Soanso's Serpent's Skull Campaign

Session 8: Souls for Smuggler's Shiv

"corrected spelling" version

Taking a brief moment to recuperate from the battle, the explorers notice the camp is eerily quiet. Fanning out to investigate reveals some clues as to the cannibals’ origins and daily lives. Jask the cleric is sent posthaste to round up the other survivors. A large but ultimately worthless pile of goods found in the lighthouse indicates that this was indeed the last refuge of the Thrune’s Fang crew, and their subsequent offspring. bits of pottery, rotten books, broken furniture, tarnished and battered candelabra, ruined clothing, and the large figurehead carved in the likeness of Asmodeus are all distinctly Chelish in origin and craft. A small hut belonging to the fell witch was explored and several potions and alchemical items found.

Exploring the top of the lighthouse reveals an incomplete light reflector; though the party surmised most of what would be needed to fix it could be scavenged. Arendel uncovered a hole at the base of the lighthouse, with wooden stakes fastening ropes of vine, hemp, and other fibrous materials coiled neatly beside. The remaining survivors arrived shortly after dusk, taking up defensive positions and exploring the ruined lighthouse themselves.

The morning brought the intrigue of the shaft, which the group quickly descended. The entrance opened to the cave’s bone-littered floor. Following the winding cave tunnel brings the party to a large cavern with an uneven ceiling, and six pod-like alcoves in the northwestern wall. They are set upon by foul undead, a rare but hazardous pair of festrogs, known to be covered with foul pustules that burst upon bladed sword or sharpened claw. These feral, humanoid near-ghouls are brought down. The alcoves are explored, but only moldering mats of straw and sailcloth are found, and a bowl of brackish water at each pod.

The explorers head through the passageway south, where they end up in a cistern-like room with a shallow pool of water at the center. Perched on the narrow, winding ledges is a pair of lacedons, who move quickly to engage their newest meal. The ghouls cause little harm, and the group chooses the first of two passages along the eastern ledge.

The short passageway opens into what looks like an ancient, dark temple with a serpentine motif. Wall carvings depict snakes walking upright, snakes coiled around and eating human women and children, and other strange scenes. Large columns support the ceiling, and are also carved in the shapes of coiled serpents. Dominating the southern portion of the temple is an eight-foot high pile of bones, flesh, and partially decayed bodies in the shape of a coiled snake. Two more ghouls emerge from behind the horrific statue, and are dispatched.

Arendel finds a scrap of leather armor. Written in blood he finds what appears to be Captain Kovack’s confession. Claiming he was dominated by the scholar Ieana, who was a ‘serpentine demon in a Varisian’s skin,’ he purposely wrecked the Jenevire, followed her to this island, and was subsequently abandoned here to succumb to ghoul fever and die. He implores anyone finding this to destroy what he has become and also to seek her out at Red Mountain, her seeming destination.

The door in the north wall opens, and a wall of darkness beseeches the group to join it in everlasting life. Not one to immediately rebuff dark offers, KS rushes what he can see that the humans do not; a ghoul with minions. Undead minions. She wears an amulet, and directs her “children” to attack. KS takes the brunt of the first assault, becoming paralyzed by the ghoul’s bite attack. Taraz dispels the magical darkness and Arendel hits her with a scorching ray. Chumba and Max wade into the fracas, while Ace removes KS and summons an octopus to grapple the ghoul. Max is paralyzed by the ghoul’s bite, and Chumba takes several hits before the foul undead family fans out to attack the non-smashy-wielding party members. Max’s paralysis wears off and he able to defeat the ghoul “mother” and Chumba paints the cathedral columns with ghoul parts. Having expended a tremendous amount of resources in the difficult battle, the group heads back to rest, and returns in the morning to continue exploring the foul temple.

Max finds the northern door caked in ash, and several empty vials on the ground. The door is unlocked, and he opens it to reveal a low stone altar, also carved in a serpentine motif. The walls contain more ancient, unsettling carvings depicting more images of the anthropomorphic serpents using pointed stone megaliths to work incredible feats of magic- turning human armies into zombies, calling down flaming lightning bolts from the sky, and parting the waters to dash human ships upon the exposed sea floor.

This last pictogram and Aklo inscription seems to have been recently cleaned and the inscriptions traced with either ink or blood. It reads:

“To Command the Very Tides to Rise Up and Eschew What Lies Below: Empower the Four Sentinel Runes with the Blood of a Thinking Creature Tempered by the Kiss of a Serpent’s Tongue. Anoint the Tide Stone with Waters Brought from the Sea in a Vessel of Purest Metal. Invoke the Lord’s Sacred Name to Wrap His Coils around the Sea Itself that He Might Lay Bare What Lies Below and Cast Down Your Enemies on the Waves above.”

Arendel recognizes the carvings depict Smuggler’s Shiv, and a smaller carving depicting the ceremony described in the writings bears resemblance to Red Mountain.

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