Average Freaks

Session 15

The Temple of the Crushing Wave

Temple of the Crushing Wave

While looking around the lake landing, Orlav recognizes claw marks on the stone quay consistent with a dragon turtle. Shump begins to summon a steed, with Naïru keeping watch, as the rest of the group explores the lake. Orlav and Rowan walk on the water’s surface following the northern wall, while Ka takes the south. Shortly across the water, Ka passes a stumbling stone quay that leads to a dark passageway. She continues on, moving towards a grotto behind a column of rock. Suddenly, from out of the water, a giant octopus tentacle reaches out and grapples her. Ka yells out for help and attempts to break free, but is unsuccessful. The rest of the party runs toward Ka, including Oralv, who hears an oafish voice call out and ask what is going on.

Meanwhile, the giant octopus further constricts around Ka, but moments later she writhes free and dashes away. Naïru is first to arrive and marks the octopus as her quarry, before striking it with her longbow. Rowan also hits the octopus with a mote of fire, just as Shump arrives to the scene. The octopus lunges towards the half-orc and grapples him with his tentacles. Orlav summons flame-like radiance on the octopus, just as Ka turns back around from fleeing to loose the final arrow from her longbow.

The Drowning Chambers

As Orlav cures Ka’s wounds, Naïru sneaks off to check out the dark passageway. She comes to a chamber where a dank, rotten smell pervades the air. The floor is perforated by eight small pools, each about 3 feet wide and filled to the brim with black, stinking water. Several large stones lie on the floor near the pools, each wrapped several times around by lengths of old rope. A symbol is painted on the southern wall—a shape like an X with the bottom limbs linked by a horizontal line.

Investigating to the west, the lake ends at a gravel shore. A natural cavern narrows towards a long gated passageway heading west. Several wooden skiffs are drawn up on the shore, and Ka gets to work sabotaging the boats. Naïru returns and tells the group of the dark chambers, presumed to be where prisoners are drowned. The group goes to investigate, with Naïru leading Shump and Orlav in first. Orlav notices several ghouls hiding in the darkness near the walls, and Shump’s divine senses detect the presence of at least four ghouls.

Several ghouls move out from the walls and towards the group, and one reaches Orlav. However, the ghoul falls over trying to claw at the dragonborn. One of the other ghouls cries out, as eight more surface in the water of the eight pools. Ka shoots an arrow into the ghoul on the ground, as Naïru unleashes a hail of thorns into the room at a cluster of ghouls. Orlav smashes the grounded ghoul with his warhammer, and Shump finishes him off. As the eleven remaining ghouls start to ascend on the party, a bright streak flashes past the group into the middle of the ghouls and then blossoms with a low roar into an explosion of flame. Rowan stands at the back in an archer’s stance with her arms holding an imaginary bow, with her front hand pointing to the center of the destruction.

As Shump searches around, Orlav says a prayer to Istishia for the drowned. As he consecrates the area with his words, one of the pools begins to dimly glow. Peeking in, he sees something shiny at the bottom. Unraveling some rope from one of the rocks, Orlav jumps in and discovers a ring at the bottom of the ten-foot deep pool. Once out of the water, he puts the ring on, but can’t determine its effects, but he’s certain it’s magical.

Paying the Troll Toll

The group decides to investigate towards the northeast end of the lake in the direction of the oafish voice heard earlier. A canal leads north from the eastern side of the lake. As the group walks the surface of the water, they see stairs on each side of the canal climb up to a stone bridge, which spans the canal fifteen feet above the water level. The sides of the bridge are carved in the image of dragons standing guard over treasure hoards. A single torch illuminates the bridge. The group sees a troll standing on the bridge, and the troll sees the group.

The troll calls out, “Hey, why can’t I walk on water?” Shump immediately responds saying “You can! It’s special water, try it.” The troll walks down to the water’s edge, steps out onto the water, and falls in. Swimming to the surface, the aquatic troll yells, “It didn’t work!” Shump says, “Are you wearing socks?” The troll says, “No, I’m barefoot.” Shump says “Well there you go, you have to be wearing socks.” The troll looks even more confused, and asks who the party is.

