Chronicles of Khaldun: Crux of Eternity

Revenge of the Giants, Part 15

Earthday, Patchwall 6, 552 CY (50 AN)

As Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, Peren, Torinn, and Valna wrap up their game of rat-snake, two figures enter the Drunken Dugong. The first is a humanoid insect, some manner of roach-man. He wears a coat, apparently somewhat uncomfortably, and has four scimitars and two shields strapped to his back, as well as four matchlock pistols shoved into his belt. His associate is a strange, pale-skinned, stunted humanoid carrying a very large pack on his back. He acts very deferential. The others in the tavern clearly find the presence of the pair somewhat off-putting, but recognize them and give greeting.

Bosabrieln decides he needs to go over and speak to them.

The roach-man introduces himself as Geverspike, and his associate as 254. He explains he is a Blattarian from the Walfismeer, far to the southwest. His kind are often unpleasant, frequently acting as pirates and slavers, although he appears to discuss the matter with some amount of distaste. His associate, 254, is a Vassal. Their kind are vat-bred by sorcerers to act as slaves. 254 still acts as a slave even though he is paid for his employ, but it is his way and Geverspike does not besmirch him for it. He indicates that they have been sailing, trying to fish treasure out of the seas in this region and conduct trade. He offers to journey with the Shields of the Sorrowfell if they wish it; he charges a half-share (about 8.3%) for himself and 254, although he’ll probably mostly stick to ranged combat. After some deliberation, the Shields agree.

They spend the rest of the evening enjoying Flotsam’s hospitality before retiring. After talking to Kaseem throughout the day, and making certain to obtain his piece of the divine engine, Bosabrieln retires with the djinn for the evening.

The following day, Freeday, Patchwall 7, the Shields breakfast and prepare to set out for the Frost Spire. They know that they will find frost giants and potentially other cold weather beasts, and they know that the isle of Frost Spire is, according to legend, formed from the shaft of a spear impaling a Primordial. Kaseem leads them to the Percheron, his raft of ice — magically warm to the touch and bearing a tent in which they can take refuge — and sets sail.

The slightly turbulent skies over Flotsam quickly give way to fog and intense squalls, signaling the transition to the Elemental Chaos and the Sea of Howling Souls. As per its name, the Shields experience a group of blowing clouds in the shape of screaming human faces. Oddly, the face of Demise is visible among them, howling and glaring at the Shields in an accusatory manner.

The voyage continues until several of the Shields hear the quiet flap of wings. They prepare themselves as two enormous birds of prey — they identify them as rocs, as they are unfortunately well-acquainted with the large birds — swoop out of the fog. Geverspike immediately peppers one with gunfire as Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, and Valna prepare spells. Torinn breathes his lightning breath at one of the beasts as Bezaldooz and Bosabrieln use their magics to push it into the water. Peren casts water walk on most of the assembled party before he leaps off the boat and grabs onto one of the other rocs, stabbing it with his swords. The roc begins ascending, clawing and pecking at Peren in a desperate attempt to dislodge him. After being pelted with spells and attacked by a summoned Guardian of Pelor, the drowning roc manages to escape the frigid water and fly away. The others gathered on the ship prepare to assist Peren when he returns. Kaseem moves the ship near Peren’s last-known position. After a pregnant pause, they hear shouts suddenly growing closer. Geverspike peppers the plummeting roc with gunfire while Bezaldooz casts feather fall upon it, causing it to float to the surface of the water and briefly stand before the lifeless corpse sinks beneath the waves. Peren casually steps off onto the waves and scurries back onto the boat.

Despite the violent seas, the rest of the day is uneventful.

The following day, Starday, Patchwall 8, the Percheron is slammed by a tidal wave that threatens to tip the boat, although most of the passengers manage to recover; Valna is only slightly injured. Shortly thereafter, a large shape is visible in the water, following the boat. Everyone prepares, and as it approaches, it splits and the two smaller shapes attempt to flank the boat. It swiftly becomes apparent that they are two schools of piscine humanoids, which Bosabrieln is able to recognize as kuo-toa — mad fishmen believing so fanatically in gods of their own design that they appear to actually create them in some strange manner of ritualized solipsism. Strangely, these kuo-toa are colored blue with white markings, indicating that they have been treated by some ritual to withstand the cold. They are led by some manner of robed figure, dressed ornately in the manner of a high-ranking clergyman. The group focuses on him although Valna and Bezaldooz decimate the two groups with fiery spells, boiling away the top layer of the sea and leaving several dead kuo-toa in their wake. It takes little effort to slay the remaining kuo-toa, and as the last utters vile syllables in Deep Speech to declare a retreat and order the others to protect “the dagger” — evidently unaware that his associates have been slain — the Shields knock him out.

Hoping to find the dagger, the Shields tie a rope around Peren’s waist and he dives into the water searching for the kuo-toa high priest. He follows the blood trail into the depths until he has to abandon the rope, but he finds the priest. He pulls a coral dagger and a pouch of fifty gold coins off the priest, then grabs the priest’s body and hauls him back up.

The dagger bears a hilt that looks like some strange combination of centipede and squid, and when Peren holds it or carries it, he hears this odd, cacophonous piping that intrudes on the edges of his consciousness.

When Peren returns and delivers the dead kuo-toa priest, the others search him and find nothing. (Peren does not volunteer that he found anything.) They tie the sole surviving (and now unconscious) kuo-toa to one of the masts and awaken him to interrogate him. Apparently only speaking in Deep Speech, Bosabrieln questions him while Geverspike holds guns on him and tries to look intimidating. The kuo-toa reveals that the dagger of devouring is a holy relic, and it will be returned to their master, Oogloogoth, the Thought That Waits. Bosabrieln recognizes the name of an aboleth known to be active in the Sorrowfell Plains; according to the tales, it lairs somewhere in the Underdark beneath Scandshar.

Peren, also able to understand Deep Speech, punctuates the kuo-toa’s ravings by stabbing the dagger into the mast near his head, indicating that it will not be returned to his master. He then kicks the priest’s body overboard. The surviving kuo-toa continues to rave about how they will all be destroyed before they finally determine they will learn no more from him and so they execute him.

Bezaldooz takes about an hour to study the dagger, and determines that the dagger of devouring requires an invocation to Holashner, The Hunger Below, to activate. When activated, it will cause any human within fifteen feet to fall to grotesque corruption and perish as the dagger similarly disintegrates. He also suspects it is worth a large sum of money to the right buyer. The Shields debate what to do with the dagger — Bezaldooz and Peren believe it should be kept, with Peren arguing that it could easily be used to slay the elementalist if they encounter him again, while Bosabrieln, Torinn, and Valna believe the fell thing should be destroyed. Geverspike agrees.

The others move to the stern of the Percheron while Bezaldooz prepares to activate the dagger. All are ready in case it summons something horrific. When he utters the chant, the dagger exudes a wave of enervation before it collapses into a stinking, black, viscous substance that quickly burns and evaporates, leaving an ugly smell behind.

The rest of the day passes without significant incident, and the Shields sleep before awakening again on Sunday, Patchwall 9.