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 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.
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.