INTO THE AQUARIUM
There are lingering acrid acid smells in the cavern. Aven reports there are six underwater tunnels leading from the chamber. Fraas begins sawing off Galdûr’s claw and presents it to Rand who glows with satisfaction.
Zinn begins to stir as Bork rushes to gag her with an old sock. Not knowing what else to do, Fraas begins whacking her unconscious with the flat side of his dagger, Bork soon thereafter intervenes.
The party searches the cave and finds traces of griffin feathers, as if the baby had been drug into the water. Bork mentions his people’s previous encounters with aboleths, that they hail from great chaos, are arrogant and eternal unless killed. They consider the potential that this beast had been influencing Galdûr and the manticores. Bork hastily fashions a potion of protection from evil and tries it on Zinn. It doesn’t seem to work, so they all take watches.
On third watch, the aboleth reappears and begins a negotiation with Bork, the only Undercommon linguist in the crew. “I will trade you the Griffin for my new thrall.” Bork attacks, revealing and dissipating the creature’s false image illusion. Aven puts his ear to water to listen, but hears nothing but a low omnidirectional hum. With a new day of spells, Fraas is able to dispel Zinn’s enchantment. Zinn pouts for a moment away from group, before explaining how she had heard Babdan’s voice convincing her to attack her fellows.
Fraas uses his arcane eye to see if there is a path through one of the tunnels. After nearly losing track, he finally finds a way through the watery tangles of roots and branches into a larger rectangular room. The room is flooded except for a big mound of dirt, upon which is a fresh trail of blood and feathers that looks like it was drug onto the pile, then off into another direction. Fraas casts water breathing on the group, uses his wand of animal aspect to give everyone otter features, aside from Aven (who swims with ease) and Bork (who drinks a potion of touch of sea). Bork also gives Sentinel, Zinn, Fraas and to himself, a potion of protection from evil. They all hastily descend into the water and toward the rectangular room.
As they enter the room, they hear a loud grinding sound. The tunnel collapses, injuring Fraas and Bork in a flurry of debris, and Gfed is buried under rock near the tunnel exit. Immediately, two large eels and one colossal crawling form move toward the gang. Sentinel quickly flurry of blows one moray eel, who snaps back with two sets of teeth. Bork swims toward Gfed and starts digging him out with whatever implements he can find. Fraas tries to fireball the crawling creature, but it just fizzles into steam. Zinn misses her first strike at an eel, but allows Shah to turn invisible and sneak attack the eel in its eye with his dagger. The crawling creature is close enough in the murk to make out that it is a shipwrecker crab. The crab and an eel fight over an advancing Rand, and the crab easily wins, grasping Rand in its gnarled claw.
Aven joins Bork in digging out Gfed with his crowbar. Rand attacks his grappler. Sentinel charges an eel. Bork bombs the crab and narrowly misses. Fraas shoots a lightning bolt at the crab and in doing so, sizzles a nearby eel to death. Shah surfaces, but the rest only see his feet leave the water and can hear his muted screams. The crab grinds Rand in its claw and then grabs onto Zinn. Aven finally clears Gfed, who is unconscious but still breathing, and swims up to the surface. He sees a barbed net pulling Shah up the nearest wall, which seems to be an illusion. He shoots the net, freeing Shah who tumbles back into the water. Bork bombs the fuck out of the crab, Fraas fireballs it, Zinn strikes with an electric attack. The crab scuttles away toward the dirt pile with Zinn and Rand in tow.
Aven swims over to check on Shah who seems to be poisoned. Sentinel and Bork race underwater toward the crab; Fraas swims slowly behind. Babdan (the sword) heals Zinn, who strikes and blasts the crab with energy. As it makes a desperate last attempt to consume its catch, Rand impales it through its open mouth. They finish off the last eel, while Bork cures Shah of poisoning. Rand give the crab a coup de grâce, and heals everyone. Aven lights up the room with illuminated pebbles. Everyone else surfaces and can smell a stronger, acrid smell. Galdûr’s imprint is on the dirt pile as if this was his bed. There are bloodied drag marks leading off. Aven throws a pebble into the illusory wall, behind which they can now see a ballista with rope launcher. There is also another passage (where the bloody tracks lead) and a mechanical door. Before they move on they spend some time searching the lair finding several gems, some platinum and gold, a pile of mundane weaponry (rusted), a magical leather war saddle that sword Babdan recognizes and is labelled with his name, and leather boots of teleportation with a mithral inlay.
They group up and don their animal aspects once again, making their way along the griffin tracks. Sixty feet down the tunnel under an overhang they can make out dim lights. Aven spots one alarm line, but in notifying the rest of the group, he mistakenly triggers another. Thus, they charge in.
THE LIBRARY OF DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES
They emerge into an old library, half-submerged, with stone bookshelves and many many skum awaiting their charge. Aven starts the battle by shooting off the heads of couple. The rest of the adventurers take their turn in kind easily picking off much of the skum horde. Fraas is the only one who sustains an injury, a flung trident striking his hip. They hear a chanting, and an aboleth, this one wearing an armored skin, emerges in the room, floating above the stacks. It quickly enchants Fraas who impulsively feels that all the knowledge he seeks is here in this room and there are merely seven who stand in his way. Rand and Sentinel catch sight of Fraas’s intent and quickly incapacitate him into unconsciousness. Sentinel jumps up to the aboleth. Bork firebombs and frostbombs. Zinn lightning bolts it. More skums attack with javelins and tridents. Bork suddenly hears a dwarf’s voice compelling him to attack his friends. Rand wastes no time and rushes forward smiting the aboleth with his javelin, running it through. Its carapace turns to ooze. The rest of skum are in quick succession dealt blows of death.
