NicksCF

The Duke must die! fourth session

Dawn without Darrian

A troubled night’s sleep

Purifying the temple

The trap-door

Attack of the wolf

Towers, crypts and gates

The tower of illusions

Coffin-crawler Jonulf

The halberd of Ereworn

Walking free

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The Duke must die! third session

The upper levels

Knight Fight

Throne of Evil

The Cultist

Guardroom

Fake Duke

Duke Darrian


The old and frail body of Duke Darian is dead and bleeding on the floor of the top room of his tower, impaled on the Spear of Ereworn. The body of Zagro the Warlock lies nearby, a large hole burnt into his side and his fine ringmail torn asunder by the evil magic of the Duke. Sir Grimble Bobbleberry is saddened by the passing of his friend, even though he was a strange foreigner with a large nose and Bobbleberry had trouble remembering his name. Aldo of the Brilliantly Coloured Robe is feeling much relieved as there is no longer a phantom sword hanging over his head. Nameless X examines the sword he picked out of Darian’s dead hands, wondering if it will also snap as easily as the one he found on the floor below. Meanwhile Jonulf, the rescued prisoner, hangs back near the entrance. He is excited that a segment of the Crystal of Elvaron has been found, despite also feeling sad at the loss of his good friend Merec, priest of the True Faith, who was tortured to death in Darian’s dungeons. He is suffering from malnutrition, fatigue and atrophy, and has a mental block that is preventing the use of the mind techniques he was taught by his mentor. Hopefully he can overcome his psychic block and help rid Ereworn of its curse.

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The Duke must die! second session

Into the dungeons

After a rough night in the abandoned room in Ereworn Castle, the four adventurers Sir Grimble Bobbleberry, Zagro the Warlock, Aldo of the Brilliantly Coloured Robe and Nameless X descended past the kitchen to the cellar. But the steps kept descending to a strange underground dining room. Rotting food and trash covered the tables, but the torches were lit and a curious magical fire burned without cease in the grate. Zagro found a secret cupboard with motionless zombie servants; he shut the door hastily. Nameless X noticed a passageway beyond the fireplace. He dived through the fire but could not escape some burns.

The Jailer

In the corridor beyond, Nameless X heard — and saw — a huge man approaching: the Jailer! Hearing Nameless’ shouts, the others joined the battle. The jailer captured Sir Grimble with a magical chain, but died soon.

Torture chamber

They found the prison and torture chamber. A man was tormented on the rack by skeletons with red-hot pokers. He was Jonulf, a broken mystic.

The Oubliette

Something called for help from one of the dark oubliette’s near the prison. But ascending the rope was a monstrous thing indeed, and hard to kill.

Black knight attack

They climbed up stairs from the prison, and found themselves in one of the towers. A black knight attacked them, in vain.

Zombie archers

Zombie archers aimed their weapons into the courtyard below; they did not expect to be attacked from the towers. The adventurers made short work of them.

The broken window

The wind howled through a broken window in front of an empty pedestal in a great hall. Weary Jonulf explained the history of the crystal with which the last sorcerer-king had kept evil from the kingdom, and what happened after.

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The Duke must die!

Return to the forest

Aldo of the Brilliantly Coloured Robe was nervous. He carried a magical spear which he had found in the mysterious forest to the south. Unfortunately the spirit who had given him the spear had also given him a Quest. Or a curse. Or perhaps both. The spirit had told he must kill the evil Duke Darrian within a week, or die himself! And after a few days of feasting and such after dealing with Ned the Hobgoblin, the end of the week — and possibly the end of Aldo’s life — was that much closer.

Fortunately he had his friends Zagro the Warlock and Sir Grimble Bobbleberry to help. And also, a mysterious stranger and hired killer Nameless X who just happened to be passing at the time.

The miserable village had little but good cheer for the heroes as they set off to put paid to the hated Duke. Zagro did persuade the blacksmith to repair his spear (which had been bitten by a magical fountain in the woods).

The high road and the low

There was one quick way to the Duke’s mountain castle — a mysterious black carriage led by black horses which the Duke sent to a certain clearing in the woods. Zagro, Aldo and Sir Grimble had seen it before. This time Aldo and Nameless jumped inside. Zagro and Sir Grimble decided to ride alongside. The carriage lurched off, and the two followed at an easy pace until an unseasonable storm blew up in the mountains. Snow flurries almost blinded the riders and they lost sight of the carriage.

