The heroes headed out to Fisher’s Folly where Elynasi used his silver tongue to haggle with the smarmy fishermen. He hired a man named Habe to row the party to Shargon’s Talon. As the boat left the harbor black thunderhead clouds rolled in and lightning flashed in the distance. Duragilis instructed Habe to bring them in from the side under the cover of the lengthening shadows of night.. Habe did so, but would not stay his boat for very long, fearful of the cultists and what might happen to him.
Shargon’s Talon loomed before the adventurers, a 50 foot tower of worked stone, angled back like the curved claw of a gargantuan sea creature. Duragilis led the group up the stairs to the entry as thunder boomed from above and lightning burst around the tower. He cracked the door open and pale green light poured out of the doorway. They headed inward, ducking through a broken doorway to the right. Drudge and Elynasi crept into the shadows searching for signs of Sahuagin.
“There they are!” are voice shouted in slurping common. At the far end of the ritual chamber a Sahuagin priest in kelp robes pointed his trident at Elynasi. “Feast on their flesh my minions.”
The battle was swift and deadly. Naali drew the attention of the largest Sahuagin while Drudge and Nei held off more guards who circled around from behind. Elynasi teleported behind the sahuagin brutes and rushed the priest. As he did so the floor dropped out beneath him but he did not fall into the illusionary trap. He struck the priest down but found a new adversary. A figure dressed in black robes that had a violet metallic sheen.
Elrick crept around behind his companions and struck at the sea devils as best he could. They were finished quickly, but Elynasi was not so lucky against the illusionist. He was assailed by a shadowy knight and struck down. The caster then ran for the hole in the middle of the chamber. Just before it jumped below the hood flew back revealing the curved horns and red-tinged skin of a tiefling female. Her dark eyes locked with those of Elrick.
“You!” she boomed as he eyes widened. Her mouth wrinkled into a snarl. “We will meet again soon enough, and I will end you once and for all!” Elrick looked from one party member to the other in surprise. As he turned back to the Tiefling hoping for an explanation she jumped into the hole and disappeared below, but as she did so a small roll of parchment fell out of her robes.
Seemingly safe for the time being, the heroes inspected the chamber. Nei read the parchment. It read, “Crypt of the Guard… Farram Goldenhawk.” The others heard muffled voices in a back room. There they found a dark haired elven woman and an elderly sahuagin. Both were bruised, battered and bound at the hands and feet. Elrick loosed their bindings with a flourish of magic. After being assured by the party that they weren’t there to kill them, the elf woman, Seryssa, explained what had happened. A person named Korel, leading a group called the Raiders of the Grey Pearl, had attacked the temple days earlier, taking its priests hostage and killing the rest of the cult members who would not ally themselves with him. Seryssa told the heroes that Korel was below performing a hideous ritual, but before she could go into details the sahuagin priest, Khalaash hushed her. Just then horrific screams echoed from below.
The party rushed to the opening in the floor. Four blood-soaked chains dangled from the stonework maw in the floor down into the chamber below. One by one they carefully lowered themselves down. Nei was the first to slip, but she activated her compass at the last minute and teleported safely to the pool of blood below. Elrick was not so lucky, and he dropped the final 20 feet crashing flat on his back into the blood pool.
“You are finally here,” said a figure standing before a stone altar at one end of the chamber. On the altar was the prostrate figure of a young girl with a ritual dagger plunged deep into her chest; her blood dripped down from the altar, joining with that streaming from the pool in the chamber’s center. Korel turned to face the heroes revealing himself. He wasn’t a sahuagin at all, but rather an elf. With a flare of his cape he brandished a pair of darkwood wands and shouted, “You are too late. The transformation is already finished.” Drudge fired an arrow at him, cutting Korel’s soliloquy short. The elf responded by summoning a blood elemental from the pool. Under his control the mass of blood whirled around into a vortex which sent Nei and Drudge flying. It then dissolved back into the pool and reappeared 30 feet away in one of the thick streams of blood toward the chamber’s northeast corner. Elynasi and Naali charged the creature, slicing into its liquid mass. Nei was beset by another sahuagin on the opposite side of the chamber. It threw a harpoon which lanced through her. She howled painfully as the sahuagin pulled the rope and sent her sprawling forward in a bloody heap. Seeing his chance, Elrick rushed up the steps leading to the dais where Korel stood. On either side of him crept two sahuagin warriors with tridents and barbed nets.
“You dare challenge me alone?” snickered Korel. Elrick stared at him defiantly and glanced at the two sahuagin closing in on him.
“Oh, no no no. Not you alone. I’ll take your fish friends too, and sushi isn’t on the menu, Korel. Only barbeque!” He raised his hands towards the heavens and plunged them towards the ground bathing the stairs and dais in flames. Korel jumped back in pain and his guardians howled as the smell of their charred flesh filled the air.
“Kill him! In the name of the Devourer and K’Shegla, take his pathetic life!” ordered Korel. The sahuagin encircled Elrick, slashing and impaling him with their tridents. Elrick fired silvery bolts of eldritch energy at them, but he was overpowered by the sahuagin soldiers. As he lay on the cold stone floor fighting to stay conscious, his blood mixing with that of the ritual victims, Elrick thought PLEASE don’t let them turn me into a zombie…
Meanwhile, Elynasi and Naali finished off the blood elemental. Drudge struggled against Korel’s blinding wand attacks, but was able to connect on several shots against the sahuagin warriors who now stood over Elrick’s body. Outmatched by the harpooner, Nei summoned a servant of magical energy to fight by her side and eventually the two overcame the deadly sea devil.