The party says they’re auditors there to determine if they’ve taken back Rivergard Keep yet. The troll says, “That is more of the humans’ thing, I just work for them. But I don’t think so …” Ka asks if the troll is being given the support and tools he needs to perform his duties. He says “Yeah, I think, there’s not a lot I really need … they feed me, and I’ve got my claws, lefty and lefty.” Orlav tells the troll the boats on the shore of the lake aren’t to code and it is his responsibility to take care of them. The troll reluctantly leaves to inadvertently sabotage the boats further.

The Dragon Turtle

Moving on along the water, the twenty-foot wide canal leads between ancient masonry walls into darkness. The water moves sluggishly, indicating a weak current. Turning around a bend, the group sees another quay up ahead to the left exiting west, as well as where the canal opens up to another cavern in the distance. There, a reflection of blue light shimmers and sparkles off the water. However, the shimmers and reflections begin to move toward the group. The group readies their weapons as the reflections get closer. Just as the reflections reach the quay in front of them, a dragon turtle lifts its head out of the water. It tilts its head as it observes the party standing on the surface of the water.

Orlav commands the group to run. Everyone else turns and flees back around the canal’s bend as Orlav stands his ground. The dragon turtle advances and bites into Orlav, bringing him to the edge of death. Meanwhile, Naïru leads the group back to the dragon bridge. In a split decision, she decides to exit the water using the western quay. At the top of the water’s stairs, she sees two tunnels, one straight ahead and one to her right leading back north. She chooses to take the group north, following a series of bends and turns and passing a few doors along the way. The ranger’s natural sense of direction takes Naïru to the end of a tunnel that leads back to the north end of the canal.

Peaking her head out around the corner, she sees Orlav floating on the water. Seeing the tail end of the dragon turtle to the south round the bend out of sight, she levitates herself to the ceiling and pulls herself towards Orlav to keep from disturbing the water. Rowan moves to the nearest door and begins to search for thoughts of any creatures in the nearest room. She picks up the mind of someone thinking to herself that the weird tank experiments have been going very well. Shump looks out at the canal and decides to risk it for Orlav. He runs out onto the water and lays his hands on the cleric. Shump and Orlav bolt back up the quay with Orlav dragging Naïru by the ankle along be ceiling.

Bugbears, reavers, and weird tanks

Naïru concentrates for a minute on her primeval awareness and determines there are seven humanoids in the nearest room. The group decides to follow the hallways back south towards the lake landing. Rounding a corner, they hear a monstrous voice yell out “pesky air cultists!” from behind an arrow slit. Naïru storms into the room and finds five bugbears ready for combat.

Naïru hits the nearest bugbear with a few swings of her shortsword. Shump slashes at another with his scimitar. Rowan twins to fire bolts at Shump’s target, but both fly wide. Orlav steals Naïru’s kill with sacred flames. Ka runs into the room and misses with an arrow. The four remaining bugbears split the room, two teaming up on Shump, one taking Orlav, and one taking Naïru. All four fail to connect with their morningstars, however one yells out “air cultists!” even louder towards a closed door.

Naïru hits her new bugbear target, and takes an additional jab at Orlav’s. She swings twice more with her dual shortswords but fails to penetrate the bugbear’s hide. Shump sinks two scimitars into his bugbear assailant. Rowan steals Naïru’s kill with a firebolt. Orlav lands a massive blow against his bugbear, then Ka comes in with reszur and steals his kill. The group hears yelling from the other room, as one of the bugbears misses Naïru and the other bugbear lands a morningstar on Ka.

Naïru lands one of three swings with her shortsword against her assailant. Rowan hits the other bugbear with one of her twinned fire bolts. Shump, Ka, and Orlav are unable to hit either of the bugbears. The bugbears can’t get past the party’s defenses either. The nearby door opens, and a woman with a frosty-white orb in place of her right eye stands at the ready with six reavers trailing behind her. A ray of frost shoots out of the woman’s missing eye but Orlav manages to dodge it. Naïru finishes off one of the bugbears, then marks the one-eyed woman as her quarry. She drops her short swords and pulls her bow, but Naïru’s arrow veers at the last second around the one-eyed woman as though obstructed by an invisible barrier.