The black carriage

Inside the carriage it seemed to Aldo and Nameless X that it was lurching along at a furious pace, bumping and bouncing along the mountain path. Before too long it lurched on to a cobbled path and into the gates of a mountain fortress. It came to rest in a torchlit courtyard. Arrows began to fly from the slit windows above! Also and Nameless X dodged and weaved, and found their way through a kitchen doorway. Traversing a few more doors and they were attacked some of the Duke’s mechanical armoured guards. Aldo and Nameless beat them off and retreated upwards through a trap door to one of the outer towers of the castle. This area seemed quieter and more defensible than the rest of the fortress, so they decided to rest a while.

Yeti attack!

In the snowstorm Zagro and Sir Grimble encountered a monstrous Yeti, which slashed the warlock with its powerful claws. Zagro impaled it with his spear and the monster retreated into the snow. Sir Grimble spotted a light through the flurries and they made their way to a fire in front of a cave. A serene-looking man sat there, dressed in white robes but not apparently feeling the cold. He invited the pair to share his fire. The man told a tale of petitioning the Duke, only to have the tyrant unleash his dogs upon him. Sir Grimble became particularly sleepy, but Zagro stayed awake. To his surprise the white-robed man vanished. Sir Grimble slept soundly. In the grey light of morning they searched the cave and found a skeleton dressed in tattered white robes and a small chest of potions.

Invisible bridge

Zagro and Sir Grimble followed the mountain path to a narrow bridge. Something about that bridge seemed odd to Zagro — he realised it was an illusion covering a deep abyss. Not far away were carriage tracks which seemed to lead directly toward a chasm, but with a step of faith Zagro and Sir Grimble realised the invisible bridge was solid. They continued on their way as a cry of rage emanated from the chasm.

Reunited

Nameless X spotted Sir Grimble and Zagro approaching the keep. He and Aldo waved to them. Zagro used his sorcery to levitate Sir Grimble’s rope across the moat which divided the tower from the path. Then they clambered up, leaving their black steeds behind.

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Outer Islands, third session
From the Runes of Skagharin

The wizard’s workroom

alchemy.pngSure enough, Moonshadow had found trouble. He had wandered downstairs, back to the cellar, and found a secret door. Fortunately Freilen (who always seemed to have his eye on the tall elf) noticed his departure and led the others down after him. They found a secret workroom. There were several more zombies surrounding the body of a wizard. Even more disturbing — a pentagram was inscribed on the floor. It contained a hateful undead creature which looked evilly at the companions. The zombies attacked and were quickly dealt with. Dintari warned the others not to obscure the pentacle. The wizard, it turned out, was still alive, though barely.

Wizard’s treasure

Behind the pentagram, perilously close to it, was a door. Moonshadow deftly crept through it but Skagharin wanted to go no closer to the thing in the pentagram. Freilen also slipped by. Moonshadow emerged with reports of a hidden chest of treasure. Skagharin’s eyes lit up — but he still kept his eye on the undead thing in the circle. After recovering the treasure, they sealed the cellar with the undead thing still inside.

Buried treasure

It was Frankie who had the idea of burying the treasure on the island, though all agreed. They found a deserted beach not far from the forest, and buried the treasure deep, for later recovery. Then they considered what to do with the mage.

In the end, they carried the vegetative wizard back to Lord Urgyle and explained the situation. Urgyle asked many questions, but in the end he released his prisoner, Ragnar of Durndorth

Ragnar of Durndorth

Skagharin gave a show of treating Ragnar roughly on the way back to Lassa’s Grace, but once on board he released the dwarf from his bonds and told him of their mission. Ragnar was keen to return to Durndorth but Skagharin insisted he should instead return to Owain the Merchant in Criggen Varas. He had no wish to linger longer on the Isle of Scarsy.

Return to Criggen Varas

Lassa’s Grace pulled out with the morning tide. As the Isle of Scarsy fell away, Skagharin felt some relief at having evaded Lord Urgyle’s tax-collectors. He knew they must return — both to collect their buried treasure and possibly to help Ragnar back to his homeland, but for now the dangers of Enom Tor were behind them.

