ADVENTURE 27: Fishy Business

ADVENTURE 27: Fishy Business: As the session began, characters were recovering from their battle with Banth. They bought and sold some items, then rested a bit. When they were ready, Jestyn teleported the party. In a flash of mystical energy they entered level five again, and after looking around they decided to investigate the nearby pit trap in the lab entrance. It appeared to lead down, so reported Jerrys falcon, down into a room containing two bubbling vats of fiery liquid, some pillars and a portcullis. They decided not to slide down the shaft, and instead investigated previous buzzing sound they had heard in the corridor leading up to Banths lab.
Here they found a secret door. Beyond it was a huge room with a seemingly bottomless pit in the center. Circumventing this, they easily spotted a false wall on the other side, which lead into what appeared to be a complex bee-hive, inhabited by gigantic honeybees, who didnt seem hostile to the party. Spending several minutes, they took several vials of the delicious honey, and still the bees didnt respond angrily. Despite Teloks interest in slaying the bees, the rest of the party decided against it, and so they explored on. In the western halls of level five they found a room that was filled with empty stone coffins, but little else. A door led south, and another door west. The western room was covered in strange depictions of monstrous faces, but was otherwise empty. A door here led south, into a room filled with more coffinsthese ones far from empty! A dozen undead things shambled forth and attacked, their leader a muscular being dressed in full plate. These foes were easy kills, though their leader drained Jerry of much of his life-force before being taken down. Their treasures included some silver and a valuable crown (which was later given by Jestyn to Anna-Marie).
Feeling an odd presence of evil and dread in the seemingly empty central room, the PCs decided to search it. It took about a half hour, but their henchman Jeb managed to find a tiny keyhole in the south-east wall. Although he broke many picks trying to open it, eventually he was also able to pick it. As the characters got ready to go inside, the other door opened and a patrol of Orcus worshippers stepped forward. The heroes decided to deal with these villains peacefully. Three of them were persuaded by Jestyn to go off and dig on level three. The fourth, a young female cleric, resisted this charm, and had to be subdued in other ways. Then Jerry put a Mark Of Justice on her, painting a symbol onto her skin that would cause her to do two good deeds for every evil deed she committed. Then they took her off to an empty room and tried convincing her to come with them to Nenkal, where she would be given to the church to reform. The cleric would not agree, and fanatically praised Orcus while she threatened the heroes with doom. She tried attacking, but the mace was knocked from her hands. She tried casting spells but they were countered. She even tried rushing at the characters, but they would not kill her. Finally, she gave up, and they teleported her back to Nenkal. Here they dragged her, kicking and screaming, into the temple of Muir and Thyr, giving her over to the care of Sartorious. From the captured priestess they learned that a stairway to the south on level five contained the entrance to a great maze area, and beyond that were The Gates of Hell. (a rather strange location, considering that the chaotic-evil priesthood of Orcus would normally want nothing to do with the lawful-evil bastion that was hell.) Leaving the insane cleric in the temple, the PCs then teleported back to the dungeon. Beyond the super-secret door, Jerry could feel a great and powerful evil, evil so great that tears fell from his eyes. The priestess had told them that beyond was The Chapel of Orcus, the last of the three temples. They knew that they had not the power to conquer this place yet, and so they closed the secret door and went into the entrance that the evil clerics had come through. Through here the passage sloped downward, eventually leading to the room at the bottom of Banths pit-trap. First exploring a side-room, the characters found a few empty chambers and a room where Jeb was attacked by a patch of green slime on the ceiling. Here they discovered a stone statue of a horse under a pile of rubble. Back in the room with the portcullis, Verrof immediately noticed that soot was covering some of the pillars in the center of the room. Scraping it off, he found a fine vein of what appeared to be a special variety of living rock, the same oddly pulsating substance the tomb of abysthor had been made of. Turning the bottom half of the pillar to mud, the PCs then took the slab of metallic stone and using one of Jebs pulleys, they tossed it into their portable hole. Next they tried lifting the portcullis. Jerry and Verrof tried together, but it was mostly Jerry who lifted the immense weight of it with his own two limbs. Beyond, a staircase led down to a sixth level.