It was finally down to Korel and one final sahuagin warrior. Naali was having difficulty felling the warrior, so Elynasi rushed to her aid. However, Korel struck him with powerful psychic magic sending images of ravenous sharks attacking him from the depths below. The eladrin stopped mid-strike under the onslaught, but before he fell he saw Korel’s true face. He was no elf. His eyes were deep red without pupils. His flesh had a bluish tinge and some areas were covered with delicate, transparent scales. His hands were clawed and his teeth were serrated like a shark’s. He was a monster but something about him was eerily familiar. Elynasi looked at Naali, his eyes wide, unable to comprehend what he was seeing under the intense pain. Korel gave him a wicked smile.
“It can’t be. You are elad…?” he moaned, and then he fell.
The remaining heroes redoubled their efforts as Korel and his remaining soldier occupied all the attention. Finally overcoming the blinding effects of Korel’s magic, Drudge loosed arrow after arrow which wounded Korel. After being severely wounded herself Naali hefted her sword and struck the sahuagin warrior with a mighty slash across his throat, his cold blood spraying across her face. Nei rushed to Drudge’s side, her obedient servant in tow. The magical construct fired a bolt, sending Korel ducking for cover. As they surrounded him, encircling slowly, looking for the finishing shot, Korel began chuckling maniacally, wheezing between his threats.
“It doesn’t matter if I live or die… The K’Shegla will be reborn as Shirrin-Kho… He will rise from the depths… He will devour Stormreach… You will all die… Everything will die!” Drudge loosed an arrow as Naali jumped at Korel swinging her sword. Her sword sliced right through him as blood splashed in her face when Drudge’s arrow hit home.
“Look!” shouted Nei, her voice cracking. “Oh my…” Korel stood no more, but in his place was a pillar of blood, and just like his creature is retreated back into the stream at their feet. Drudge raced up to the dissipating pillar, arrow knocked. While Nei shook her head Naali looked frantically around the chamber. Sinister laughter echoed from every corner. Korel had teleported away from his attackers to the edge of the pit leading into darkness.
“You may have killed my soldiers, but thanks to that pathetic whelp Elmo I have created many more like me, a band of malenti to do K’Shegla’s bidding. We now swim in the sea and walk the land. Soon K’Shegla will rule the Thunder Sea and Xen’drik as well.” Korel stood poised at the opposite side of the chamber, at the edge of a great pit. “It’s a shame really. I told that waste of life Elmo I would give him his daughter back after just one more delivery. Poor girl,” he continued, waving his wand wantonly at the stone altar. “What a horrible way to DIE!” He loosed another bolt of freezing energy which crashed into the heroes with a resounding boom.
Nei was the first to awaken. Her companions lie strewn all around the blood soaked room. She slowly pushed herself up, grimacing in pain, and began hobbling over to Naali. Her attention however was drawn by the gaping portal before her. Its face glistened like a pristine sheet of water and sparkling arcane runes danced across its mouth. In its depths Nei saw a swirl of dark shadow. She approached slowly, reaching out her hand, drawn to its energy. The shadow became larger and denser as she got closer. She stopped mere inches from the surface, admiring its beauty. The shadow moved closer from the depths of the portal, growing larger and larger with each passing breath. Unknowingly Nei’s right hand drew closer to the water.
“Stop! You fool!” Clambering down the chains, Seryssa the elven priestess yelled frantically at Nei. “You cannot touch the abyss, the Devourer’s Maw, it is forbidden and certain death.” Behind her the elderly sahuagin priest looked forebodingly at the portal, but his attention was quickly drawn to the others. Her trance now broken, Nei shook her head and rushed to Naali’s side.
“Get up… Naali, get up!” she cried.
“Drudge… Elrick… are the others safe?” Naali winced in pain. Wiping the blood out of her eyes, she looked over the chamber. Elynasi was beginning to stir.
“Your friend is dead,” stated Seryssa standing over Elrick’s body. The others moved to his side. Elrick lay prone, his brilliant orange robes stained dark red with his own blood. His boyish face looked serene, but lifeless. Naali dropped to her knees and began chanting in a low, pain-stricken moan. Drudge hobbled over, knelt beside the young mage and drew his eyelids down.
“May you rest in peace with the spirits arcane-bender. You were brash and brave, and you will be missed, Elrick the Orange.” The others stood around Drudge and Naali, bowing their heads in honor of their fallen companion.
“Did you say Elrick?” Their heads snapped back towards the altar. From behind a stone pillar stepped the tiefling woman in violet robes. “You mean he is not… Rashimir the Orange?” Her eyebrows furrowed as her head cocked to the side. Before anyone could respond Drudge loosed an arrow, but it flew harmlessly through a clould of black smoke where the tiefling had stood a moment before. Nei tugged on Naali’s war skirt.
“Um, one question.” Naali turned to Nei, tears streaming down her face. “Who is Rashimir the Orange again?”
|Elrick’s Journal||Fane’s Journal||Naali’s Journal||Duragilis’ Journal||Elynasi’s Journal||Nei’s Journal|