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Outer Islands, second session
From the Runes of Skagharin

Enom Tor

Blood in the snow

It was Wodensday the 21st of Baelmonth, a still, cold day. Skagharin and his friends trudged through through the silent snowy woods towards the beacon tower of Enom Tor. Expecting trouble, Skagharin had donned his mail shirt and carried his new double-handed hammer. Apart from the mail it was almost like his old mining days. Suddenly — THWACK, he walked into a low hanging branch. He needed to keep his mind on the present.

They had not gone far before Freilin spotted a large splash of blood on the snow. Nearby was the oversized paw print of some kind of giant feline. Lions? Wild cats? There was no body and no drag marks. They moved on cautiously, staying upwind of the bloodstain.

The tower

The tower was built on a wide undercroft. There was no sign of life as they approached, so Freilin, Moonshadow and Frankie crept past the door, which was hanging half off its hinges. Dintari and Skagharin stood guard outside — until the sudden scrape and crash of furniture alerted them that all was not well.

Monstrous felines

displacer-beast.pngThey found a chaotic scene. Furniture was scattered and upended. In the doorway of the bedroom were two bizarre cat-like creatures, jet black with clawed tentacles waving menacingly from their hindquarters. Frankie was trying to push a table to block the doorway, but was straining and struggling. Moonshadow and Freilin readied their bows to either side.

Skagharin rushed to the table and shoved with considerable force. The table screeched to the door, but the cat-thing was faster. It burst through, knocking the table over onto Frankie and the dwarf — only to receive Moonshadow’s arrow through its eye at point blank range. It shuddered and collapsed.

The second black tentacular feline leaped through, swatting Skagharin with its tentacles as it did so. If he had not been wearing mail, the vicious claws would have ended his life. As it was he was bruised and winded from the blow. The creature seemed to shimmer when his companions struck at it; they often missed. Raising his hammer high Skagharin smashed the creature’s spine. Moonshadow blasted it almost simultaneously with his pretty pretty magical darts. For the first time ever Skagharin saw a gleam of respect in the elf’s eyes.

After the fight

All was quiet once the dreadful cat-things had been killed. Skagharin and Freilin had both been wounded. When Skagharin tried to physick Freilin, the stunted one passed out from the pain. Moonshadow did a similar botched job on Skagharin’s wound. Elves!

Meanwhile, Dintari and Frankie explored. They found a kitchen and pantry and they cooked up some food while waiting for Freilin to regain consciousness. Moonshadow found a locked chest with some gold, a silver dagger and two potions. Skagharin claimed the dagger, and Freilin (when he awoke) drank one potion and revived considerably.

The Cellar

They continued to explore. In the cellar were four zombies who pursued them up the stairs and were easily destroyed. The cellar contained alchemical ingredients, some of which were valuable.

Heights of the tower

Leaving the cellar, they ascended the stairs, past a storeroom and up to a trapdoor which felt strangely warm. Pushing through the trapdoor they found themselves in a light-filled room, full of steamy vegetation. The air was warm and earthy. The walls were made of white-coloured glass. An iron spiral staircase wound up through the centre of the room. Chained to the floor was a strange bird-headed humanoid. Frankie gave the creature some food and cautiously approached. The bird-man seemed non-hostile and intelligent, so Frankie unlocked its manacles. The birdman ran out and downstairs.

The Bellows Fellow

Above the garden was the top of the tower. The beacon was there, unlit. A solitary zombie pumped a bellows which had become detached from the foghorn. Frankie rushed over and killed the zombie. The tower was quiet, no sign of the mage Carthadon. It seemed the beasts below had escaped from captivity and..maybe eaten him? Skagharin looked down at the island below, then looked around him. Where was Moonshadow?

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Outer Islands, first session
From the Runes of Skagharin

The Outer Islands

ship-on-waves371x109.png

A winter voyage

It was the 16th day of Baelmonth, winter time and not the best for sea voyaging. Nevertheless Skagharin and his crew reckoned it would be possible to make the Isle of Scarsy. Skagharin knew of the place through his travels up and down this coast. He estimated about three days’ sail. Fortune’s fickle though; he estimated wrongly. Soon Lassa’s Grace was outfitted and the city of Criggen Varas slipped away abaft the beam.