Here the walls were rocky and unworked; though an eerie purple light covered everything. The passage split both north and south, both ends going towards archways. They chose the north side, entering a complex and frustrating maze with teleport traps and a mustard ooze that attacked them. Eventually they were relieved to exit the maze, going into a large cavern that was covered with a mound of collapsed boulders. Here the party killed some dire rats, then managed to climb over the rubble to the other side. Here, they could go three ways: two appeared to lead into mazes, and so they chose the third. This one led south and east, into another large cave split by a cliff. A branch passage before the cliff-cave led south, blocked by a small chasm, which the party crossed with a rope. This cavern twisted to the south, before coming to a branch. One end led to a chamber containing only a pool of clear water. Under the water, a passage of some kind was visible, though the characters decided not to take it yet. Instead they took the other way, which brought them to a huge stone bridge that spanned an underground river. Forty feet below was a forest of mushrooms, growing on the banks of this unlit river. The ranger climbed down the cliff and discovered, among other finds: the mushroom of youth! Now, they could return to the hermit, and they did just that, teleporting out as quickly as possible.
As the wizened hermit ate from the magical mushroom, his features changed and he appeared to become a very young elf indeed, the many years of his madness falling away like leaves in autumn. His senility too was gone with his age, and he spoke to the characters, identifying himself as the bard Alvarez, a longtime friend of Gerald Navarre, the fallen Justicar. He gave Jerry a magical key, shaped like the seven-pointed star, which would give them access to a temple in the southern hills.
They were able to find these hills going on the knowledge of the native Verrof. Here, fields of grass blew in the cold winds of fall, and all around were faceless metal statues, dozens and dozens of them. Each statue pointed to another, and the final statue pointed down, to a metal plate that had been uncovered, the grass around it dug up (by Sithdars party). Here, Jerrys key opened up a staircase that went straight down. Inside was a domed chamber, filled with a bright light and looking to have been a very holy place indeed. In the center was an anvil-shaped altar of silver. All around the sides of the room, a story was written in stone, the journal of Gerald Navarre himself. First it spoke of his rise of paladinhood, then his infatuation with a mistress, the Lady Deserach. He spoke of his great holy sword, a powerful relic capable of smiting the greatest of evils, a sword of white steel that could be further enhanced when a special gem called Muirs Tear was put into its blade. The journal talked about the invading cult of Orcus, who had arrived at the isles from a city on the mainland called Tsar, a cult that had invaded secretly, at first sequestered in the seemingly innocent homes of immigrants, though it gradually expanded until it covered nearly the whole chain of islands. Navarre grew frustrated at his vain efforts to stop the cult. There was nobody to fight, no great evil to conquer, and thus he began his path to madness. He deserted his wife for his new mistress, falling further into corruption, eventually losing faith in his goddess and bowing down to Orcus himself, who promised salvation in eternal life. Joining his lady, who had now become an undead being, Navarre shattered his holy sword, murdered his family and gave the sacred blades gem to Deserach herself. He then went to join her in eternal life, traveling down to a secret tomb of some kind. Here he inscribed the location of this tomb: first one had to find a room of towering stones on a level equal to the seventh, southward through a maze, down some stairs one would soon arrive at a vast cavern. From here one had to go forward until one reached a flowing river with a natural column on the opposite side. Under the water the tomb could be found, in a hidden cave going into the column itself. There Navarre said he would rest with his mistress, joining her when all othersgods and menhad abandoned him. Jerry said a prayer for the fallen paladin, then suddenly heard a click behind him, coming from the altar. A small panel had opened. Inside was another seven-pointed key, identical to the other one. From everything Sithdar had told them, this key likely opened a passage in Navarres old mansion, where a servant had hid a piece of his shattered sword. After they spent the night here, they PCs set out the next day to find the remaining shards of the blade.
