Our Heroes receive a Pearl of Recall from Silara. It is an alchemecal item that is keyed back to the Ironclad in case the Kreana are about to overrun the area. The group heads into the Kelp Forest.
The group notices Kreana right away, but not so thick that they cannot avoid them. The group cautiously advances, hiding away where they can. Ahmed notices up ahead there is a clearing and it looks like a mermaid is tending a garden there. But he failed to notice the giant crab lurking in the overgrowth (Raise on a Notice, Crit/Fail on a Stealth). Keenly shot arrows and Quills of Qedeshet save both Ahmed and Menivis from being slain by the large creature.
The group approaches the mermaid. Her name is Voline and she invites them into her hidden home. She is quite surprised to see Surfacers. They explain why they are here. She has noticed that the Kreana are swarming the area and is concerned that she may not be able to stay hidden much longer. There is ruining glade nearby (an old settlement) that is particularly thick with them. The Kreana have rebuilt (crudely) an old temple and dedicated it to Cacharus. She advises the group to stay away – they will not be able to get there without being noticed.
The group debates and she offers to do an Augury, as she has a bit of the Sight (note she is from the northern realms and is keen on following the Norns). She does say one option that might work is to risk the Lair of the Morkoth. She warns the creature is most dangerous to those of a weak mind and few have ever escaped its clutches. She knows that there is both opening to it’s labyrinthine lair nearby and at the Kreana site. She also does an Augury for each willing PC. She loses bits of coral, sand, and shells. They suspend in the water and start to glow, revealing:
- Ahmed – "Carcharus has marked you” (lose a point of Toughness for the rest of the adventure)
- Menivis – “You will be held back by the will of Cacharus” – Major Hindrance, picked Luck
- Araceli – “The Gods will push yourself beyond your current capabilities” – Edge – Picked Acrobat
- Salim – "You will find your way harder” (drop one die from highest skill)
- Tabari – ““Your gods protects you” – one better Wild Die
After leading the group to the entrance, the group hesitates. Menivis, however, is drawn to enter, thinking is back in the desert exploring. Araceli holds him bad until he comes to his senses. They enter the maze.
The twisting caverns are confusing. After a number of turns, then encounter Ghuls of various aquatic races. The fight is quick but painful, with Salim getting them out of pinch. However, they are no closer to their goal. They then come an area where there are previous victims of the Ghuls. They find a few items to help them along their way, including a True Relic (a Sword, claimed by Menivis)! They continue through an area with many skeletal shark jaws. They carefully navigate it, although Salim would have been badly wounded if not for his protective magic as one jaw clamped down hard on his leg. They then battle the water itself! Madding! It was a water jinn, which was nearly invisible in water. Salim was badly hurt. The group also found another cache of items from prior victims, with Tabari getting a Ring bound with a Fire Jinn that absorbs fire.
All this time, and they were really working their way to the central lair of the Morkoth. Entering in, they found a number of Kreana there that attacked. For a moment it looked really dire as most of the group fell under the hypnothic sway of the Morkoth. But the group regained their senses and slew the Kreana as Morkoth descended from the darken ceiling to feed on what it though was controlled prey. It did put Ahmed back under its control, but Tabari and Areceli finally killed it with arrows and quills (nasty rolls by Areceli).
As their minds cleared, they found a few alchemecal items and Areceli found a bow that is bound with a Jinn. The bow is vampiric in some way – if activated, inflicted wounds on a target will heal her. But if that Jinn ever gets out….
The group heals up as best they can and finds their way to the Kreana site. Overlooking the area, they notice a group of prisoners being led to the Temple. One of them is Voline…
Of Evil in the Deep
From Ahmed’s Point of View
Venturing forth from the iron clad fortress, Ahmed felt good to be moving, to be facing danger for a greater cause. Sure, the King’s people were hiding within the hulk of the iron clad ship, but they’d claimed it would cause problems for the King if it were known that they ventured into the Kelp Forest. At least they had The Five to lean on.
Araceli had often described the forests of her youth. Ahmed had never seen a proper forest but the grand masses of kelp and other plants seemed pretty close. Araceli dismissed the comparison when he asked her opinion so he was left to wonder if he’d ever see a proper “Forest”.
He was pondering such life goals when he noticed movement through the murky water ahead. It looked like a mermaid tending a sort of garden in a glade up ahead. Ahmed pushed through some thick kelp to get a better look and was about to call to his comrades when he felt the crushing grip of a giant claw around his waist. The air from his lungs burst out into the water into a confusing cloud and for a moment he thought he was back in the dream of drowning. Then the claw began to thrash him about painfully. The arrow that struck his arm was insult to injury and he began a string of curses that would have shamed his mother.
