Shark Attack!

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Grabbing their supplies, the Xaniqos rush out through the nautical curtain decorations at the front of the temple and run towards the raft. As it is still untouched, they soon are paddling back towards the shore.

You will never leave this place alive!

Back at the island, the shape of a kua-toa raises her arms, and the water around the raft starts to swirl. The Whip is able to control the water!

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The raft rolls on the undulating waves and the drow hang on for dear life. Lilith tries to take out the Whip, but loses her concentration when the raft bucks violently. Her spell is lost. Her brother summons a large earth elemental, which attacks the kua-toa and beats her to death in a mighty blow. To their chagrin, the maelstrom continues. And that is not the only threat. On all sides, fins break the surface, eager for four drow snacks.

Alvra throws a javelin at the huge shark and hits, but the blood only makes it wilder. It dives under and rocks the vessel. Their balancing skills save them from falling – for now. The maelstrom is getting a better grip on the raft and they move in ever accelerating circles. All of a sudden, Phaedra is gone in a puff of smoke. Jharrath and Lilith peddle with all their might, moving slowly but steadily towards the shore, while the fighter searches the water for threats.

When the dire shark comes up, Alvra again wounds it with a javelin. All sharks – big and small – go into a frenzy and both brothers are thrown into the water. The fighter quickly climbs back up. A giant mouth appears next to Jharrath. It closes with an audible snap, missing the wizard by inches. He manages to get a hold on the raft and with the help of Alvra, scrambles back aboard. Another javelin finds its bloody mark, and the fish trashes wildly, Lilith tries to steady the raft, but loses her balance and topples over. The Xaniqos cleric starts to sink in the churning waters; her armor is too heavy to stay afloat.

Meanwhile, Phaedra has reached the shore in her gaseous form. She invokes an immediate action and turns into a flash of bright light. The two waiting Monitors are affected: one is blinded and the other dazzled. The scout crouches down, invisible again, and takes out her grappling hook and a rope. She watches the scene that unfolds on the lake. Quickly she attaches the hook to the rope and secures it to the scaffolding, waiting for the right moment to come to her siblings’ rescue.

The dire beast, searching for an easier prey now the wizard is out of reach, turns towards Lilith. In a powerful movement of his tail fin, he swims closer, grapples the cleric and swallows her whole. Lilith is shark meat!

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In successive throws, Alvra punctures the huge fish again and again with his throwing weapon, trying to save his mistress. The maelstrom, moving the raft in smaller circles, heaves and bucks, and both drow keel over into the water. With a bite and a swallow, the wizard also disappears down the shark’s maul, while the fighter once again climbs onto the raft.

Phaedra throws the grappling hook onto the float. Hereby she gives away her location to the two monitors and is attacked. While fighting off both kua-toas, she starts hauling the raft back to the safe shore.

Inside the shark, the situation of the Xaniqos is getting worse. The mighty muscles of the fish pummel them raw and stomach fluids try to eat away at their skin. Jharrath especially is affected by the acid. The cleric’s body suddenly erupts with eight tendrils – she has cast Yochlol’s blessing – and she attacks the dire beast from within, focusing on one spot. The wizard uses both his wands and a Kellgore’s firebolt and sears the fish innards with fire. Finally, overcome by the internal fight, Jharrath goes down.

By now the waters have turned so wild that even a trained fighter like Alvra cannot keep his balance. The dire shark, recognizing his tormentor, immediately bites and tries to grapple the drow, but Alvra is a seasoned warrior. He fights back and escapes, refusing to serve as dinner for the beast. The drow attacks with his short sword, and even his armor is biting the fish.

The scout drops the rope and quickly steps out of the range of the two monitors. She takes out her crossbow and fires at the dire shark in her skirmishing combat style. The fish, battled from without and within, finally subsides and dies, floating belly up at the surface of the lake. Phaedra has killed it!

