Fantasy Masks

Adventure 9: Shrine of Nine Omens

A pleasant tour of statues.

Proteaxalan Yushun seems pretty harmless. The Drac loves to fish and to cook, and draws from a profound fund of theological legendry and amusing anecdotes when entertaining his friends. For decades, he has used humor and theological gravitas to keep peace with his Skyva neighbors, teaching the lore of Proteax and keeping the story of the Shrine of Nine Omens alive in the minds of pilgrims and visitors.

He did not deserve to be badly beaten and kicked out of the shrine. His two acolytes did not deserve to be run through and buried in dirt, instead of being returned to the sea. The defenseless shrine is a museum of lore, not a treasurehouse of gold. Why would raiders despoil it?

Yushun explained they had him on his knees at swordpoint, manacles on the way, when Yushun prepared a mighty curse. Had they chained or killed him, the curse would have snapped around them, and they would have been hideously punished by Proteax. However, they sensed their danger, and released him to crawl away. He spent several hours in the healing salt of the ocean, then met inbound pilgrims, who brought him to Fegheran. There, he met with the group’s contact, to beg for help.

A slaver cult worshiping Ketcheya, God of Chains, gruesome favored son of Khorus, evicted the Proteaxles. They did not see a shrine; they saw a defensible surface structure and a roomy underground complex to protect their unsavory trade.

Led by a Skyva, Captor Chumrian, a force of slavers are prepared to ply their wicked trade. They will likely target students of the Furliath Tower, fledgeling wizards. Chumrian allied with a clan of Kudjell Deep Slavers, mercenaries from a brute tribe (“the Chaindancers,” led by Chief Wekru.) Chumrian is a fat man with handlebar mustaches and a shaved head. He rules through verbal and physical brutality, generously handing out whippings from his spiked chain to those who displease him.

The eviction crew could go in the front door; the shrine’s north-facing side has no wall, so the ocean is always in view. The back of the shrine has the stairs leading down into the dark. Yushun suggests an alternative, providing a map to get to a sea cave, only accessible at low tide. If they follow a worming corridor back, behind the altar at the very end is a secret entrance, flanking the slavers. They probably don’t know about that entrance.

Yushun could protest to the Proteax cult, but he would surely be replaced, and he likes his posting. He’d rather deal with this on his own resources. His life savings is 50 sina, and he offers it to the adventurers for their eviction work. Also, anything they get from the slavers is theirs tax free, owing nothing to Proteax. He’s hopeful that’s enough; money is not the main reason to undertake this mission.

No, the most compelling reason to do this is to smash the hell out of slavers…

*

Prothres 12, 1231

They met in the upper room of the Three Pointer, a seedy tavern in the small harbor town of Gisselex. Charlie had the job, the map, and the contacts. Timothy was a local holy man of Alorn who was ready to lend a hand when he heard slavers were the target, despoiling a holy place. He knew of Euclid and Tempest in town, following a lead with a scholar regarding a mysterious lost city, so he invited them.

Hirsch and Quinn had been on caravan duty; Hirsch just could not seem to get along with the other guilders, so they’d been pulling crap jobs for a couple months. They stopped over in this town, and decided this job would be better than the last leg of the caravan. Finally, Guntham was a surly engineer who was interested in seeing more of the world and possibly shooting some of it with his pistol.

Charlie explained that they would be rewarded with the life savings of the Proteaxle who ran the shrine, and they would get any loot duty-free (as far as Proteax and local salvage tax goes.)

They headed out, trudging an hour and a half across the frozen landscape. They flanked the shrine and huddled in the shelter of a boulder to rest before undertaking their mission. Hirsch and Charlie scouted, seeing a mass of dozens of bipedal lizards hunched against the cold, gathered around the shrine. Mounts for brutes! Maybe the front door would not be the best option.

The tide receded far enough, and they leaped down into the knee-deep frigid water. Sloshing some distance into the cave, they pulled themselves out, shivering, to find an old smuggler’s cave. Continuing back through the tunnel, they found a chamber with writing on the wall and stairs leading down to a corridor that led deeper into the stone.

Several of the invaders knew Dracoris, and could read the text that was a thousand years old. They stood in the “Birthrun of Contemplation” that shared the history behind the shrine, the name of the dwarven sculptor Kellis Uracht (who spent 250 years of his life crafting the 9 statues of the omens in gratitude for Proteaxle help in the war of revolution), and a number of meditative prayers to recite in traveling the Birthrun.

They reverently undertook the 300 meter corridor, and as they approached the end, they noted a small cave off to one side, with a nasty algae pool. Those who had been in Atarin’s Delve realized they knew that smell—giant crab. They quietly passed by, not bothering the pool.

They found an altar with a precious sapphire embedded in it, and a massive sculpture of a leaping sailfish behind the altar. Examining the altar, they saw it was a focus for fate, to make sacrifices or prayers and change luck and the future. They also found the sailfish statue was mounted on a pivot. Triggering it, they found themselves in a finished stone corridor.

Someone was coming! Charlie leaped out, attacking, backed up by others. They pounced on the servants and swiftly murdered three of them as the rest of the party secured the opposite door. A quick search revealed servant quarters, so they blew through the other door and found a store room of supplies, and the surviving servants desperate to live when confronted with red-handed despoilers.

Questioning them, Tempest got a sense of the layout of the complex, and the forces they faced. Fentell was a very helpful servant, not interested in the health and well being of his cruel masters.