Through the thrashing and bubbles being emitted by the giant crab who had grabbed him, Ahmed saw Menevis bravely step in to attack but get snatched by the other claw. Arrows slices through the waters with much improved accuracy, knifing deep into the creature’s soft flesh and avoiding its thick shell. Within mere moments, the crab’s claws loosened in death, releasing Ahmed and Menevis.
Ahmed engulfed Araceli in a bear hug of gratitude before pointing to the arrow in his arm. “I believe this is yours?”
Further on, they caught the attention of the mermaid gardening. She was not from the city but from northern waters and preferring to keep to herself. She invited the Five into her home and gave them refreshments. Surviving the growing number of shark people was difficult though she was a natural seer and could avoid dangerous futures. She explained that the shark people had built a temple not far from the edge of the kelp forest and they were truly massing. A look into the future determined that any obvious approach would get the Five summarily eaten.
“But there is a way…” she said in a whisper. “It is frought with terrors and dangers, no way a sure path, but if you are determined to discover the true nature of the temple, caves through the lair of the Morkoth it is your only hope…”
Getting the caves was easy with the mermaid’s guidance, but even standing outside the entrance, the disturbing… emotions of the place were clear. Ahmed had to calm himself, not wanting to show fear to his friends. They had been warned that the Morkoth would seduce them with dreams and it was hard to cut through a dream with your scimitar.
The seer had also performed auguries on them which also worried Ahmed. Apparently he’d been “marked” by Cacharis and he certainly did not feel up to his best. Most of the others also received dour warnings from the gods though Araceli and Tabari received boons. Obviously he’d been mistaken to allow the old gods to look upon him, a misstep on his path of the Devoted.
They headed into the caves, the murk barely pushed back by a magical glow from Salim. All sorts of deformed creatures lurked in fissures and outcroppings of coral. There were few areas with a ‘floor’ so they spent most of their way swimming. He’d been building up some strength over their time underwater but it was still awkward with all their gear.
Their first true challenge was a pack of ghouls, the dead animated by some fell force and ravenous to consume humans. They swarmed Ahmed and the others, biting and clawing at them. Their touch was numbing and Ahmed lost grip on his swords at one point though he was able to regain them. Just as Araceli had saved the day with the giant crab, it was Salim’s sand magic which turned the tide. Cutting blasts of sand drawn from the cave floor sliced into the ghouls until the pack fled to find easier prey. All but Salim had been bloodied by this point.
Further on, deeper in the caves, they came across the sickening remains of a ghoul attack. Some mermen had ventured into the caves and been mostly eaten. Luckily their gear had been of no interest to the ghouls. Moving quickly the Five were able to find several potions in carved coral containers. Taking this bounty forward, the group began to lose track of the number of chambers they’d swam through though they seemed to be able to stick to the guidance the seer had given to reach the exit by the temple. A chamber filled with the white jawbones of giant sharks was nerve-wracking to swim through. One fell shut, almost catching Salim.
Deeper in the caves, the light of the glow stick seemed to penetrate the gloom less and less so the Five found themselves moving in a closer pack, edging away from the darkness. Even this order was thrown to chaos as Salim was attacked from an unseen force, causing the light to spin in the water and throw strange shadows. What was attacking him appeared to be the water itself! Was there no end to the horrors of these caves?!?
Menevis found good footing and smashed through the hostile force with his shield again and again until it was clear that the foe was a water jinn and it too found us too troublesome. We gathered ourselves and pressed forward, shaken but resolute.
The dreams came even to Ahmed, dreams of his happiest times. For Ahmed the dream was for Azmara. He’d known her forever, as children and then as members of the tribe. They had always been friends or at least friendly. Then came the night Ahmed was to dance the dervish for the first time. He chose to dance it for her. The dance had not been perfect for the spins of the dervish are tricky even for masters, but it had been perfect enough. That night they broke several laws of the tribe when they…
Fighting sharkmen and an undersea monster was quite a shock when he finally broke himself from the beautiful reverie. With magic, swords, and arrows, they slew the foul creature at the heart of the evil though Araceli was grievously wounded. The power of the merfolk potions brought her back from the brink of death. With some still wounded, it was agreed to forge onward.
The sight was breaktaking when they emeged from the cave opening. They peered over a broad valley full of clumps of giant kelp and one crudely constructed temple. The shark people were everywhere. Some had formed a procession to the temple with several non-shark sea beings in chains. Ahmed’s heart sank when he saw the mermaid seer among the number.
“We can’t go back now. They’ll know what we’ve found after we’ve stopped this heinous worship.”