On Monday, January 20th, most of the experienced Citadel House adventurers are still tired from a visit to the elven facility marked “Tuv.” As a result, and despite warming weather and much of the snow melting, Verdis is unable to find companions for his mission to revisit the Midnight Queen river boat he and Simon discovered on their way to the Southern ocean. He goes anyway with one of the communication devices and a little over a week of food, hoping to have a day or so to explore the grounded boat:
- Verdis the Prickly (HuS): Level 6 Human Fighter
- Pet Rock Phineas
His two and a half day journey to the boat is unhindered by other encounters and he finds it as it was on his previous visit. Not wanting to get wet in the freezing water of the river, he takes a couple hours cutting down a couple trees and preparing them to serve as a rough ramp up to the deck of the boat.
Once on the deck, he explores freely, finding a ballroom, stage, and balcony. On the floor above the main deck, he searches a dozen rooms, finding assorted coins and a water skin full of inexplicably fresh water. On the top deck, he searches a further 16 rooms, finding more coins and a signet ring with an embellished elven “F”. Before nightfall, he checks out the captain’s tower at the top of the boat, finding map of the river which he takes with him.
He sleeps in one of the empty bedrooms, locking the door and blocking it with a chair from inside. In the morning, he searches the four bedrooms on the main deck level that are completely out of the water, finding another few coins. Thinking he still has a few hours before he needs to head back, he determines to go below deck again, this time resolved to fight the crab people he and Simon had left alone if they opposed him. His entry through the forward hatch is far from stealthy as he throws one of the cushioned chairs from the ballroom sitting room down to make climbing out easier in a hurry.
Verdis jumps down into the half dark and, not hearing any response, lights his lantern. All is as before, a galley with mysterious metalwork beyond. He advances carefully and soon sees Brachyids watching him on the edge of and out of the water.
Hanging the lantern from his belt, Verdis looses an arrow into the nearest crab and they rush him. Verdis wins the initiative and without sustaining too much injury slays two of them, but soon is overwhelmed and pushed into a corner by three and later a fourth crab, their many attacks overwhelming his defensive capabilities to the point that he starts accidentally striking himself with bad parries and setting himself off balance with stumbling dodges. In the melee, a crab gets its claw around his waist, crushing the lantern.
Severely wounded and not accustomed to the half light, Verdis makes for the hatch amid reflexive attacks. With bad rolls and a rain-wet deck above, he fails two attempts to pull himself up and is forced to jump from the chair to evade spear attacks from two of the crabs as they attempt to scuttle into claw range. In a final effort to escape, he suffers two reflexive attacks from those spears within reach to jump up onto the chair and pull himself up through hatch, finally succeeding and making it into the daylight above.
After a couple healing spells, Verdis is exhausted, but in much better condition. He staggers to the nearest room, locking and blocking the door before collapsing into the bed. The scuttling outside subsides and he gets a couple hours sleep before Phineas awakes him to begin the long walk back to the Vale.
On the way back, he again avoids any encounter, though some wolves pass during one night, and makes it back to Citadel late Saturday night, almost too exhausted to walk and lucky just to be alive.