Corpse afloat

After a day or so, Frankie spotted what looked like a raft with a castaway aboard. Skagharin steered the ship close by and Frankie jumped down to investigate. As he did so, Skagharin heard a noise on the other side of the ship. He turned and saw fish-like boarders creeping up over the railing.

Sea-devil attack!

Moonshadow, Freilin, Dintari and Skagharin rushed to defend their ship. More fish-men emerged from the sea, firing crossbow bolts from the water. Meanwhile Frankie found only a bloated corpse on the raft below — a baited trap! The battle was short and sharp. Skagharin and Freilin were wounded with arrows but the sea-devils were driven off the boat and back to the briny depths.

Man overboard

A day after the seadevil attack a sudden gust of wind almost tipped the boat over. Everyone was jolted, but Dintari stumbled and fell overboard. Frankie tied a rope to himself and swan dived — only to crack his head on the railing and plummet into the water unconscious. Two men overboard! Cursing, Skagharin dived in to save his friend (who was a poor swimmer), while the elves hauled Frankie aboard. Wet and bedraggled, they continued their voyage to the Isle of Scarsy.

Isle of Scarsy

Lassa’s Grace floated into Scarsy Harbour after six days at sea. Scarsy Town was a typical small fishing village. The crew disembarked and made their way to a harbourside tavern. After some warming ales, the locals recommended a visit to the local lord, Lord Urgyle. They were more reticent with regard to Ragnar of Derndorth, though they did mention a colony of dwarves elsewhere on the island.

Meeting with Lord Urgyle

It was a short trip up the hill to Lord Urgyle’s manor. After a brief wait he granted them an audience. As it turned out, his opinion of Ragnar of Derndorth was low: “a smuggler and a thief”. Dintari gave him the impression that Ragnar was wanted for further punishment by Owain of Criggen Varas. Urgyle agreed to hand over the dwarf in exchange for help with a certain matter. The nearby beacon tower of Carthadon had gone dark, except for a strange shimmering light a week ago. The healer in charge of the tower had made no report. Urgyle wanted someone to investigate. Dintari agreed to perform the task.

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Ereworn Coast, fifth session
From the Runes of Skagharin

Sea voyage to Criggen Varas

Farewell to Brutarl

Lassa’s Grace made ready to cast off from Skull Island and its miserable village. But Brutarl was having none of it. He plucked his weapons and some treasures from the hold and strode off into the hills, barely looking back.

Aground…at sea

Things were a lot quieter without impatient Brutarl around. The ship sailed through the waves and Skagharin was slightly cheered by finally having another halfway competent sailor on board. But Fate punishes those who get too cocky, and there was a terrible wrenching sound as the boat struck a submerged rock. Skagharin cursed but Lassa’s Grace did not break up and he managed to steer the her out of danger. He ignored Moonshadow’s scornful gaze. If that preening alien would spend as much time learning to sail as combing his hair these dangers might never have happened!

Tower in the sea

The next day, Freilen spotted a strange tower in the sea. Skagharin altered course to investigate. It was a stone tower with shuttered windows. Its closed wooden door was very close to sea level, though not awash. The crew disembarked to investigate. Frankie heard a strange splash near the boat, but saw nothing. Frelin considered climbing up to the tower window. Suddenly the tower trembled. Skagharin ordered everyone back to the boat. No sooner than they had boarded Lassa’s Grace and cast off, the mysterious tower sank beneath the waves.

Criggen Varas

On the fourth day at sea they sighted Criggen Varas. They paid the harbour taxes and went ashore. Dintari, Skagharin and Frankie visited the market place to sell their treasures, while the elves remained aboard. Skagharin let Dintari do the talking.

After selling their wares, the crew of Lassa’s Grace sought the merchant Owain, father of the unfortunate Melisana. His mansion was up on the hill.

The house of Owain

Owain was very distressed to hear of his daughter’s death. The adventurers retired to their inn but later received a message from the merchant. He apologised for his rudeness and invited them to share his hospitality, but please not to attend his daughter’s funeral. The mansion was very comfortable after the rigours of the last few weeks.

Skagharin spent some time training. After all he had seen, he had decided he needed more skill in heavy combat, not just tavern-brawling. And if it were to be heavy, no bones about it then. None of this prancing about like an elf. He bought himself a huge double-handed hammer, quite similar to his mining sledgehammers of old; it would crack skulls as well as rocks if necessary.

