Tales From Janus Valley

Heed the Call

Wind and Waves

Klasky had indeed come around. The malnourished sod’s fever had broken, and he was not only lucid, but eerily calm. His one request to the party was that they let him go, because he had some urgent business across the sea. The party questioned him and learned several things:

1. The music that the party had playing in their heads was the same as “The Call” that Klasky had been responding to.

2. He had been one of the first to hear it, but the rest of the town joined in.

3. The Call told him to take a boat and sail across the sea. When the boats ran out, it started telling him to light the lighthouse and await pickup.

4. He was nuttier than a squirrel’s pantry.

Against his vehement protestations, the party left Klasky secure in his cell. They crested the bluff to Shoals’ ancient lighthouse. There, Zed saw an ominous sight; The Scarlet had left port and was sailing, not in the direction their itenerary indicated, but towards in the direction of Klasky’s Call. Worse still, the party realized that this left them stranded.

Exploring the lighthouse, the party found that the ruin’s foundations were built on a cave system. Descending through the caves led them to a secluded cove that showed signs of recent foot traffic. The mass of varying footprints indicated that much of the town’s population had come through here recently. Less comforting was the presense of an anomaly; a single clawed, webbed print mixed in with the more mundane ones. A far more welcome sight awaited them; a single twenty-foot runabout was marooned on a clay spit. It was small and damaged, but as soon as the tide shifted enough, the party could get to it and make repairs.

Over Visok‘s protestations, the party set sail that evening, convinced that the mysterious Call was originating from the merman’s Sunken Isles. Alien music running through their heads, the party spent an uneasy night on the tiny craft in open waters, sailing towards an unknown fate. The gray hours of the morning brought a discovery. Merfolk’s kelp fields twisted and blackened by an unknown influence. The party pressed on, finally spotting the remains of a tower jutting out of the sea. More partly-submerged structures emerged from the mist, dark stones hinting at ancient ruins that now surrounded them. Dashiel gave a shout. Staring into the dark waters, the ranger was shocked to see a wide-mouthed face staring back at him. In an instant, the goggle-eyed presence flitted back into the depths. Unnerved, the party used Krisella‘s net to try and snare their observer. Visok lowered the net, and with a sudden jerk, the line went taut. Visok’s mighty muscles strained, and the tiny craft was taken for a whirlwind course through the ancient ruins. They whipped around shattered domes, and fallen spires, slammed against ancient balustrades, and found themselves suddenly adrift when the line went abruptly slack. Visok hauled it back in to find the line neatly sliced. There was a splash off to starboard, and the empty net portion landed on the deck with a splat. Real funny. The unexpected tour of the Sunken Isles had landed the party next to a vast structure, portions of which still seemed to be above water. Zed’s elf eyes spotted a mast peeking out from the mist, and the party sailed into small area jammed up with ships of all sizes.

Among the haphazard collection of ships was The Scarlet. No crewmember was visible on her decks, however, and she’d apparently come in to anchor. The party approached cautiously, but a sickening crack and sudden rush of water from their tiny vessel sent them hurrying to the greater ship. As the party watched, their transport plunged beneath the waves. The Scarlet was indeed deserted, but mooring lines indicated that the crew had gone into a yawning hole in the half-submerged structure. The party was preparing to follow the trail inside when a tremendous impact launched them to their knees as seaspray exploded all around them. When they rose to their feet, an unwelcome sight awaited them. The deck was now swarming with aquatic humanoid creatures. Through wide mouths, the monsters gurgled some strange bastardization of elvish, and goggling eyes fixed on the party. At the behest of one clutching some kind of shark tooth amulet, the beasts attacked.

Krisella, Visok and Dashiel set aim on the lead creature. It landed a vicious hit on Visok when it manifested a spectral set of shark’s jaws that ripped into the goliath’s belly. Krisella stabbed at the monster, but when she tried to maneuver around it, another beast, whose dull stare belied its keen combat senses, raked claws across her back. The lead creature summoned a torrent of crushing water levelled at Visok‘s head, but the runepriest emerged unscathed from the attack and sent his assailant reeling with a hammer blow. Dashiel’s arrows struck true, and the creature slumped dead across the deck. Dashiel had little time to celebrate, however, as he was swiftly mobbed by a horde of the finned creatures. As ribbons of his blood flew through the air, a horrifying transformation took place. Each of the pallid creatures contorted, as if in pain. As one, their eyes turned solid black, and row upon row of vicious shark teeth emerged from their jaws. They launched into combat even more frenzied than before.

Zed had successfully defended his perch in the crows’ nest before jumping down, sending the creature mobbing Dashiel hurtling away like toys. This gave Dashiel the room he needed to finish off his last attacker and send an arrow into the back of Krisella‘s veteran opponent in a flurry of manual dexterity that defied anyone’s ability to track. Zed wrenched the veteran’s head off, and the last of the strange creatures fell dead. The creatures possessed little of value, other than the strange amulet that had been profaned with strange rituals, and the party made ready to pursue the missing crew.

Before them yawned the oppressive darkness of the half-sunk ruin. With the alien music still piping through their heads, they crossed over into the unknown…

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DM_Duende

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