The mansion was the first place they searched. Behind the immense grand staircase they discovered a hidden panel that fit their new key. This led down to the basement, where a huge room was, a door on the opposite end. However, a great and bottomless pit blocked their way here. There was no illusion involved, and so the characters had to Air Walk across it. Through the doorway they found a hall of many pillars. Blocking their path was a silver-skinned being: its body a snakes, its face a womans. It spoke to all of the characters, eventually deciding that everyone except Jeb and Telok were suited to go on. Beyond this snake-woman was a pedestal, and upon it was the hilt of the Gods Vengeance, its hand-guard shaped like a hand, though now blackened with age and corruption. Speaking with the snake-woman again, the characters learned that certain portraits found in the mansion would reveal the location of the other blade pieces. (Though the portraits had seemingly been destroyed long ago when PC Ashrem was eaten by a purple worm, they were magical and had reappeared.) In the old study they found such paintings: depicting Port Grinetos, this mansion, three rocks in the ocean, and finally an island with smoke coming from it. Some of the characters recognized the ocean rocks as being near the town of Illiak Beach, where the people were supposedly very fish-like.
They arrived at Illiak Beach, a decaying old fishing town filled with crumbling, moss-covered buildings and dominated by an oppressive smell of rotting fish. Here the citizens were mostly repulsive folk: dressed in concealing robes, their eyes were large and unblinking, their skin was oddly colored and some of them sported visible gills or vestigial fins. An old fish-man who they spoke with said that they might indeed possess a piece of a sword like they wanted. He said, however, that it was not at the three rocks in the sea, but had been taken to their town, now lying in a shop. However, only a member of the town could shop here, and so the characters had to talk with the town leader. They did so, meeting him in an ancient temple, which containing a pool of slimy green water where this leader lived. Looking like some great gilled fish, he was huge, green and very inhuman, a monstrous being dwelling in his slimy pool. He spoke, saying that the only way the heroes would ever get at their sword fragment was to join the fish-mans family. To do this, one of them had to marry his daughter. Most of the PCs were repulsed by such an idea. Verrof, however, decided to consider it. He asked to see this daughter, and went into a back chamber to meet with her. In a luxurious room he met a girl named Madeline, a beautiful young woman who was currently sitting in bed, her bottom half covered by a blanket, but her top half looking attractive and exotic, her skin a lovely olive tone and her eyes a deep green. She was excited to see Verrof: such a handsome and strong looking man, (sure, he looked like a walking rock, but considering the company she usually kept) He was instantly taken with her as well, so decided to take the offer of marriage.
The wedding soon came, a cloaked and chanting procession leading Verrof and Madeline through the streets of town. They descended down to an underground grotto, the opposite end of it leading to a great underground portion of the ocean. Here the procession stopped, as the couple stood side by side. Priests chanted, invoking many strange and mysterious gods. A gigantic octopus, larger than fifty men, arose from the sea, its tentacles flailing, its enormous circular maw issuing forth a great bellow, perhaps a blessing for the young couple. A fishlike priest spoke the words of the marriage ceremony, and soon the two were married. Afterwards, Verrof had his wedding night. He discovered that her lower body was indeed covered in fishy scales, and small fins covered her legs. Yet this did not bother Verrof. He was a freak himself, and Madelines slight deformity did not phase him. The two consummated their marriage, and the next morning the ranger seemed very happy. They easily purchased part of the holy swords blade at a local shop. Now they had only one more piece to get, aside from the legendary gem. That piece was on some swampy island nearby, which one they did not know.
The characters teleported back to Nenkal. While Verrof showed his new wife around town, Jestyn met with Anna Marie and Jerry went to the Temple of All Gods to speak with Karsyla, whom he fancied. He talked with her, getting her to have a small picnic with him (Telok magically provided the food). They spoke, talking of Verrofs wedding and deciding to make it official with a ceremony at the temple. Later, as Jerry was about to confess his fondness for the beautiful priestess, Karsyla said that she already knew, and that she somewhat liked him as well. She told him to speak with her later, after Verrofs ceremony was done. Thus ended the adventure.

DM’S COMMENTS: We got a lot done this time, unlike last adventure. I’m sure you’ll all love hearing about Verrof and the fish-girl, as well as the other things. It was a fun session, feauturing dungeon exporation, mazes, a good deal of back-story, and a bit of romance for every character except Telok (who wasn’t present except at the start).

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