Distant Horizons

Beneath the Darkened Waves

Dreaming Despair on the Ocean Floor

From the Journals of Beriana Elorelen:

The Island of Verina was roughly three weeks behind us. It had been a pleasant journey, with none of the storms that had punctuated the earlier portion of our expedition. After the hurricane surrounding Verina, this was more of a blessing than most might realize. Those Heroes who had aided us so much his far kept themselves busy with a variety of minor projects. The something special that I had noticed after their time on the Island did not fade. Everyone who dealt with them spoke with a little more awe and deference. Even the captain treated them as honored guests more than simple passengers.

The mist was the first real problem that arose. The captain ordered the sails reefed to slow the ship, and lookouts to the bow. The mist had a muffling effect on the sounds of the ship and waves, and added a surreal quality to everything. A sense of disconnection from the rest of the world and of impending danger. It turns out we should have heeded that sense. There was a tingling sensation, almost an itch, and then…nothing. Talars’argt and Tolfgar spoke later of shrugging off the initial attack and of the ship being boarded by undersea creatures, but even they succumbed in short order.

We awoke, most of us, in an underwater cavern. The panic was palpable as the fear of drowning hit, but something about the murky water allowed us to breathe. That initial fear subsiding, I looked about us. A little more than half the crew, including the captain, was with us, as were most of the other passengers. Zazumet, Tolfgar, and Talars’argt were there as well. The cavern also held a variety of undersea peoples….a few merfolk and tritons, as well as a larger contingent of what had to be aquatic elves. All of them looked to be wounded in various ways, and had the air of long-term captivity and abuse about them. Putting my intense curiosity aside, with admitted difficulty, I moved over to do what I could for them.

Talars’argt, as soon as he woke and realized that Quarsith was not with us, wasted no time in attacking our captors. Unarmed and unarmored, he was still more than a match for them. Zazumet quickly summoned some water Elementals to aid him, and Tolfgar provided more inspiration as he urged the rest of us to rise up as well. The captain led his crew towards the caverns other entrance and attacked the creatures there, with the rest of us following in their wake.

The creatures, which we learned later were called Grindylow, were disconcerting in appearance. From the waist up they were similar to goblins, while their lower bodies were a mass of tentacles like those of an octopus. They were vicious and well-adapted to the water, but small, and we overwhelmed them with numbers while the three Heroes dealt with those at the other entrance and moved on.

I learned later that Quarsith, Zane, Daziel, and the missing passengers and crew had been rescued by the Altriaesti. They enlisted the aid of two warriors among the passengers, gained magical assistance from their rescuers so they could breathe, and came to find us. So, while we staged our jailbreak, they assailed the cavern complex’s entrance and began fighting their way toward us. It is my firm belief that the six Heroes, even separated, were more than a match for the Grindylow without whatever small aid our mob might have given. Though the fight was long, the Grindylow were defeated handily. Those few that survived fled the caverns in disarray. We had relatively few true losses, thanks largely in part to the healing magics provided by the ship’s doctor and myself.

Reunited, and with their gear recovered, the Heroes moved to the large central cavern. Talars’argt had spoken of a great despair emanating from the chamber, and the Altriaesti had spoken of a great evil in this place that they were tasked with guarding. Zane and Quarsith approached the huge boulder in the cavern’s center, and both were assailed by images of a timeless horror…of a world filled with death and devastation…and of a nearly overwhelming desire to help loose that horror upon the world. Both were able to resist that desire, thankfully. Daziel spoke to the stones around the cavern edge, which told him of a time before time and of a stone from the stars crashing into the waves to wait with inhuman patience. Of an alien hunger that yearned to be free, and of the rise and fall of innumerable cults to that hunger.

Determining to find out more, but recognizing an inability to do more at the moment, the Heroes led us out of that place. Quarsith left a token to Damion and Verina there to mark it, and perhaps in the hope of bringing the threat to divine attention. We returned to the Altriaesti outpost, and the Heroes spoke with the outpost’s commander, Arthrawes, who vowed to get them in touch with his people’s leaders. Grateful for the assistance,cans the return of his captured people, Arthrawes aided us in returning to our ship and we resumed our voyage.

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