Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Tale of the Last Captain (part3)

Jezabell, Nuwah Kawah, William, Blu and Mandingo step through the gate after Daena Sabertooth.

They step into an underground cavern, somewhere deep under Skullcape. Daena explains the site is one of the last burial grounds remaining from the era before Manifest. These catacombs were used, she says, by the people who lived there long before there were any pirates on the waters Skullcape, and before the site was named as such. The sages of the area suspected these people were part of the Great Host that came to the Spires long ago and defeated the Lost Kingdom to the South. After all, some of the tombs down there seemed too large to belong to any human being, so who could these belong to, besides some of the giants, these "Hu Charad" of old?

Soon enough it seems clear the place is no longer at peace. As was the case in Ogrebound's cemetary, undead are roaming the corridors of the complex. Something or someone is awakening the dead all over the area! The heroes avoid traps and other hazards during their exploration, and finally meet Lo Careth, a friend of Daena, who found refuge in the catacombs when the pirates' camp was attacked by the forces of Hornsdeep.

But it is instantly apparent Lo Careth has changed somehow. It is clear he wants to kill Daena and her companions. He performs a ritual and changes into a hulking, raging beast. Some Rodhins appear out of nowhere and join the fray. A terrible battle follows while Daena, shocked at the change of her friend, is left to her thoughts, undecided.

Only when Lo Careth falls does she react, showing her suffering and pain as she looses a friend she trusted beyond all others. Whoever triggered this dramatic change in Lo Careth would have to pay. This is with this single thought in mind that she goes on through the corridors, going straight for one of the main burial chambers, knowing whoever would have come to the catacombs couldn't have resisted to the lust for treasures this place inspired.

Indeed, they find one of their enemies there. A Mojh who seems to know the heroes of Ogrebound. Jezabell and William remember the message they found in the possession of one of the bandits who attacked them on the road north to Ogrebound: this Mojh has to be connected to them somehow, but there is no time to ask questions. After a many blows and many spells have been exchanged, the Mojh is defeated, and the heroes are left with no answers to their questions.

Skullcape's Burial Grounds, Level 1
1- Entry point from the portal to the Surface
2- Undead Ambush and multiple traps
3- The cistern - access to Level 2 (see below)
4- Lo Careth and stairs to the above Burial Chamber
5- The Mojh and Burial Chamber
6- Room badly damaged over the time - access to Level 3 (see below)

Skullcape's Burial Grounds, Level 2 - Natural Caves
1- Access to Level 1 (see below and Level 1, #3- The Cistern)
2- Living area for the Inshons (with underwated access to #2a)
2a- Second Living area of the Inshons (with underwater access to #6)
3- Ante-chamber to one of the dragons' lair (with underwater access to #2a)
4- First twin's lair
5- Second twin's lair
6- Secret breeding chamber of the Inshons

The heroes of Ogrebound go on their search for the Last Captain and the access to the Trireme of the Doomed moored nearby.

Soon, the adventurers discover that a cistern nearby serves is in fact a flooded shaft leading to another, unexplored area of the complex. They decide to dive in, and after a few excruciating minutes holding their breaths, they emerge in natural caverns which serve as the breeding grounds of a tribe of Inshons.

But the Inshons are not really hostile to the newcomers. Indeed, two twin black dragons have been taking over this cave complex and ordering them around for the past while. They came in recently, they add, and they are waiting for someone. The heroes decide to help the Inshons out, but after trying to confront the twins, it becomes clear these dragons, who are in fact Mojh able to shapechange into black dragons, present an opposition far beyond their abilities. They flee the scene through the flooded tunnel where they came from.

The adventurers and Daena Sabertooth investigate further the first level of the burial grounds. They finally find a grand chamber where hundreds of bodies were piled up. Today, only their fragile bones remain as a legacy to their number and might. Opening the chamber causes many of these remains to crumble to dust, and the adventurers have to wait before entering.

When they finally do come in the room, it is obvious some sort of geological activity was at work some time after the complex's construction. This burial chamber was torn apart, and a huge rift was tearing the room apart right in the middle of it.

With no other options, the adventurers decide to climb down the natural opening. They soon discover yet another level to the complex, and instantly start to explore. This level was left untouched for centuries, and it is not long before they discover the tomb of the Last Captain. Daena helps summon the spirit, and then asks the permission to access the Trireme of the Doomed. The Last Captain's spirit agrees to the request if his visitors can bring him to rest. He explains how he was caught during one of his expeditions, and how he was brought back to Skullcape to be tortured and buried alive in the catacombs. One of the magisters who punished him created elemental seals around his tomb. His spirit was trapped until now, the seals stopping him from reaching the afterlife.

Only after defeating all the seals and talking to each of their elemental spirits could the adventurers free the Last Captain's spirit, and talk to each spirit they did. Their wits are rudely tested through riddles and enigmas inflicted upon them by the spirits (the Last Captain hated such things in his lifetime and could not bring himself to solve them, which was known by many just prior to his capture), but they finally manage to overcome all the difficulties cropping up in their way.

Skullcape's Burial Grounds, Level 3 - Tomb of the Last Captain
1- Water Seal
2- Air Seal
3- Earth Seal and access to Underdark mines
4- Fire Seal and access to the open sea (and Trireme)

Finally, before departing, the Last Captain agrees to take them to the Trireme of the Doomed. He leads them back to the Fire Seal, and there the heroes of Ogrebound see a small skiff just reaching the shore. They join the Last Captain on the skiff and leave the burial grounds.

The Trireme of the Doomed is a large ship moored near Skullcape. It looks as if it was sculpted from a single piece of ebony, and huge, heavy copper arabesques cover its hull. Its sails are all aged and shriveled. There is no crew to be seen.

The heroes follow the Last Captain up to the Trireme. A few minutes they wait, the Last Captain just standing there without uttering a word. Then, they see movement: at first, it is just a strange feeling, and the heroes do not know if they are just imagining things, but then, the movements, the forms and shapes become more distinct. They can make out some some arms, some legs, and finally some entire bodies... the crew came back from Beyond! Slowly, the Trireme moves and fends the waters of the High Lake. Soon, the heroes think, they would arrive to Laelith, their final destination. They would be able to deliver the Chalice of Life and Death, to Spellhold and thus keep the Maze sealed...

Next Time: The PCs' arrival to Laelith and their dealings with a cheating gambler!


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