Rowan runs to the door and sees what appears to be an arcane workshop. A long wooden table in the middle of the room is littered with pieces of a complicated apparatus involving a large glass tank, copper fittings and piping, and a leather carrying harness, while shelves full of alchemical reagents stand against the wall. The air is quite cold, and a chill mist clings to the floor. Rowan decides to risk it and takes an archers stance, pulls her invisible bowstring, and a bright streak flashes into the middle of the room and then blossoms with a low roar into an explosion of flames. Nearly everyone in the room is hit, and two reavers die. Additionally, the tank on the table explodes as well and splashes ice-cold liquid onto nearby reavers. Orlav evokes sacred flames that engulf the one-eyed woman while quickly conjuring a spiritual warhammer that slams into her. Ka finishes off the last bugbear then manages to hit the one-eyed woman with a dagger.

A wave of thunderous force sweeps out in realiation from the one-eyed woman, but Nairu, Orlav, and Rowan all manage to stand their ground against the shockwave. The four remaining reavers all attempt to hit Nairu with crossbow bolts but miss. Nairu manages to finish off the one-eyed woman with her shortsword, then break up the horde of reavers with concurrent slashes, killing two of the four. Rowan finishes off the third hurling a mote of fire, as Orlav takes down the last with sacred flames and his spiritual warhammer.

The Spy’s Letters

The group takes a moment to get their bearings and search around. The first room was clearly just a guardpost and, judging by the smell, the bugbears’ sleeping quarters. The room to the north, before Rowan destroyed everything with her fireball, was clearly an arcane workshop. The group finds some gold amongst the dead cultists, and Ka cuts out the leader’s frosty glass eye. They also find an iron chest in an adjoining bedchamber to the workshop. The chest contains some coinage as well as several unsigned letters reporting on events in Red Larch, including the arrival of the party and their actions in town within the last couple days. The handwriting is an unusual mix of block letters and script matching the letters found in Jolliver’s desk at Rivergard. The troll arrives and questions the scene, but the group blames shoddy work standards and safety practices. Rowan slaps up a “0 days since last accident” sign.

Rowan determines that items powered by the energy of elemental water were assembled in the workshop. Heading into the last adjoining room, the group finds sealed copper vats standing in two rows in the middle of a large room. The vats are old and completely covered in verdigris, and three vats are cold and clammy to the touch. A few faded murals remain on the wall, showing dwarves working in fields and tending hop vines. Three new, backpack-sized glass tanks with carrying harnesses are stacked neatly at the end of the row of vats. The tanks are ten-gallons of blown glass and sculpted bronze with a backpack-like carrying harness fashioned from tough leather. Rowan believes that the tanks would serve as vessels to contain elemental creatures made of water. Orlav posits that the three vats that are cold to the touch contain such creatures.

Bumping into Air Cultists

The group locks or barricades what doors they can and takes a short rest in the workshop. Nearing the end of an hour, Orlav is startled as the door he’s guarding shifts slightly against its barricade. A moment later, the door shifts again, indicating someone on the other side in the brewery room seems to be testing for entry. The party decides to circle back around from the hallway and surprise whomever from behind. The brewery has two doors, one of which is closed and Orlav and the party get in position behind. Naïru sneaks to the other door and finds it wide open and peaks inside. Crouched by the door, Naïru sees two members of the Feathergale Society.