Adventurers’ bond

Later, Owain sent for the adventurers again. There was, he said, a dwarf named Ragnar of Derndorth, a trading partner from Scarsy, one of the outer islands of Ellesland. This Ragnar had disappeared a few months back, and Owain was keen to contact him over some unpaid debts. Owain agreed to pay 400 gold if Ragnar could be found.

Skagharin, Moonshadow, Dintari, Freilin and Frankie eyed each other. They had faced many dangers together. They agreed to stay together and adventure aboard Lassa’s Grace, sharing any treasure gained. Dintari accepted Owain’s offer.
sea-friendship.png

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Ereworn Coast, fourth session
From the Runes of Skagharin

Top of the sink hole

Skagharin heaved himself to the top of the sinkhole, along with his companions. He noted with distaste that Dintari had carried the demon-worshipping priest up with them. The priest still lived, though he was unconscious. “What did you bring him up for?”, he asked irritably. Dintari shrugged. A chilly grey sky pressed down on Skull Island. Skagharin shivered. The priest Alefric led them back to his stone temple, where the fires of Brigantia still roared in the hearth. Moonshadow was injured; he slumped in the corner. They tied and gagged the priest. Skagharin examined the strange crystal. It was orange in colour, glowed slightly, and was like no rock Skagharin had seen on earth or under it.

Fire and food

It had been an eventful night, but Skagharin did not feel like rest. He wandered the island with Alefric in search of food, but also to scout out the territory by daylight. Alefric pointed out a small bay with a usable dinghy pulled ashore. “The villagers used it,” he said. The two also passed a deeper sinkhole, and the old watchtower which was now a nesting place for eagles. Alefric and Skagharin climbed up and down the cliffs to gather eggs for breakfast.

When they returned to the temple, Freilen had been interrogating the prisoner. Freilen said the priest had offered him great wealth. Skagharin was skeptical. “The only wealth in this entire village is the inkeeper’ s better stuffs — but we saw none of that.” Freilen noted consternation in the priest’ s eyes at the mention of the inn.

When everyone was up and breakfasted, they decided to investigate the eagles’ tower. They dragged the priest along too.

Eagles of the tower

screamingeagle.png
The eagles swooped and keened over the tower. How to get them to move on without killing them? Skagharin glanced at the demon-priest in disgust. This one would happily have ended all their lives; Freilen pointed out a skeleton at the base of the tower and Skagharin nodded. They staked out the priest, still bound and gagged. One of the eagles swooped to investigate, and Brutarl and Moonshadow advanced to the tower. The other eagle swooped to attack, but Skagharin threw a rock at it and it dispersed, giving the warriors their chance to make the safety of the tower. They reached the top soon afterwards and lit a huge fire. Screaming with rage, the eagles flew away from the tower. The demon priest was dead. Skagharin and Dintari hurled his eyeless body into the sinkhole.

Ill-gotten gains

They bade farewell to Alefric, who from now on would be able to man the old lighthouse, and departed Skull Island. They returned to the inn in the village, the Silver Halyard. Captain Rakehell was there, behind the bar now. Skagharin comiserated with him on the loss of his ship, making no mention of the strange crystal. Brutarl and Skagharin started drinking, while Moonshadow and Freilen investigated below. After only a few drinks, Skagharin heard noises below. He descended and saw a cellar stuffed with barrels and bolts of cloth — stolen from wrecked ships. Freilen, Moonshadow and a strange human were staring at the contents of a chest. Skagharin stuck his head in to admire the gold. Moonshadow started guiltily. “And who is this?” asked Skagharin of the stranger.

“Frankie, a navigator held captive by the wreckers.”

Skagharin rubbed his chin. Navigator, eh? Lassa’s Grace had need of competent crew. Adlek had been brave, but not competent. Maybe this newcomer would sail with them?

Frankie joined them, and they loaded as much loot as they could in Lassa’s Grace, and set sail with the morning tide.

