Burning Aquasphere

Episode 0: Visions of Steam & Fire

A Vision

Captain Valencio Monterosa has experienced a strange dream of an island wreathed in steam and fire. He believes this dream harbors clues about an impending Apocalypse. Addressing the crew, he announces his intention to guide the ship to the island from his dream. The crew are spooked, and when the first mate contradicts the captain in front of them, the captain makes his claim to command known with a casting of The Fear — a terrible spell that halts the first mate in his tracks, overcome with terror for a brief moment. It’s a warning not quickly forgotten.

A Rough Voyage

Captain Monterosa consults the cracks in the Aurum, it’s orbiting bodies and his charts but after a crazed night of frustration, only has a guess about the location of the island in his dream. He spurs the ship onward nonetheless. Over the next few days a strange fog starts enveloping the ship, and the crew begin to doubt their destination. Sanga, the bosun, intimidates them back into shape however — quelling complaints and maintaining discipline. Meanwhile, the first mate, Maelstromus, continues shirking his duties and deferring to the bosun — leading to some beginner’s mistakes in managing the ship’s supplies. The ship’s cook shows up at his door, furious at the maggot-ridden biscuits that were not stored in a dryer hold on the ship. Paranoid about the ship in this dread fog, Eigon paces the decks checking the rigging and knots — however a wild, forceful wind looses a sale in the dead of night, driving the ship aground on an atoll surrounding a mysterious fire-wreathed black spire. Was this the island from the captain’s dream?

The Expedition Ashore

The captain orders four crewmen onto the lifeboat, but they agree only to accompany him as far as the shore of the strange island. The party of four venture on into the strangely quiet island alone, noticing it’s bizarre lack of birds or signs of life. It’s extremely difficult to navigate the cursed black jungle, and after a day of wandering the crew makes camp. A howling wind blows thru the trees, extinguishing their campfire. As Eigon tries to relight it, he catches a glimpse of a tremendous panther creeping into the clearing noiselessly. There’s a howl and a scream as the bosun and first mate try to block the panther’s path, but are unsuccessful as the great cat rends a flesh wound in the captain’s ribs. Captain Monterosa instantly opens his eyes, shooting forth a tremendous blazing stream of fire from his fingertips — spooking the panther and driving it off as quickly as it came. This leaves him exhausted, however — as he passes out and must rest.

The Hell Mount

The next day, the party reaches the entrance to a mysterious cave — the dwarf pointing out it obviously was not made by natural means. The party ventures forth with trepidation, reaching a hollow shaft running thru the black crag from its top to unknown depths. The captain pauses in terror — he knows what this is — it’s a Hellmount! Truly a harbinger of the apocalypse — a gateway to nether regions terrifying and unearthly. The first mate sneers — he’s heard these legends before — nothing but children’s tales! To prove the captain wrong, he utters those accursed syllables from an ancient legend — the ones that triggered the opening of an infernal gate like this in the tale of Hyperion & The Underworld. But the words do not fall on deaf ears, as the island starts trembling and the hell mount opening up a flow of lava. The bosun yells at the party to run, and throws them in line ahead of him.

Retreat!

The race thru the jungle is maddening, and the party has to fall back to help the dwarf as he falls, breathless from the race. A stream of lava intersecting their path back to the beach where their ship is docked. Soon they are faced with a sheer cliff on another side of the island. The dwarf fashions a makeshift grappling hook out of an arrow and a rope, shooting it into a nearby tree — but the weight catches, and the grip is not quite enough to prevent him from plummeting to the ground below, fracturing his shin. The others climb down, the captain and first mate also suffering severe bruises as they haphazardly tumble the last several feet down the cliffside.

The island burns, soon leaving nothing but a steaming whirlpool beginning to develop as it sinks into the sea…

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