The ruins were the remains of a vast temple complex. The structure had been flooded at some point in the distant past, and looked centuries old. Somewhere within, the lost crew of The Scarlet had wandered off. As the party wandered through the darkness, they were beset by visions and memories. This ruin wasn’t as abandoned as it seemed.
The sound of sobbing drew the heroes down a hallway. In an alcove sat a sobbing elf girl, with visible gill slits. As the party approached the strange child, she abrupty degenerated into one of the strange aquatic creatures that had bedeviled them. Before their startled eyes, the creature vanished. Befuddled, the party continued on, and abruptly found themselves being sacrificed by a degenerate elf woman they knew to be High Priestess Megada. They saw the priestess begin to change before life left their bodies and they apruptly found themselves still in the empty hallway, unharmed. Who was High Priestess Megada, and why did they all know her? Strange. More visions appeared as they trudged through the halls. One of the parasites, born from the corpse of a mermaid that wasn’t there. A mural showing a seaside elf city before it crumbled into ruin and bloodshed. Sharks that swam through air. When the party entered a ruined shrine, they found themselves stabbing a priestess of Melora to death atop her sacred altar. The grisly deed completed, they felt the ground begin to shake before the vision faded again. An illusory tidal wave threatened to sweep them down a hall. Now the party found themselves atop a ziggurat in darkness, and peacefully let themselves be sacrificed to sate Sekolah’s endless hunger. Who? Now the hallway dissolved around them, and they found themselves in a sunlit plaza. High Priestess Megada, still a beautiful elvish woman, was entreating them to abandon Melora and take up the worship of Sekolah. Finally, in the last room, the party found a number of the degenerate fish-elves rifling through piles of cast-off junk. The party hurled themselves into combat, and the creatures disappeared again. The junk was real enough, however. It was mostly the valueless possessions of townsfolk; changepurses, papers, fishing and potters’ equipment, and one spellbook, bearing the mark of the Arcane Academy and belonging to one Quintus Meridius. Ominous. At the end of the labyrinth of visions, the party found stairs leading upward, and one very conspicuous kobold handprint in a smear of pitch.
The party ascended, finding dry but deserted upper halls, and sporadic smears of pitch that eventually led them to a starcase down to the water level. Their trail dead-ended at a featureless room ringed with runic circles. Inside one of them was an elvish man, hanging in midair and covered with dozens of superficial cuts. Zed roped him and dragged him from the stasis field, only discover that the wounded figure was none other than the missing Quintus Meridius! Before he could regain his senses, an elvish woman appeared that the party recalled from the visions to be the High Priestess Megada. She directed the party to come with her and seemed put out when they refused. Abruptly, she disappeared, telling the party they’d be sacrificed one way or another. The room filled with more of the parasites, and, somewhat anomalously, the party felt water begin to pool around their ankles.
The party fought the parasites, feeling jabs from unseen attackers, and the invisible water continuing to rise. Krisella was the first to make the discovery; these parasites were summoned distractions, and dissolved into mist. From somewhere, Megada taunted the party, mocking them for falling to her enchanted idol, just as the townsfolk had before them, and declaring them powerless in the face of her ancient sorcery. On the floor, Quintus choked, gurgled, and finally rose to his knees, and, hatred in his voice, dispelled the illusions that held the party in sway.
The bare room was banished. The party was on a lengthy walkway leading to a ziggurat, atop which stood the missing crew of The Scarlet. The room was swiftly filling with water, and ominous shark fins cut through the rising tide. Between the heroes and the obscene ritual taking place above, and handful more of the fish-elves stood revealed, tossing spears down at the adventurers.
Quintus explained as best he could. His research into the artifact was interrupted when the strange “Call” began. He had been affected, but like the party, had the force of will to resist its stronger effects. He’d tried to save the townsfolk, but had been captured, and had spent the last two weeks in captivity, being ritualistically bled for his defiance. Now though, the mad priestess had to be stopped. Visok opened by vaulting up the side of the ziggurat, looking to take the fight right to Megada. The priestess had a contingency ready, and mighty Visok found himself trapped by more stasis runes. The goliath fought through the magic, but found himself out of the fight.
Back below, Krisella ignited their attackers, paving the way for Zed to help the weakened Quintus through the swiftly rising waters. The two battled bravely, fending off the spears of Sekolah’s faithful and the sharks that gnawed at them. The battle wore on, but Krisella’s daggers found their mark, and Zed snapped the last fishy neck with bone-cracking force. The two clambered up the ziggurat, wounded wizard in tow, and found themselves face to face with the once-elvish priestess.
She interrupted the ghastly ceremony she was preparing to threaten them. “What have you accomplished?” she sneered. “You’ll drown here, and all your efforts will be for nothing. Sekolah has won!” And she might have been right, too, were it not for a wily kobold, who chose that moment to contribute. From somewhere in the crowd of ensorcelled sailors, Scoop leaped onto the priestess’s back, and smeared a streak of pitch across her eyes. The priestess’s wild thrashing sent him hurtling to the base of the tower, but his timely distraction broke her concentration, and the rising waters halted, the stasis runes fell dormant, and her carefully maintained illusion dropped.
High Priestess Megada stood revealed. A towering mass of scales and jagged teeth, with a phosphorescent lure dangling over pale, bulging eyes. She roared in defiance, and prepared to attack.
Her first indication that her plans had done awry was a sudden burst of heat and light to her immediate right.
Her second, moments later, was an incandescent hammer blow from Visok that hit her brow with the force of an avalanche.
While the priestess was still recoiling from the shock, Zed had circled around her, and intercepted her chin with a mighty ki strike that sent her reeling backward.
…into Krisella‘s waiting grasp. The rogue traced a line in blood across the priestess’s eyes. Blinded and snarling, the priestess called upon dark magic, and began draining the water from the heroes’ bodies, in between wild swings with her trident. The adventurers didn’t let up in their onslaught, and soon, the priestess was forced into a hasty retreat below the shark infested water.
The heroes readied themselves, but a storm cloud coalesced in the center of the room. Thunder rumbled and lightning flashed, and the party started looking for cover, but Quintus came to the rescue, pulling himself together long enough to magically dispel Megada’s magic. She leapt from the water, throttling the wizard, and was greeted with a hail of projectiles from the heroes, who surrounded her once more. Blades, hammers, and fists struck again and again, and the bloodied priestess withdrew to the water once more.
The waters beneath the bewitched crew began to glow. High Priestess Megada emerged from the water (to another hail of projectiles) and threatened the party that their crew would die regardless, and they’d failed. Struggling to his knees, Quintus utilized one last burst of magic to snare the crew. He begged the heroes to finish the battle.
Visok obliged. He charged the priestess and caught her beneath the ribs with such force that her broken body was launched into the water. Through broken teeth, she continued to taunt the party that she was undefeatable as the chosen of Sekolah. Her tone shifted abruptly as Sekolah’s sacred sharks tore her to shreds. The feeding frenzy soon passed, and with it, the waters withdrew, and the crew slowly came to their senses.
The unnatural music that had plagued them all vanished. It had been a hard-fought battle, and the weary and determined heroes helped the sailors back to The Scarlet. Leaving the haunting Sunken Isles behind them, they sailed towards a more welcoming tomorrow.