AiS #015: Confusion & Terror

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With the seaweed monster slain, the party searched through its slimy, noisome lair. The party found little but driftwood and a torn sail until Jeremiah stumbled upon a small locked coffer. It had resisted the sea’s onslaught well and thwarted the skilled thief’s attempts to open it. Eventually, the party gave up and simply smashed it open to get at the coins—silver and gold—within.

After a brief chat with Luestiss, the heroes crossed the subterranean stream and explored the ledge dominated by the crumbled tower. Johann found some strange marks around the ruin’s arrow slits which Toliyrath identified as the leavings of some kind for magic ward. Meanwhile, Thangrimm, Jeremiah and Orm explored the small chamber to the south. Here the floor was slimy and slippery, but a crumbled wall across the cave mouth had kept the seaweed at bay. Within the chamber, the heroes discovered many pairs of smooth-bored holes set around the walls at about a man’s waist height. Thagrimm wondered if the holes had once been used—along with chains or ropes—to restrain prisoners, but could find no conclusive proof of this suspicions.

In any event, the cave held little of actual value and so the party congregated around the ruined tower and searched the area thoroughly. Jeremiah’s keen eyes spotted a faint crack in the cave’s western wall. It seemed a hidden door pierced the wall. Shortly thereafter, the secret to opening the door was discerned and Orm—bravely volunteered by his companions—opened the portal. As he did so, a wave of terror swept over the brave hero and he began to scream shrilly as he fled in terror from the door. Acting swiftly, the rest of the party moved to restrain the brawny warrior. Such was his strength, and the desperation of his terror, however, he managed to shrug off the first attempts at restraint. Orithur jumped Orm from behind but couldn’t bring his friend down. Only when Johann tied up Orm with a stout rope after Orithur’s wolf companion tripped warrior on the slippery floor did the party manage to subdue him. Shortly thereafter, the feelings of terror left Orm and he resumed his position in the party’s vanguard.

Meanwhile Thagrimm, Toliyrath and Jeremiah advanced through the now open door to discover a small antechamber. Two doors marked with curiously carved eyes led to the north and south. Intricate carvings of a great curtain of seaweed covered the wall of an alcove in the west wall. A close inspection of the carvings revealed several long carven tentacles hidden among the weeds. This led to some consternation among the party, and some fevered speculation about what may lurk in the harbour.

In short order, however, the party divined the method of opening the doors—placing one’s hand on the graven eye—and they explored the small complex. In one large room, they discovered a gigantic carving of a sunken city of seemingly huge proportions. Worryingly huge fishes and other aquatic beasts were depicted swimming through the city, and Jeremiah’s keen eyes even spotted some tiny figures among the buildings.

In a niche opposite the caving a slender pillar rose from the floor. Atop the pillar stood a bronze idol heavy with verdigris. It was a hateful thing—looking like a squished and elongated hairless head. For now, the party left the idol alone and explored what lay elsewhere. In another room, they discovered a map of sorts showing the nearby coastline Glimmering blue gems were set into the map in roughly the locations of present-day Greystone, Coldwater, Hard Bay and Languard. A fifth gem—larger than the others—was set in Gloamhold’s rough position.

The heroes pondered this for a few minutes and then decided to prise out the gems. Sadly, the gems were set securely in place and the party broke four of the five. Even worse, a fell enchantment seemed to protect the map and Thangrimm and Orithur fell prey to its terrible effects.

Having seemingly explored the complex, the party debated what to do about the hideous bronze idol. Inevitably, they decided to take it, but they were soon to discover it too was protected by fell magics. Returning to the idol room, Orm reached out to take it. As he touched it, the scene changed and the party could see and hear horribly ugly humanoids singing some kind of blasphemous chanting. At he ceremony’s climax a great swirl of sickly green and blue lights burst forth for the idol captivating Orm, Veronwe and Jeremiah. Of those in the room, only Thagrimm managed to resist the horrible enchantment. As the three stood like slack-jawed idiots, Orm felt an alien presence force its way into his mind. It commanded him in a harsh-sounding language he could not speak, but strangely could understand, to kill all the intruders. Somehow, he fought off the urge to surrender to the alien intelligence. By then, the rest of the party had spring into action to drag their friends away from the strange lights and shortly thereafter everyone had regained their faculties.
Given this horrible turn of events, the heroes now decided to leave the idol well alone and retreated from the complex.

Luestiss was waiting for them.

She enticed Jeremiah to rest in her personal “chamber” while the others investigated her home. Quickly—across a sunken pool—they spotted a beautifully carved ship’s figure head shaped like a rearing dragon. The figurehead was beautifully carved and—even more amazingly—seemed to be hewn from a single immense piece of darkwood. Several of the party lusted after the figurehead, as its value was easily 2,000 gp or more. However,Jeremiah—unaware of this development—suddenly rushed from Leuestiss’s chambers clutching a silver diadem she had recently donned to impress the party. The rogue tried to flee with the piece of jewellery, but jumping into the water discovered the sea nymph—shockingly—could swim far more swiftly than he. Begrudgingly, he returned the circlet claiming the entire thing had been a big misunderstanding and that he was only trying to entice her out of the caves to freedom.

Still, several of the party wanted the figurehead and they haggled furiously with Luetiss. Eventually, she agreed to swap the figurehead for three barrels of fine wine and the company of one of the party—but not a dwarf—for a week. The party immediately fell to arguing about who would be forced to spend a week in the company of the beautiful and lonely sea dryad…