The water rushing out of the inlet at an amazing rate left the bed of the inlet exposed, with all sorts of surprised sea creatures left flopping around or slinking back into the still-deep rock pools and channels that were left behind. The anti-deluge also meant the steep sides of the inlet were now forming a gorge. While Percy and Orny recovered from having their optic nerves overloaded by the massive lightning strike, the others took stock of their situation and the exposed inlet’s contents.
Oh, how embarrassing.
Well, for a start, there was a wreck. A badly decayed wreck slap bang in the middle of the inlet, encrusted in barnacles and slime. Its mast must have been above the waves at one point, because it was barnacle free, but it had since snapped and sunk beneath the water, resting now on spit of slippery rock right in front of the second interesting feature: a pair of large stone doors. The stone doors were hung with black and green seaweed, but were evidently carved on the outer side and they could see that the doors were open, not all the way, but enough of the way to reveal a dark space beyond.
The third feature of interest – I haven’t quite worked out how they saw that yet – was a bell cave, although not a proper one, really. The cliff to the north had an overhang and I guess they saw debris or something that let them know that there was an opening in the underside of the overhang… yeah, that’s the ticket. Nobody and Uun volunteered to go check it out and climbing up the cliff side they entered a cramped little cave that was – now that I think about it – necessarily above the water line, but only accessible from below it. Anyway, the cave was empty of inhabitants, but they reckoned that it must belong to the thing they fought off near the standing stones. Tucked into a ledge was a largish collection of driftwood, dried palm fronds, hair and bones, held together by dried dung.
Efficient Quiver really makes any bow into a Lawgiver, without the Chekov’s Anti-Gun-Theft feature.
Even from an initial scan of the nest they could see shiny stuff embedded in the turd-wattle and daub construction. Their first inclination was to drag the thing out of the cave and drop it to the rocks below, so that the coins could scatter out like Mario’d just headbutted a box. But the idea of this precious stuff scattering didn’t appeal, so they wrapped the whole thing in sailcloth, then dumped it out of the cave. So the dung cement cracked and the shinys therein were revealed. They tied a rope to it and then hauled it up onto the outcropping for everyone to look at. The +1 Buckler had +1 Buckler written all over it, but also in the pile was a Javelin of Lightning, an Efficient Quiver, a decent composite longbow, another sextant and a mithril hook. The efficient quiver had an Aberration Slaying Arrow, some +1 Arrows, some cold iron arrows, some regular arrows, some regular javelins and 2 magical arrows that could not be identified. The loot was gleefully divided up, but the mass of coins had yet to be picked from the crumbling dung. Victor and Sasha were left in charge of making sure that the pile didn’t go anywhere and we can really only imagine the conversation that the patronising Paladin and bubbly psychopath had with each other.
It’s nice to think of Zeus this way, flinging lightning bolts around. Anything to keep our minds off how many times he turned into a creature and roofied some greek chick then got her pregnant.
Rope (for the poor climbers) was tied off around the still-static-y standing stones and a second safety rope (for Orny) was attached to another stone, just in case of emergencies. The party lowered themselves down one by one, leaving Victor, Sasha and the new leopard addition to the team… Thrivent? Activia? Truvia? Something like that. Sasha is going to start having her Dimorphodon play with the leopard, who she’ll almost certainly train to respond the ‘Spotty Meowington’ to compete with… Trivet? Trivia? Whatever. May the most bloody-minded Ranger win!
Uun and Nobody made their way along the slippery rock surface to the closest point to the wrecked ship and then jumped across the channel. Uun decided to forgo climbing the mast and leapt straight for the broken planking of the lower deck. He didn’t quite make it, although he managed to keep himself out of the drink and slowly pulled himself up. Meanwhile Nobody tried to skip up the broken mast but slipped and only managed to catch himself with his hook/buckler. The hook stuck firm in the slimy wood and he swung his legs up, trying but failing to clamber the rest of the way over the railings. It wasn’t going great for Floki either. He had decided to swim over, swimming being a thing he is pretty good at as a former Blodvin Marine. You know who is better at swimming than ex-marines? Blue sharks. And one – in the spirit of J.M.Barrie – that had tried to eat him before. It launched itself from the surprising depths of the channel, already furious at being stranded in it when the water receded and tore a chunk out of the Ulfen. Floki made a lunge for the lower decking that Uun had dragged himself up and was pulled up by Uun. Orny, on point with the Shark repellent-strategy cast Slumber Hex on the dumb maneater and it cruised around in its little channel, leaving them alone.
Aww,I googled sleeping shark and found this… I do not believe I would sleep well in this…
It was a good thing that the hex lasts for a while because there then followed a shit-show of people falling in the water. Orny slipped and fell as he tried to jump, Nobody finally fell off the mast, Percy fell off the mast too. Splash, crunch, splash. Only Uun and Floki had solid footing and even then it was pretty slippery. They were prevented from just falling further into the ship by a surviving bulkhead into which was set a swollen but still functional door. They opened it and found a long hold that ended in a matching bulkhead/door combo and was illuminated by sunlight streaming through a deck grate set in the main deck above them. They advanced on the room, but stopped when they heard a piping three note whistle, which they were somewhat surprised to recognise as a bosun’s whistle. The far door opened up abruptly and a tiny, watery-green humanoid marched out officiously bellowing at the top of his tiny lungs “Stand to men and give me a report on this damnably low tide!” Despite having weapons drawn and prepared to fight, they humoured the little guy as he blustered his way around the deck, asking for damage reports, praising prompt answers and musing over what to do next.