Continuing on, the invaders burst out of a doorway into a large sanctuary. Taking the guards totally by surprise, they hewed three down before the others realized their danger. Two ran for reinforcements, one for cover, and the third tried to take a slave hostage, only to sprout a most unfortunate decorative shaft from his face as Euclid fired his longbow, and a mastercraft throwing axe from his torso as Guntham made a counter-offer.

Twenty slaves were chained in the sanctuary; a party of pilgrims the slavers detained. The invaders went to work as the alarm was raised through the underground complex; in a minute, the slaves were freed, Charlie followed one fleeing slaver back to the dead end and subdued him by her self, grimly chaining him to a bench in a room that appeared to be for spellcasting slaves (complete with prisoner leeches.)

Tempest and Landru took up positions between the magnificent statues of a whale and a kraken, two more omens. The altar in the sanctuary was cold wet sea-stone. They also picked the lock to a treasure room, finding the Skyva war chest.

The brute leader, Chief Wekru, demanded their surrender and then perished, shot in the head; Guntham notified the invaders that he brought a gun as he fired it from behind them, startling them and blowing away a brute at close range.

A couple rushes were repulsed, the flashing steel and sturdy shields of the invaders shoving the brutes back as a withering fire of supernaturally accurate longbow arrows hissed between them, and Guntham’s gleeful and murderous support spilled yet more blood. A lull in the attacks meant they dragged the bodies in to recover arrows, and for Quinn to finish off the wounded and pile them like firewood.

Pressing the advantage, they secured another choke point as the rest of the group searched where the servant told them they’d find a secret entrance to where the leaders of the Skyva quartered.

Euclid turned it up, and they confronted a mass of humans waiting inside. After a short, blood exchange, the humans retreated behind another door; cautious, the invaders pulled back, resolving to continue on and leave them behind.

Hearing the approach of deep hounds, the party withdrew back to the sanctuary. The slavers sent Deep Hounds at them, who proved less impressive than the party feared; Guntham’s shot and Hirsch’s blood-starved axe hewed them down with a single blow each. Chopping down some more of the hounds, they prepared to resume the attack, when the secret door opened.

Captor Chumrian swaggered out to confront them, confident in his magic defenses. They were not enough to stop the exquisitely lethal aim of Euclid and Guntham; an arrow through the head and gunshot to the gut knocked him back into the secret door, which closed behind his corpse. Furious, his consort, Lashess Makra, confronted them in a storm of chains and fury.

Ranged attacks whirled through her maelstrom of chains, then Timothy and Hirsch charged in and hewed her down with mighty blows, ending the leadership of the human slavers for good.

Taking Chief Wekru’s fancy helmet, they cast Light on it and threw it ahead, to give them some warning; the Deep Slavers took to sniping at them from the darkness, puncturing Landru with a poisoned bolt.

Emboldened by success, and deeply engaged in wiping out raiders preying on civilization, Euclid prayed for a blessing. Miraculously, the light from the hat took on a sea-dappled appearance, and the whole place felt underwater; a shadow passed overhead. It was rather alarming.

As the vision faded, the opposition seemed to have pulled back. The invaders entered the human quarters and pursued the terrified and belligerent humans. They discovered barracks, and sleeping quarters for the Captor and the Lashess. They also found the serpent statue, and a meeting room. One of the humans surrendered, a number were hewn down, and three made a break for it. Charlie killed one, Hirsch killed the other, and the third wisely surrendered, and was chained where the slaves had been restrained.

Pressing forward, the invaders found a meeting room that was desecrated to be a shrine to Ketcheya. Guntham had brief negotiations with a Kudjell Deep Slaver that was standing out of the sight of the humans, which resulted in Guntham firing on the slaver, knocking him down; well, not every diplomatic session ends in a treaty.

They found the brute headquarters, and as they investigated the room with chamber pots in the back, they found an iron chest with the brute treasure. Charlie defeated the poison needle on the chest, and they added it to their winnings.

Looking ahead, they found a tapestry with an abstracted holy symbol of Proteax curtaining off a chamber with the statues of a shark and a dolphin, and a bridge. Withdrawing, they followed the cave passage.

Down further into the complex, they discovered a steep ragged step/ladder up a cliff to where the Deep Slaver leaders had been staying. The statue of a lobster was quite startling at close quarters.

Then the rest of the deep hounds barreled down on them, baying. The slaughter was quick and complete, and the invaders passed their cooling corpses.

A small shrine room, and inside, the statue of an angler! They continued on and found the corridor emptied into the bottom of the chasm between the front door in and the rest of the complex. Retracing their steps, they crossed the bridge and headed up the winding stairs to the back of the main shrine building above.

The brutes mounted up and cleared out, and the Deep Slavers took their treasure and ran. Now, after dark, it seemed unwise to follow the cunning slavers.

Savoring their victory, they made the slaves and servants comfortable for the night. The next morning, they met the Proteaxle Yushun, who thanked them and took over. Upon finding out he had both three captive slavers and some desecration below, he was most pleased, and he figured by the end of the day he could have it re-sanctified.

The generous invaders declined his offer of his life savings, and they also left the pocket change on the corpses, fondly missing Tory’s stubborn and strong-stomached looting philosophy. The pilgrims offered many blessings on the party before heading back to town to arrange for more guards.Tempest rewarded Fentell with a handful of coins for his trouble.

They split up their take in the Three Pointer, and went their separate ways, satisfied with a job well done and weighted down with a fortune in coin.

Thanks to Kristy for handling the loot tracking and distribution.

Thanks to Dyson Logos for another great map!

Comments

poor Cheif Wekru

Adventure 9: Shrine of Nine Omens
kaprou

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