Journey to Fate’s doorstep: follow the path

The Drow’s Bane and Lela splash into Catchbreeze, soaking wet against a cold day in the month of Nightal. Their first breath back on land, is an exhale of cold fog in the midday light. Royce suddenly looks over to Lela who is inhaling the air comfortably, and then he relaxes.

The Drow’s Bane have been gone for three weeks in the Elemental Plane of Water. Royce and the others take off their Caps of Water Breathing and begin to call for Petha to bring towels to dry off. Lela rapidly speaks to Royce in Aquan; the cleric casts Tongues so he can understand her. Petha and Joscellan make their way to the party, arms full of towels, and a look of curiosity as to where their masters have come and gone this time. “Welcome home masters, it’s good to see you again, how were your travels?” as she hands out towels then comes upon Lela. “Good day miss, I see the masters have brought with them…a friend?” as she looks toward Royce, Naismith, Nong and Mordrock. “Petha meet Lela, she will be staying here with us. She’s a Water Genasi from the Elemental Plane of Water. Oh, and she speaks Aquan and doesn’t speak Common, just yet, something you can help with?” says Royce. A bit perplexed, Petha responds, “Understood master Royce. I will contact the Guild of Languages to hire a tutor immediately. And is she a guest?”

Naismith jumps into the conversation, “Lela is well skilled in taking care of people and is quite talented in singing and dancing. I’m sure with Djanni now departed, there is an opening for some help? I think in time, Lela would fit in quite well,” as he smiles at Petha. Petha looks at Naismith, gives him a nod of hesitant confirmation, then focuses her attention back on helping the party dry off.

The Drow’s Bane spend a few days at Catchbreeze to discuss their plans to return to the Elemental Plane of Water. They all confirm recalling a similar vision implanted into their minds about where to go next. “I think we should plane shift to the Citadel of 10,000 Pearls,” says Mordrock and continues, “from there we can swim south into the Darkened Depths again but this time farther to the East to locate the giant cave in the vision” Royce responds, “I’ll get us close to the Citadel but not inside. Seeing it is the center of bureaucracy for that plane, I don’t want to be trapped among throws of tourists and patrols.” They continue discussion and agree to depart the following day.

The next morning they head down to the Dock Ward to visit Nong; Royce, Naismith and Mordrock decide to plane shift from his boat instead of Catchbreeze. Nong’s boat is in harbor, as the others approach, they hear familiar angry shouts about spoiled supplies and tainted liquids; there’s even a small fight breaking out near them. Nong, standing on his boat, enjoys the scene unfolding as he sees his comrades approach. “You came to visit me?” says Nong. Royce replies, “Yes, and we will plane shift from your boat in the harbor.” “By the way, this is unnecessary drama Nong, let’s get moving!” as he points to the squabbles behind them. As Nong’s boat moves away from the dock, a small furry creature rubs against Royce’s leg; he looks down to see Samantha, and instantly can tell she’s not quite right. “Nong what the hell is this? An undead two-headed cat? Why?” exclaims Royce. Nong keeps rowing, paying no attention to Royce, then says, “it was a gift from the dwarf. Go piss on his day instead of mine.”

There is an uncomfortable silence in the air as Mordrock reaches down and scoops up Samantha. “She’s mine and it’s a long story Royce. In fact, Nong, let me take her back to my place for the time being.” Nong nods and turns the boat around and heads back to the dock. Royce still shocked by this horror, keeps muttering under his breath, “You’re a cleric of Kelemvor! You’re a cleric of Kelemvor!” Naismith, standing on the opposite side of the boat, sighs, shakes his head and turns away from the group, flipping his coin as he stares out over the harbor.

An hour later, the party appears near the Citadel of 10,000 Pearls in the Elemental Plane of Water. They take a moment to adjust their caps, and let their bodies acclimate again to being fully submerged in water. The beautiful Citadel is glowing from the thousands of orbs that give it an appearance, it is covered with shiny white pearls. Today looks busy as a stream of crowds line up outside the citadel along with caravans moving to and from it. Out of the corner of Nong’s eye, he catches a bright flash of light two hundred fifty feet southeast of their location. He turns to look in that direction and can make out movement around a shape fixed in the water; he sees another flash then says, “Look there. There’s something going on over there. I’ve seen two flashes of light already.” The others glance in that direction. Naismith sees many figures moving around the fixed shape, some bipedal while others appear fish-like. “Something is definitely going on over there, maybe a fight. We should take a closer look just to see,” says Naismith. Nong turns and begins swimming in that direction as Naismith is right behind; Royce and Mordrock, who swim a lot slower, follow way behind.

Nong approaches within one hundred fifty feet and sees a caravan being attacked by four huge sharks and six Sahuagin. The water is cloudy and red, half eaten bodies of sea elves float around the caravan. A figure in a fighting position is near the caravan fending off the beasts. Nong recognizes the figure to be Talina Tanglestrand, who is trying to protect the caravan. He smiles and whispers to himself, “looks like Royce’s girlfriend could use some help,” as he quietly swims up to the nearest Sahuagin and attacks it from behind.

Naismith and Nong are first to engage and are able to pull the attention of the sharks and Sahuagin away from the caravan toward themselves; however this comes at a cost for Naismith, who is devoured multiple times from the four huge sharks. Nong catches Talina casting a familiar spell at one of the sharks where it instantly disintegrates before them; “I like her already,” he says to himself. By the time Royce and Mordrock catch up, the fight has tipped in favor of the Drow’s Bane and Talina. Moments later, the surviving Sahuagin and shark flee.