Naïru walks into the room and loudly says “Hey brothers, what’s up?”
Orlav and Shump stand down outside. Naïru recognizes the two cultists, one is a young initiate the group ate a meal with, the other is one of Fremont Talaudrym’s two killers.
The cultists jump at Naïru’s voice and turn around, and the younger man whispers, “My lady Naivara, what are you doing down here?”
Naïru responds, “I’m curious what you’re doing down here, we’ve been down here for a while.”
The cultist whispers, “We’re on a mission to sneak into the water cult’s facilities and ascertain information on their experiments.”
Naïru asks, “Who sent you on this mission?”
The cultist gestures for her to be quiet as he whispers back “Thurl.”
Naïru still speaking loudly so the party can hear, says “Ahh yes, Thurl and I talked about some possible plans.”
The cutlist again asks, “My lady, what are YOU doing down here?”
Naïru replies, “That’s between Thurl and I.”
Suddenly, the older knight stops the younger cultist, and says “We have to go. I’m sorry my lady, our mission has been compromised.”
Naïru says, “Well, let me warn you, this is a really dangerous area, do you need me to accompany you on the way out?”
“No, it’s probably best if you leave immediately from whichever means you came in…”
Naïru quickly interjects, “Well probably the same way, what way did you enter through?”
The older knight again kicks the younger man before he can answer and says, “There is a secret tunnel we came through, but it’s too dangerous for you to go back that way. We’ll take our leave that way if you want to return the way you came.”
Orlav bursts through the door, and seeing the man who killed Fremont, evokes flame-like radiance at him.
Naïru pushes the younger cultist out of the way then yells, “This brother is a traitor!” She stabs the knight with her shortsword then hits him across the face with the blunt side.
The knight drops his longsword and utters, “My lady…”
Rowan begins to detect the man’s thoughts, as Orlav drops his shield and warhammer and grapples the man. Rowan hears the knight’s surface thoughts, as he frantically thinks to himself, “Shit, what have I done?”
Orlav yells “Murderer! You killed Fremont Talaudrym!”
Rowan hears the knight ponder to himself, “Who the hell was Fremont Talaudrym?” Rowan probes deeper into the knight’s mind, and he yells “Agh, fuck, get out of my head!”
Orlav continues, “On the road to Red Larch, you attacked a caravan. You murdered Fremont!”
The knight thinks to himself, “Oh fuck, THAT’S what this is about? Shit, what should I say…” He looks at Naïru and says, “My lady, I promise, whatever this dragonborn says is a total lie.”
Orlav punches the knight in the face. The knight grins and says, “Oh, so that’s how you’re going to play it.”
The younger cultist tries to interject and says, “Umm, guys, I really think we should get out of here. The water cult could show up anytime.”
Ignoring him, Naïru says “What really happened then?”
Rowan is able to tell from probing his emotional state that the attack was simply wreckless hatred. Out loud, the knight says “Sometimes there’s collateral damage.”
Orlav draws his handaxe and strikes the knight with the blunt handle, knocking out a few teeth.
The knight stops smiling, and again turns to Naïru. He says, “My lady, I promise, we can settle this elsewhere. Willem here is right, we should leave as soon as possible. We can continue this conversation in front of a tribunal with Thurl…”
Naïru interrupts and says, “No, your jury is here and your trial is now. Your choices are between telling the truth and death.”
The knight concedes and says, “Yes, I believe I killed this person, I have a vague memory of the events.”
Naïru asks, “And no explanation for why?”
The knight says “The destructive power of the winds and storms is an expression of personal freedom.”
Orlav leans in as close as possible and yells, “You coward, you pretend to be the wind, but I am the storm!” The dragonborn exhales lightning into the knight’s face, killing him.
The group discusses what to do next. The surviving air cultist snaps out of his state of shock a few minutes later at mention of the water cult. He says “Gar Shatterkeel will need quite some time to restaff ever since the Knights of Samular took Rivergard Keep and blocked their only water exit.”
Naïru asks if that was the tunnel he came through, and the cultist explains that there’s a smaller tunnel through the gate at the lake landing to the southwest. He offers a place to rest with food and beds on the other side.
Naïru concentrates on her senses and determines there’s roughly forty humanoids still close by. The group discusses continuing on through the caves, despite pleas from the air cultist to leave. They discuss keeping the air cultist with them, which he pleads again that he doesn’t want to die fighting water cultists or running into the dragon turtle, Bronzefume.

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