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Immediately Alvra starts sawing in the stomach area, while Lilith does the same from within. She takes a moment to drink a strong healing potion and resumes the grizzly task of freeing herself and her wizard brother. When the fighter finally cuts through the layers of fat, he helps the cleric climb out of the shark belly, and together they free the lifeless form of Jharrath.

At the beach, the monitors lose their faith. Their opponent keeps dis- and appearing and won’t stand still. Their Whip, their once mighty cleric, is dead. Their giant pet shark is now fish meat. All they have been fighting for is gone. Disillusioned, they dive into the water and are gone. Phaedra throws a rope towards Alvra and Lilith and helps them get back to shore. Dripping wet, they walk back to Erelhei-Cinlu, carrying their dead brother home.

The Temple of Blessed Seahaven

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With full backpacks and a new supply of healing potions and wooden stakes, the siblings set out to Blessed Seahaven. After a couple of hours, they arrive at the large lake. Two kua-toas guard the stone arch that leads to the lake. Soon the peace and quiet will be over, so Lilith buffs Alvra with a strength spell, while she casts Iron silence on her own armor.

Phaedra races towards the kua-toas and attacks one of them with her spiked chain. The guard falls down and cries out in pain, heavily wounded. Before the other can react, Alvra’s javelin pierces his torso. A volley of magic missiles and an agile scout end the short fight.

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The drow find a raft and silently peddle towards the temple. Several fins, belonging to sharks, break the surface –one very big, the others smaller– but nothing happens, and soon they arrive at the temple shore. They secure the raft and follow Phaedra to the secret door. A big-shouldered kua-toa patrols the premises -probably a monitor- while another watches the water. Quickly the cleric casts a spell to help them avoid the effect of possible harmful spells.

The scout kills one of the monitors, but the act is witnessed by the kua-toas in a spawning pool on the other side of the lake. A fireball soon ends the commotion, but the flames cannot be unnoticed for long. They have to get inside! Phaedra is able to open the secret door by operating a mechanism, and quickly the four drow enter the temple. Just in time, for on the other side of the door, the second guard tries to follow them.

Vuon’s bedroom is luxuriously decorated with silk tapestries and wooden furniture. A second room reveals a library. The tubes with carts are equipped with the kua-toan language system: chains made of shells that convey a sound –a message– when moved through water. Quickly they pass a smelly privy and enter the main room. A monitor, two whips and a vampire kua-toan High Priestess are waiting for them.

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The latter holds forth her holy symbol and yells “Punish the infidels!”. The dark goddess Blibdoolpoolp decides to aid her priestess, for the whip’s strength is astonishing. After a vicious fight, where Phaedra gets pushed into a basin that leads to a lake and has to fend off a fiendish shark, where earth elementals pound and Alvra’s energy is drained, where searing lights and magic missiles find their target, the Xaniqos finally win. Lilith drives a wooden stake through the heart of the high priestess and ends her unnatural life. Their end of the bargain has been held: Vuon former second-in-command, Sloomike Goldskill, is no more.

Lilith calls her sister and brothers into a healing circle, restores the energy level of Alvra and gives him and Phaedra extra attention to heal their wounds. The siblings then gather the possessions of the dead: several necklaces, bracers, a shell vest, a couple of frost pincer staffs, some healing potions, magical amulets and rings.

Jharrath searches the sanitary room and detects a hidden space. There’s magic at work here! He calls in the help of his sister and together they try to dispel the magical illusion, but none of it works. In the end, the wizard calls forth two earth elementals and orders them to see what is behind the wall. When they return, they convey an image of a large coffin, a couple of scrolls and a chest.

 

Attack of the Sahuagins

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The name Glimmersea is well chosen: although it is very dark, the waves shimmer with a light of their own. One of the Kua-Toas takes position in front of the vessel, another in the back and the third scouts in all directions. They are alert and take their quest seriously. The journey is very boring: the Xaniqos siblings can see only a few feet around the boat. The only visible things are stalactites and small islands and rock formations, which soon disappear into the dark again.

After two days, the Kua-toas gather more often, speaking aggressively among themselves, while their silver color slowly changes to red. Something is amiss! One of their guides hops into the boat and warns them of danger: a group of Sahuagin is drawing closer!

