The Vilyani Islands, a strange and unknown archipelago, is where humanity first made landfall on Ilatari, from their own strange and starless land to the East – or so the tales go, stories from old elves who remember what their fathers and grandfathers said.
But mankind would soon abandon the islands, leaving them to the dead, and to the Old Gods. They faded into myth as humanity spread on Ilatari’s shores, the shrines and temples left behind mostly forgotten, remnants of a different age, of a different world, of ancient gods and lost magic. It is to these islands an arcanist named Amrit Saithya set her course, in search of some ancient mystery pertaining to those early humans – a source of the great power that allowed them to traverse the ocean on their mythical ships. She’s been gone for months.
Now, however, it seems she may have found what she’s looking for. A great blaze was seen across the heavens in the east, reported by sailors and fishermen – whatever it was Amrit Saithya did, something has changed. A few days later, a secretive messenger arrived from her college, the House of the Spiral Flame, with word: Amrit Saithya has succeeded in her task, and is now in terrible danger. She needs help from someone she can trust.
Yet other parties are surely interested in the discovery at the forbidding Vilyani Islands. The omen in the sky draws other explorers, with less benevolent motives. They seek the lost treasures of ancient Men, and the lore so securely hidden among those secretive shores.
Our heroes have now explored Waikiti’s Eye and Witch’s Rock, and found that the ancient lighthouse of the First Men is once again lit, but remains sealed with the power of the four elements. Amrit Saithya searched for the elemental keys across the nine islands. They also learned that the Olowalu have three tasks for any human who would gain access to their magical caves, to show worthiness through Stewardship by saving their kin. These three tasks are to save the tribesmen of Blackdrum from a great beast, save the humans of Crescent Dream from slavery, and intervene in the madness of the witches of Starfall.
The powder-smuggler Zarohno on Witch’s Rock told them Amrit Saithya had visited at least three islands besides Witch’s Rock, namely Dragon’s Garden, Starfall, and Trackless, presumably in search of the elemental keys. She also visited Waikiti’s Eye, but failed to gain the respect of the Olowalu.
The heroes became embroiled in a rivalry between Zarohno and the merchant Lombardo, the latter who sought to claim the ancient light-house for himself to present to the witch Tatalya. They decided to pay him a visit…
Lombardo declined to cooperate with the heroes, who broke out into violence and swiftly finished him off, sparing all of his soldiers. The two mercenaries Silas the Ranger and Hadari the Swashbuckler were turned to Zarohno’s cause. The crew of the King’s Tithe looted Lombardo’s coffers, and Captain Shale decreed his mansion was to be torn down. He promised Lombardo’s ship, the Golden Goose, to Hadari if she remained loyal to his cause.
A night of celebration ensued, during which the bard Kendrick and the two dancers Iry and Keris joined the crew at least temporarily. Carousing ensued for a full night. The following day, Lorelei spotted a lone seagull, an omen of an approaching witch. She also made plans to smuggle Kahlia, Zarohno’s daughter, on board the ship as she desired a life of adventure.
Sabine disguised Kahlia as a sailor to get her past Serander’s watchful eye, then successfully hid her in a stash of clothes taken from Lombardo. The ship presently set sail, after Lorelei and Shale agreed on Dragon’s Garden as their next destination, in search of Amrit Saithya’s trail. After a few hours of calm sailing, Lorelei’s albatross spotted shadows in the water – sahuagin. The vicious shark men had clearly been tipped off by someone. Storming the ship led by a massive four-armed warrior the creatures killed one sailor, badly injured another and inflicted a grievous wound on Serander. In the fight, Kahlia leaped out of hiding to help. After the creatures had been driven back to the sea and their leader slain, Shale confronted Lorelei and Sabine about the stowaway, and threw Kahlia in the brig at the bottom of the ship. Shale, upset about the betrayal and being forced to shirk his duties as captain, kicked out Sabine of his quarters, ordered that the bard Kendrick should disembark in next port (as punishment to Lorelei, who had brought him) but withheld lashing anyone, as he needed them at top ability for the dangerous mission ahead.
After this incident, Sabine finally told the Captain about her quest to find her mother, and that that’s why she had sided with Lorelei. The crew began to whisper that the witch now had her grip on Sabine, sowing mistrust in the second mate. The ship finally arrived at Dragon’s Garden, where arrangements were made to celebrate the victory against the sahuagin warriors.
Recruiting Kahlia from the hold on the ship, the players made landfall and feasted along the people of Dragon’s Garden. They heard from the alderman that Amrit Saithya had indeed been on the island, and ventured into the jungle accompanied by the dancer, Tyana. She had returned feverish and delirious, but said something about a “castle” inland, which the locals swear could not exist, as building anything in the jungle is strictly forbidden. Their simple religion had few points, but respect for the plants was one, heroic ancestor-tales was another, and belief in a “great turtle” the third.
Shale’s curiosity was piqued, as this castle might be important, and so he persuaded Tyana to guide them and Kahlia to assist them in navigating through the wilderness. After a day and a half of feasting, he left the ship in the care of Serander and gathered the party to venture forth. There were many perils in the jungle, plant-monsters that attacked the heroes viciously.
Lorelei learned during the trek that the island had risen from the deep at some point in the past, and that its magics had adapted. A strange tree of dead coral was one such clue, the aquatic-like movements of the plant-creatures another and Tyana’s strange winding dance a third. As Kahlia was briefly infected with the hivemind, Lorelei looked into her memories and saw the vast mind of Dragon’s Garden.
After resting at a dancing-site, the party ventured on, and vanquished a horrible moss monster breathing green fire.
Venturing further into the island, the party soon comes upon a strange fish-man snared by assassin vines, trying to choke the life from him. They intervene and rescue him. Lorelei recognizes him as one of the locathah, strange deep-sea dwellers who come from the borders of the Underdeep, little known even to the merfolk. He was fleeing from some other monster and warns them to run inland. Together with the locathah, they flee and come to a strange temple, grown from living coral in some ancient time. There, the locathah named Tlocleh introduces them to an old locathah oracle.
The oracle explains that the Great Coral Dragon Iggurath once imbued this place with magic, but it was ripped from the depths by the machinations of another dragon. Since then, the locathah have gone on pilgrimages above the ocean surface to commune with the dragon, who has been dormant for many centuries. They must now inform him that the lighthouse has been lit.
As thanks for saving Tlocleh, the oracle reveals the location of the three enemy ships, finding them through magic. The Sable Drake is moored at Blackdrum, the Argent Eagle at Witch’s Rock, and the Scarlet Swan going west from Starfall, probably headed for Crescent Dream. The party fashion a canoe out of a tree and ride it down the steep slope to the ocean, where Lorelei summons a shoal of dolphins to pull the canoe back to the King’s Tithe. They set off, bound for the Cauldron, which was Amrit’s next destination.