The party approaches Talina and the caravan; they can see the two worm mounts have been bitten and a sea-elf is badly injured. “Thank you. I could not have asked for better timing. We were attacked by a Sahuagin hunting party and they were a bit tough on us,” says Talina. Royce, who is delighted to see Talina again replies, “It is so good to see you again. What are you doing out here?” Mordrock, Nong and Naismith slowly shift backward, grinning and looking at each other. Talina smiles as Royce approaches and says, “I was protecting this caravan on its journey to the Citadel of 10,000 Pearls. That is what we Tritons do Royce, protect inhabitants of this plane.” Behind her, the wounded sea elf, Artoz, is coughing up blood. “This is not good,” says Talina as she turns to help Artoz. Mordrock swims up to the wounded sea elf and gives him a big dose of healing. Talina smiles in relief, “Thank you…uh, Mordrock for saving his life.”

She turns to Royce again, “Did you find what you were looking for?” “Not directly but we now have a path to the location,” as he pulls out the map and shows her. She reviews the map and responds, “it sounds like you are heading into the Fathomless Caves. That’s what lies below the citadel. Have you been before?” “No we haven’t but we have a route in our minds,” says Nong. “I have been there a few times. It is a large black rock shelf that is littered with caves. Do you know which cave you are looking for?” asks Talina. “Not really. We have an idea but once we see the particular cave, we will know it’s the one to enter,” replies Naismith. Talina turns to Royce, “I could help you on your journey, if you would like? First, help me escort this caravan and then I can join you.” Royce immediately responds, “We would love that Talina! But first, let us help you get this caravan to the citadel,” as he nods to the others. Mordrock, Nong and Naismith stare back at him and slowly nod.

Two hours later they head south on the two sea worms that served as Artoz’s mounts; a gift of thanks for saving his life, his family’s life and the caravan. Royce names his mount ‘Wormy’ and travels alongside Talina, who is leading the way. Mordrock and Naismith ride on ‘Spaghetteos’ and Nong follows behind. The travel is somewhat familiar in terms of the farther south they travel the darker it becomes. The first night’s rest consists of a large temple to Tempus where everyone sleeps, except for Nong who inhabits Daern’s Instant Fortress, three hundred feet away.

Over dinner, Talina learns about Mordrock’s legendary encounter with Tiamat, banishing the queen of evil dragons back to Avernus from the material plane. Talina is awestruck by the story as she listens intently. Royce and Naismith then share with her their journey into the Underdark and they’re legendary encounter with Demogorgon.

As the party settles in for a night’s sleep, Talina moves further away from the party to sleep by herself; she faces away from them as she prepares to sleep; except she is not sleepy. Instead, she decides to have some fun and casts Message: “So…I can’t sleep, I’m still inspired by your brave stories. Tell me another? Like what did you encounter with Crazy Oman?” Royce hears Talina’s voice in his head and looks over to see her on her side, facing away from the group; he laughs to himself and then whispers, “Well…we traveled to the Trench of Death with Crazy Oman….”

Naismith, who is keeping watch for awhile, can’t recall the last time Royce talked in his sleep; he glances over at Royce, who appears to not only be mumbling but laughing as well.

Several days more into this journey and the party sees the top of the Fathomless Caves in the distance; as they travel closer they notice a shipwreck lying on the black rock shelf five hundred feet away. They swim toward the shipwreck; fifty feet above it the sea worms buck and rise up as if startled by something unseen. Talina quickly grabs both worms and speaks to them softly which eases their tension. She looks at the party, “You go on and explore the shipwreck, I’ll be here with the sea worms. Something feels strange to me as if we are in the presence of something large.” The Drow’s Bane swim towards the shipwreck and notice it has several large holes in its side, they decide to swim in.

Inside feels a lot colder than outside. Royce motions to swim further inward, “The next level down, is where the crew and captain’s quarters should be, if we want to look around.” They swim into a room that might have once been someone’s quarters; several pieces of broken bits of furniture still exist. Mordrock blinks and swears he saw something move past them in the hallway outside of the quarters. He casts a spell and immediately senses undead all over this place, “This place is crawling with undead, we should leave quickly!” as Mordrock begins to exit. He crosses into the hallway where he feels an immense feeling of cold pass through him, taking his breath away for a moment. “Ghosts!” he thinks to himself as he picks up the pace and swims toward Talina.

Naismith and Royce find a loose board in the wall and pull it away to find a metal box inside. Royce pulls out the metal box and finds a ghostly face staring back at him from the now empty space. He gasps as the ghostly face reaches through the hole, opens her mouth and wails uncontrollably. The terrifying sound pierces into Royce, Naismith, Nong and Mordrock; Naismith is so overwhelmed by the sound, he falls unconscious. Nong grabs Naismith and makes their way out of the room, followed by Royce.

As if responding to the banshee’s wail, the ground beneath the shipwreck begins to tremble. Pieces of the ship fall in toward the party as they desperately search for a way out. Outside, Talina and Mordrock see a large formation in front of them coalesce from the surrounding water. The water churns and churns and they realize the churning is forming into a gigantic draconic face whose mouth opens wide and unleashes upon them.