing the missus.. Brilliant tee hee
Barbarian Horde
February 13, 2008, 18:40
Read it. Defiantly deserving of it's 4/5 stars.
February 13, 2008, 19:45
Join up and vote Mr. Horde!

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Random Idea Seed View All Idea Seeds

Hu's Iron Ball

       By: Murometz

Hu was an ambassador of the Seventh Emperor of the Reng Dynasty. Throughout his life he traveled across many miles and lands to entreaty with neighboring kingdoms and the semi-savages who dwelled amidst the Metal Mountains.

During one such diplomatic mission, Hu was gifted a small iron marble as a gesture, by a shaman of the Kiy-Kiy tribe. Little else is known of Hu, but that marble was lost and is now somewhere out there for someone to find.

A tiny, shiny sphere, the marble has several properties. First and foremost it is a strong magnet, considerably stronger than its size and density would indicate.

Secondly, if thrown or rolled upon the ground and the command word is spoken, the iron ball will magically enlarge to either the size of an ogres's head or to that of a great globe, twelve feet in diameter. The rolling ball of either size will continue to roll or fly at the same relative speed it was when launched as a marble, and can thus cause great damage to anything in its path. The magnetic power of the ball will also magnify when enlarged.

Legends claim that the ball has been tossed from besieged castles upon attacking foes and rolled at marching armies in ages past. At the end of such rolls, the larger size globe has been known to not only crush soldiers underfoot, but to also "collect" many dozens of metallic weapons and bits of armor unto itself, appearing as an armored sphere, with swords and spears sticking out from it in all directions.

Owning this powerful marble has its drawbacks. Anyone carrying it on their person, will experience the iron ball's insidious effects after some time. The owner feels no worse for wear, but after two month's time they will suddenly awaken one morning to find that their hair has fallen out completely, their teeth loosened like baby's teeth ready to drop, and their fingernails simply shriveled and sliding off the fingers and toes. Perhaps unbeknownst to the owner at first, the iron ball also renders an owner sterile or barren by this time.

Regular clerical healing will not reverse this horrible malady. Only finding and beseeching a shaman of the Kiy-Kiy tribe to heal the iron ball's effects with their particular brand of magic, will work.

Hu's Iron Ball should be handled carefully by players and gms.

Ideas  ( Items ) | March 8, 2014 | View | UpVote 3xp

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