Bork seems back to normal, and Rand awakes Fraas and heals him. The room is adorned with a large runic inscription, “Here lie the records of dreams and nightmares.” In the few not entirely molded through books are names assigned to strings of words; Fraas transcribes all he can find into his notebook. There a two plain-to-see doors in the room, one of which is where the bloodied griffin tracks lead. There are also two hidden doors, one mechanically hidden, the other with a faint conjuration aura of grease.
They continue on the path toward the griffin tracks down another 60 foot path that curves to the left. It is ribbed with wooden arches, there is a slight cool breeze and sounds of “drip drip”. The low hum that Aven heard earlier gets much louder as they proceed. After a hundred or so more feet, it opens into a large oval room. In the center is a lake, with mossy island, and daylight shining down. There is a boat with oars, and wedged into the mossy mound is a two-handed axe. Fearless of the premonition in Zinn’s storybook, Bork dunks his head into the water and sees that the island is merely the top of a gargantuan turtle, fast asleep, with symbols carved into its shell. Aven tries to recall any historical mention of magical turtles, but can only remember a turtle he once saw in the circus that could perform mathematical tricks. Bork dons the boots of teleportation. Aven swims to the mossy edge of the island. Rand, Bork and Zinn row forward and step onto the island. The axe is good and magical, and of dwarven craft. Those still on shore, shift to the side of the chamber along the walkable sandy strip, to be opposite the turtle’s head in case it wakes up angry. As they move further in, Sentinel hears a faint musical song, quiet, discordant, from the bridged area across the stream of water exiting the room.
Zinn lifts the axe and the humming stops. The top of the turtle’s head crests the water. Gfed casts speak with animals, “we are all friends”. The turtle begins to respond, but speaks extreeeeemely slow. He manages to finish “are you all friends?” right before Gfed’s spell wears off. He gazes at them with a peaceful resting look as his head lowers. The humming doesn’t resume, and it becomes clear that the sound was one of nagging pain. Sword-bound Babdan says, “that’s MY axe” and confusedly “I’ve never been in this place before.” Zinn hands the +2 holy great axe to Rand, who is not privy to Babdan’s further complaints about the exchange.
THE ABOLETH’S SHRINE
The party gathers on shore and continues across the bridge into another small chamber where everything looks newer than the other spaces in this cavern network. Inside is a large ruin, strange non-euclidian geometric structures, and a shrine upon a dais. The shimmering carvings in the wall beyond the shrine hurt to looks at. It sounds like the cacophonous flute music is coming from the wall; the room emanates evil.
Scattered across the dais where the lines of the room converge, lie corpses of an ankheg, an enormous owl, a darkmantle, a basilisk, and a baby griffin; all deceased. Throughout the designs are some animal shapes, which Fraas posits mark a ritual sequences, the missing creatures being a hydra, a frost worm, a manticore, and phase spider, all magical beasts. It is clear the ritual was very close to being completed.
They clear the room of carcasses and burn all but the griffin. Rand carves a holy symbol and anoints it with a drop of his blood. The music ceases.
A GRIFFIN’S DEATH, A GRIFFIN’S RETURN
They move back into the turtle’s chamber. Bork teleports up the hole in the ceiling and drops a rope for the rest to climb up, back into the forest. They take the baby griffin’s body to the waiting mama griffin. She cries, swoops in, not saying anything. She gently nudges Rand, who strokes her lovingly. It flies off with its child in its mouth.
That night, the first watch proceeds uneventfully. On second watch, Rand, Sentinel and Fraas smell a rush of sulfur and hear fire crackling in the distance. They wake others, while Fraas turns into a cloud shape to spot if there is an incoming blaze, but sees nothing. Those awake notice a form coalescing in the middle of the campfire; everyone readies for a fight.
What emerges, however, is the shape of a Griffin, Boko’s Griffin. It steps out of the fire and walks to Rand. It burns to touch it, and looks like it was made of ash. Gfed translates the squawks: “I know you, you kind. You all friends of Griffin. You danger life, help Griffon. I do you as did brother. Must go soon. You all know — names has power. My names. Small power, big power, many big power.”
“Qas, Am, Unaat.”
Rand says the words and the heat from the creature no longer hurts. “You try more. Practice. Your name has power too. You try. Must go.” The griffin dissipates into Rand’s lungs in a fading cloud of fire and ash. Fraas mumbles to himself, “must be Rand’s other name? Hmmm.”
Rand says Qas Am Unaat again, feeling warmer. Fraas nudges him, “louder!”. “QAS!!” The griffin reappears. Rand places Boko’s magical war saddle on its back and hops on. It trundles along unsteadily for a bit. It turns its head toward Rand, “You heavy. This take practice.”