The Sahuagin are a lizard-like aquatic race, the predators of the Glimmersea. They hunt in packs, live to fight and hate Drow – especially spell-casters – with a vengeance. The Sahuagin society is patriarchal, with kings and princes. The law of the jungle rules: the strongest is appointed king.

Before long the Drow spot several rafts, fish heads bobbing next to them. The creatures have scales and fins and are as large as humans. Furthermore, the water is seething with sharks.

Jharrath casts a fireball in between the two front rafts and hits them well, therewith announcing his spell-casting abilities to the magic-loathing Sahuagins. Two Kua-Toas unite their powers and send a sizzling bolt of lightning towards the predators, shattering the last remnants of one of the four rafts. Lilith activates her spiritual weapon and directs it over the raft on the left, while Alvra readies for action.

The lizards clamber aboard their rafts and attack the sisters – Scout and Cleric – from a distance with nets. Both Phaedra and Lilith get entangled; the male siblings are able to stay free of the nets. When a Sahuagin tries to board the boat, the Drow Fighter attacks. Jharrath summons an Earth Elemental. Whereas Phaedra manages to escape, Lilith gets dragged against the edge of the wooden boat and is rendered immobile. Unable to join the fight, she hisses with frustration. Her spiritual weapon continues to do damage. Alvra is in a fight with the Sahuagin, while the Kua-toas are in deathly battle with the sharks in the water. More aquatic warriors climb into the boat.

One of their attackers is bigger than the rest and has an extra set of arms and legs. This must be the leader of the Sahuagins, since this kind of abnormality often comes with extra strength. The eight-limb beast dives into the water and joins the fray.

Suddenly a screen of smoke appears, forming an acid curtain between the boat and new attackers: Wizard in action. There’s a lot of confusion and hissing going on in there. The Elemental kills the first Sahuagin, and Phaedra slices another one. Alvra goes into a fit, hacking and slashing like a madman, resulting in a frenzied reaction of the beast, which is quickly cut off as the Elemental makes his second victim. Two more of the monstrous humanoids climb up from the water and attack Jharrath. The body of a Kua-Toa floats lifeless in the water, killed by a shark.

The Scout feels a thud near her feet and discovers she’s being attacked by crossbows. While the Wizard casts another wall of smoke – this one stationary – Phaedra attacks a creature in the boat and manages to kill it. Lilith’s spiritual weapon ends the life of another seawolf, and when the Cleric sees two muscled salamander feet next to her, she quickly redirects it onto this opponent. Alvra succeeds in severing a couple of threads of the net around his Cleric sister, which gives her a bit more freedom of movement.

More Sahuagin step through the smoke into the middle of the boat, chanting Flesh. They suddenly look very hungry and attack the spell-caster with their claws, causing deep wounds. Enraged, Jharrath summons a new Earth Elemental and together they pummel another Sahuagin to death. Taking advantage of the turmoil aboard, Phaedra completely cuts through the net that is holding her sister and frees her. Hurriedly, the Cleric tries to get her blood circulation working again. Her sister protects her by firing bolts at her assailant.

While the leader of the waterwolves disappears under water, Alvra hurls a javelin towards one of the few remaining raft-riders. The Sahuagin slowly topples forward, the net falling from its claws. Then the Drow Fighter is attacked from behind by the leader of the Sahuagin, whose trident is a frenzied blur.

Kellgore’s Firebolt – sent by the Wizard – ends the life of a waterwolf, and the sisters defend the boat against the entering of more Sahuagins, dealing blows on grabbing hands with flail and spiked chain alike. When Lilith kills one of the remaining Sahuagins, the Spider Queen grants her extra powers (Lolth’s Meat).