Nobody, frustrated at being unable to climb onto the ship, began hacking at the soggy hull with his axe, which caused “Captain” Ekubus to believe that they were being boarded, so he and his two sailors, Uun and Floki rushed to the main deck. There Uun informed Ekubus that the man hacking at the hull was actually one of theirs and the little captain started crying “Man Overboard!” and instructing those below to be dragged onto the ship. Ekubus was evidently Captain of this vessel which he deemed seaworthy by virtue of it having been covered by the sea for a few years. He was distressed by the disappearance of the sea, for the second inconvenient time in a week. The first, had taken him by surprise and lasted for 6 hours before the water came back in. During that time, his ‘crew’ informed him that a strange looking creature (“of a scaly disposition”) had climbed down from the overlook and made its way into the big scary doors. When Uun informed him that they intended to go in there, Ekubus declared that sending a landing party was an excellent idea, one that Uun assured him had been his all along. Cpt. Ekubus proudly predicted great things in Uun’s future as a sailor. Ekubus took a particular shine to Percy and while they chatted, Orny and Nobody went off to see the rest of the ship. Below decks they entered the ruined Captain’s cabin from which Ekubus had emerged. Of note was a hatch that led down to a level below the water level. Opening it they found just dark water, but Orny’s Detect Magic revealed a roughly-oval shaped magic aura. Orny couldn’t see in the dark water and Nobody could see, but couldn’t detect magic auras. Orny decided to go below, slipping into the water and treading water badly while he tried to get his bearings. Sometime shortly before he was about to get his bearings, however, something pierced him; agonizing poison coursing through his veins that he was able to shake off as he retreated back to the relative safety of the middle deck. Nobody went in next to try his luck and took a pebble onto which Light had been cast. This illuminated the clutter of ruined cargo at the bottom of the hold as well as a large undulating Urchin that shot a bunch of quills off at Nobody. He was hit once and managed to avoid the worst of the poison, but the second quill was too much to fight off, the poison took hold and wracked the tiefling with painful burning sensations. Nobody grabbed the only object that could have fit the oval criteria of the magical aura, a coil of rope, which later Orny identified as a Rope of Climbing, which is pretty rad.
So, funny story about how Urchins lay eggs…
Saying their farewells to Captain Ekubus who sent them on their away mission to the temple, they slipped down the slippery mast and off to the great stone doors set into the cliff to the south.
Slipping between the dripping layers of seaweed, they saw a long steep stair leading up into the cliff. The carved walls made them uneasy, but nothing seemed recognisable until they reached the top of the stairs. There, as the path opened out into darkness, Orny cast Dancing Lights and revealed a tall room (nobody but Nobody could see the ceiling) that was evidently An Important Room. More to the point, the lights provided Orny an amazing revelation – that they stood in a room of Azlanti construction. The first human civilization which existed many thousands of years before the next human civilization – Azlant persists only in what little time and catastrophe were unable to destroy; constructions of immense scale and magical energy, magical items that to this day have no equal and rare lore that sheds insight into the very workings of the universe and beyond. In the short span of Azlant’s existence magic, art and science flourished, peaking in ways that have yet to be equalled. Yet everything that is known about Azlant suggests that their empire lay in what is now the Arcadian ocean. Ruins are found further north, but to find an Azlanti ruin so far south, so close to Sargava is unheard of… Orny was suddenly aware of how much money/prestige this find was worth: a lot.
…and simply put, that is how I became Dean of Antiquities…
Academic understanding of the world aside, they looked into this tall room which flared to either side as it receded further into the rock and saw… pretty hideous gross things. Grotesque carvings and design abounds, with four small alcoves beneath fanged skull carvings – two left, two right. Pillars soared into the darkness with some supporting some kind of walkway from left to right, 40′ above. Dead ahead, a bronze door that glittered strangely and the same types of doors were seen at either ends of the inaccessible walkway. They barely had time to register these features – and I’m pretty certain Orny didn’t have time to share with them the historical/financial repercussions of the temple’s discovery – when several javelins appeared from the darkness and landed in Uun and Floki. Uun advanced as quickly as he could, getting under the walkway and out of danger, which Floki slipped into the shadows and attempted to hide. Only when Orny moved his Dancing Lights spell to higher altitude were the skeletal figures on the walkway evident; skeletal figures with snake-like tails and inhuman skulls launched more javelins, their empty eye sockets somehow emitting a lambent green light. Orny caught one of the javelins and having already been pierced by the spines of the urchin, fell unconscious and backwards down the stairs, but only a little because that javelin works like a parking clamp.
“Ssstick around, Orny.” No, wait, I mean “Get the Point, Orny?” Aww, dammit that wass better, can we have a do-over guyss?
Percy and Nobody took the fight to the skeletal snake me, with Percy’s Spiritual Weapon bouncing of the skeletons sometimes and making telling blows others. Nobody shot at the attackers, ducking under the walkway for safety, then Floki drew his bow and added his missile support. Uun was endeavouring to get up the walkway, but fell. Probably just as well, because with their javelins gone, the snakeletons jumped off the walkway to engage with those below. The fall was too much for one of them, who burst apart as it hit the floor. Nobody ended another with a short range shot and Uun tore one apart with his creepily clawlike hands. The remaining undead tore into Floki with his own claws, but Floki riposted with his axe and then smashed the thing to pieces with his shield.
Shield bash is just fucking great.
Orny was attended to as his comrades rushed over to him. But those that stayed in place in the middle of the room could see that the strange glittering on the bronze doors was caused by rivulets of blood running freely across the metal. And all heard – or rather felt – a woman’s voice, softly accented with Varisian declare: “You should not have come.”