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Ereworn Coast, third session
From the Runes of Skagharin

Skull Island

Beneath the Island

Adlek spied a tunnel across the dark water from the wrecked Black Pearl. The others used barrels and rope to get themselves over the lake. The tunnel seemed unused, and had a salty smell. It led up beneath the island. At the first junction they turned right (both ways smelled fishy to Skagharin) but the tunnel was soon submerged. They returned the other way and found themselves on a ledge near the bottom of a deep shaft.

Bottom of the well

Coins glinted below, and Brutarl leaped for them. Skagharin ignored him and pondered the ascent. The walls were very smooth and difficult — but not impossible — to climb. Brutarl complained that the coins were worthless and Skagharin rolled his eyes. Then Freilen, the strange ugly elf muttered some incantation and began to creep up the smooth sides of the well like a weird spider. Skagharin shuddered slightly, but watched as the elf made it to the top, and reported in a whisper that it was open air above. The elf may have used magic, but the rest of them would need something more tangible. Skagharin and Dintari returned to wreck to retrieve some rope and a barrel. These things in hand and lifted to the top by Freilen, it was a fairly quick matter to haul everyone to the surface.

The stone building

They emerged from a well near a stone building with shuttered windows, surrounded by a high stone wall. There was light behind the shutters, but they decided to explore around first. They reached a corner of the compound and saw strangely active trees, which whipped at them. They beat a retreat from the trees and Moonshadow slipped his knife under the latch of the shutters.

“WHO’S THERE?” came a voice from within. The shutters were thrown open by an old man in white robes.

Priest of Brigantia

Dintari asked him if he had wrecked the ship below but he denied it. He said the villagers were demon-worshippers; that they had done this deed. The man identified himself as Alefric, a priest of Brigantia. He calmed the wild trees and invited the crew into his temple, which was warmed by a huge flaming hearth.

Alefric told the tale of Skull Island, of how a great wave had washed over it and drowned its inhabitants; of the old signal tower now abandoned and a nesting place for eagles; and of the demon-worshipping villagers who slipped about between the village and the island by means of tunnels and sinkholes. The old man offered to take the adventurers to one of these sinkholes this very night. They agreed.

The sink-hole

The old man led them past the ruins of the village to a deep hole in the ground. He cleared some vegetation to reveal ancient stone steps leading down. Moonshadow and Freilen descended, supposedly stealthily, but Skagharin could hear them clattering away below.

Descent

Unfortunately, Skagharin was not the only one to hear the elves. There was the sound of fighting from below, and Skagharin and the rest hurried down the steps to help. They came into a lighted chamber at the bottom, filled with candles and the flayed skins of bizarre sea creatures. Moonshadow, looking paler than usual, clutched a bloody wound. On the floor was a dead harpooner in bloodied robes.

Cave of the Cultists

They followed a corridor from the underground shrine. Ahead was the sound of chanting. Adlek, Moonshadow and Freilen crept ahead to observe a cave with an underground lake filled with villager cultists. On a promontory in the lake stood the priest with a dagger in one hand and a glowing gem in the other. A sacrificial victim lay shrouded below him.

Moonshadow and Freilen immediately tried to shoot the priest with arrows. Brutarl charged and roared his battle cry — but the strange accoustics of the water cave dampened his voice to a weak whisper. The cultists were unaffected. Dintari and Skagharin advanced, along with Alefric, whose staff blazed with fire. Skagharin lit an oil flask on the staff and flung it into the cultists, who had pulled out cudgels and were advancing. Brutarl and Dintari pulled out their swords and began to hack and slay. Suddenly darkness enveloped all; the evil priest had cast some magic at the cave entrance. But Alefric performed some counterspell and the darkness lifted

A watery grave

The priest was punctured with arrows from the elves, but it did not stop him from sacrificing his victim. As he fought, Skagharin noticed disturbingly large ripples forming on the surface of the dark cave water. Skagharin heard a sickening crack and Adlek screamed as a cultist clubbed him down. The priest collapsed and the fight was turning against the cultists, but now the presence in the water was making itself felt. It was time to retreat. Skagharin leaped to the promontory, grabbed the gem and was going to grab Adlek, but the sailor shook his head. Skagharin rushed for the door as a great wave erupted from the cave, flooding the tunnel, bashing the survivors against the walls. With great effort, Skagharin retained his footing and made it to the sinkhole, where the rising water lapped against the steps. He made it up and rejoined his companions, battered but alive — except for Adlek who had perished in the waters below.

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