Alvra casts a globe of darkness on the leader, also obscuring the Scout and Wizard. Taking a few steps back, Jharrath orders his Elementals to attack in the pitch black, aided by the Fighter and his Scout sister. Lilith is outside the globe and throws the corpses of the slayed Sahuagins overboard. When she hears grunts and hissing, she dispels the globe of darkness to see what is going on. Alvra is not amused by this action – she has taken away his advantage to fight in the dark – but takes the opportunity to drink a potion. Eight-Limbs  jumps into action and bull rushes Phaedra overboard. Lilith attacks the scaled beast, soon joined by Alvra. The Drow Fighter manages to kill the raid leader, the last of their opponents.

The Cleric helps her sister back on board, who is followed by the two remaining Kua-Toas. One of them is heavily wounded and Lilith heals him as well as her brother. The other Kua-Toa jumps back in the water to retrieve Alvra’s javelin. The raiding party has been beaten off and the Glimmersea is quiet once more.

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Blessed Seahaven

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Filled with the adrenaline of executing their Matron Mother’s wishes – and of executing the Bard – the siblings swiftly travel the Underdark towards Blessed Seahaven. It is a small village in and on the water, centered around a temple. The inhabitants, the Kua-Toas, worship Blid Dool Poolp, a great sea god – although sea monster would be a more correct term. Still the Kua-Toas gain special powers through their worship. The Glimmersea glistens in the distance, while a small lake is nearby.

The Kua-Toas have fish heads with vaguely human features. They are scaly, have webbed hands and feet and are armed with small shields and tridents. One could say they are very ugly. But they can fight! These cruel green creatures are very alert and well trained warriors. The skin color of Kua-Toas changes, depending on their emotions. When they are white, they are scared, and when in anger, red. The eyesight of these creatures is extremely good, they even see invisible things. Poisons can’t harm them, and though they are water creatures, they manage remarkably well on land. It is good the Kua-Toas are friendly towards the Honorary Drow.

The Xaniqos walk up to the temple and the closer they come, the more their noses are assaulted by a heavy rotting-fish odor. It completely permeates the air. They enter the stone structure and find themselves in a big hall. Even on the inside there is a water basin. A Priestess, wearing a gold cap and a pincer staff, is in the middle of leading a service. The Kua-Toas are completely devoted and in their eyes total fanaticism gleams. When the sermon reaches its crescendo, two acolytes drift outwards and return with a wretched creature: a captured goblin. The Priestess accompanies the acolytes towards the water basin and drowns the prisoner, offering its life to her God. The butt end of the staff striking the ground announces the end of the ceremony.

Then the Priestess introduces herself to the Cleric as Plill Seachild and respectfully bids them welcome. She was already awaiting the Xaniqos and tells Lilith that the trip to Looblishar will take four to five days by water.

It will be a dangerous passage. The Glimmersea is an underground sea; there is no wind to use as power for transportation. In stead travelers magically create wind, or simply row. There is a current in the lukewarm water since it is enormously deep and vast.

On your journey over the Glimmersea, you will be accompanied by three of my faithful acolytes. Afterwards they will continue on their pilgrimage to The Goddess, the Holy Mother. Oh, and by the way, I have a request on behalf of Sloomik Goldscale, my second-in-command. Could you give this letter to Vuon in the Temple of Looblishar?

Lilith examines the ‘letter’, a chain made of shells that convey a sound – a message – when moved through water. Plill doesn’t seem to be charmed by her very ambitious second-in-command. She continues:

The only God who holds sway over Looblishar is Shar, Mistress of the Night. And although there is a Kua-Toas settlement in the  city, alas they have left our real God. The city is utterly and completely dark and the only merchandise is information. Beware of the many dangers that lurk out there. Apart from intrigue, you might encounter bats, hookhorrors and darkmantles.

The Priestess leads the way towards a jetty, where several boats are moored. One of them is rather large, with six hobgoblins on board. The acolytes swim towards the vessel, and the Xaniqos wade after them. The boat has no cabin, no luxury whatsoever. There are only the hobgoblins, who turn out to be dead yet alive, and their oars. One of the Kua-Toas commands the zombies to row and off the party goes, heading out onto the Glimmersea.

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>>  what came before