After a well deserved rest in at the Hillsdown Inn, Selly, Brash, Murchun Squib, and I sojourned south to the coast. The road was well traveled and we arrived at Hillsdown Pier in the early morning.
We were greeted at the outskirts by an excited young halfling, who informed us of the directions to various popular locales nearby, omitting Briarton unsurprisingly. He was perplexed by our insistence that it was Hillsdown Pier that we were looking for, and stupefied that our next destination was White Scale Light.
Ian Thornberry, our welcomer, explained to us that no fisherman in Hillsdown Pier would be foolish enough to brave the proximity to White Scale Light required to allow us to disembark; none save Captain Poppyhop.
Since Captain Poppyhop was apparently our only option, and he had yet to return from his latest excursion, we settled down to await his arrival.
We did not have long to wait, a peg-legged halfling stomped his way up to us and began lambasting the outsiders in a manner as salty as the seas he had returned from. While he did this, I noticed that the insole of the foot of his prosthetic had been fitted with a postiche.
As he lit into each of us in turn, commenting on Murchun’s physiognomy, Selly’s beard, Brash’s intellect, and my bagpipes. It became evident to me that there was no malice in his words, so I willfully ignored the impugnations and somberly explained our mission to White Scale Light to him, and flattered his ego with references to his being the sole Captain intrepid enough to transport us.
As we embarked upon the SeaSythe, a dark-hulled, white-sailed fishing vessel is was readily apparent that this ship would definitely convey us to White Scale Light easily; she was well maintained with no rot nor ruin apparant. Captain Poppyhop took good care of his property. The first mate Puddy, his son and incidentally the entirety of the crew, welcomed each of aboard and cautioned us to take seats as we cast off and proceeded underway.
The SeaSythe glided its way through the sea gracefully, and long before I expected to arrive, we needed to prepare to disembark. Captain Poppyhop explained to us that the mists surrounding White Scale Light hindered navigation drastically, so that was would be unable to set us upon the beach, we would need to swim in a short ways.
I took a moment to coordinate with Captain Poppyhop our means of return. He was incredulous that we would need return transportation, but described a simple sequence to broadcast using the lighthouse and he would return to our disembarkation site upon receipt.
I contemplated inspiring my comrades with a speech prior to entering the water, but decided that it would be too cliche. Plus Brash was already over the side as I checked my gear. Selly kindly offered to carry my pack, but I knew he had enough equipment of his own to carry; plus I have organized my equipment using a system that maximizes efficiency in emergency situations.
Through the mists we could see the blurry outlines of numerous shipwrecks; Captain Poppyhop’s concerns were well founded. As the shoreline came into focus, we were suddenly beset by a small group of waterlogged ghouls.
As I began the Song of Heroes, Murchun Squib and Selly engaged in melee with the ghouls, and Brash sunk below the waves. I was briefly concerned, until I witnessed his hair breach the surface like the dorsal fin of some sea-creature as he sliced through the surf towards the ghouls surrounding Murchun.
Moments later, Brash breached the surface with a roar and in a flurry of limbs and a flash of steel, only flotsam surrounded Murchun and Brash was gliding towards the next group. My attention was so focused upon his performance, I failed to notice a trio of skeletal archers take position atop the shipwrecks and fire upon us.
I sent a volley of arcane force at the farthest archer, but while I did so, a Harpy appeared and screeched her arrival, disrupting the complex harmonies of the Song of Heroes with her clamor. Despite her success, she fled soon after witnessing a horde of ghouls assailing Selly vanish in a flash of holy radiance; we followed her to the lighthouse.
Airborne, the harpy was able to enter to top of the lighthouse while we were still avoiding terrain impediments. As we approached, I learned why this island was called White Scale Light. The structure was crafted to resemble the smooth interlocking integument of armored reptiles, in a spectrum of white chromaticities.
Upon our arrival, we saw numerous dark shapes on the upper floor of the lighthouse retracting a pair of rope ladders on either side. As we circled the structure for ingress, we located a set of double doors. When we approached the entry, a frightful dissonance came from inside. We were all forced to shield ourselves from the aural assault.
Brash was the first to recover, and rushed to the entryway and flung to doors wide. Inside was a hideous conflation of corvid and ursid. It repeatedly ca-cawed as it lunged at us. I quickly launched the Song of Heroes to ameliorate the horrid cacophony the beast was emitting.
Murchun Squib attempted to speak with the monstrosity, but it was either incapable or unwilling to reply. While my allies engaged the beast, and I musically encouraged their efforts, I gave an examination of the upper floors of the lighthouse.
There was a stairway inside, but there was a crude barricade impeding ascension. The dark shapes that had retracted the rope ladders appeared to be more Dark Creepers, I attempted to dislodge the ladders using Prestidigitation, but my initial attempts were unsuccessful.
Although the “Howlbear” refused to converse with Murchun, it did respond to axe and spear. It retreated to a far corner of the interior; we let it. When its back was to me, I noticed it was outfitted with some manner of tackle.
Brash, Murchun, and Selly cleared the barricade while I attempted to simultaneously lower a rope ladder and maintain a complex harmony to drown the wounded Howlbear’s wails of torment.
I was still attempting to lower the ladder as the rest of the clan ascended the staircase and were carefully negotiating a precariously narrow beam spanning the gap above the ground-level doorway. Once they were fully committed to crossing the beam, the Dark Creepers attacked.
I was finally able to dislodge the rope ladder and ascend to the upper level behind the Creepers as Murchun, Selly, and Brash made quick work of their two nearest foes, but the resulting alchemical explosions momentarily blinded them.
While dispatching the final Creeper, Brash slipped on the residue of the combusted adversaries, and plummeted to the room below. The Howlbear went to investigate, hoping for easy prey, but I was able to verbally direct Brash to the ladder and he was by our side once again.
We climbed up the staircase to the top of the tower, and unfortunately found it empty. The harpy had destroyed a number of journals and letters, which even Mend could not fully restore. We were able to ascertain from the fragments, that there has been a coordinated effort to attack both Greenbriar and Hillsdown, and it appears that the Crusader is involved. From the letters, the harpy is apparently named Thrallherd Cradleburn of Fortress Firefang. There is also evidence to suggest that the Prince of Shadows is the originator of the alchemical formula to construct Dark Creepers, but may have simply sold or shared the recipe, and has no direct role in the recent attacks on Hillsdown.