Skull and Shackles

Suddenly, Lovecraft

A very special Dovahkiin-centric episode

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The party decided to go to the Black Tower and recover Captain Tevenida Aiger’s sword, the Aiger’s Kiss for the fame it would bring.

Before sailing off, the party debated abducting Caulky Taroon. All except for Dovahkiin said they should leave her as an unwitting spy via scrying. After four days of sailing the tropical majesty known as the Shackles, the Nightmare arrived at the Isle of the Black Tower.

Dovahkiin was smelling the crisp sea air he had grown so fond of when the air began to smell of decaying trees and rotting fruit.

Zon scouted ahead in the fetid smothering heat. He saw the forest was full of horrible rotting trees and no animals besides frogs and insects. The tower itself was 400ft tall and only 30ft wide rising like a spike out of the oppressive jungle.

The party flew to the tower and Dovahkiin realized that it was supported by magic as much as it was by its architecture. Valignat burned away the plants atop the tower. Underneath was a substantial layer of dirt.

Harghast called upon his magic to cast stone shape on the tower. It opened a tiny hole that strangely closed on itself quickly. Valignat started digging like a dog in the dirt atop the tower. He found a trap door that was made of the same stone as the rest of the tower. Gork walked over and began pulling on it. Gork was having trouble with it so Dovahkiin asked for a try. Valignant just chuckled and told him to let the barbarian do it. With help from the dragon Gork was able to lift the door. Inside was an old flight of descending stairs. The party made their way down the stairs. Valignat squeezed down the narrow staircase after them. Dovahkiin cast invisibility on himself.

As Harghast walked down the steps he saw disturbing carvings on the wall. They were of sea monsters destroying towns, killing men, women, and children. Harghast’s blood was boiling at the sight of these demonic carvings. At the end of the stairs was a door. Harghast peered inside. He saw a black hand print on the wall, a statue of a mermaid holding a gemstone heart, runes, an uncarved serpentine gem, and a strange shield-like emblem suspended from chains.

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Harghast asked Dovahkiin to come and take a look. The wizard pushed past the others to get to the front. Dovahkiin recognized the handprint as the symbol of a Norgorberite sect that Captain Aiger had belonged to. The shield was the symbol of the horrible deity Dagon.
A new teacher, thanks to his wizard academy, Dovahkiin began to lecture. “Dagon is the Qlippoth lord of deep dwelling sea monsters and the like…” Dovahkiin walked over to the strange shield and admired it. “Oh, did I mention he likes deformity too? Very interesting he is one of the oldest..”

Dovahkiin noticed a trap on the shield. Zon was called over to disable it but he failed (by one) despite high skill. The shield shot out vile smelling water that hit invisible Dovahkiin.

All that was heard was a slimy flopping sound. Harghast cast Purge Invisibility and a four foot hagfish was revealed.

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The party guessed this was Dovahkiin so Valignat picked him up and carried him back to toss him in the Nightmare’s waterhold. The rest of the party began trying to destroy the shield but then it spat again. It narrowly missed Gork. Harghast and Gork returned to beating and slashing it. The shield spat again and this time struck Gork in the chest. It turned him into a starfish.

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Zon passed the returning dragon as the strix carried Gork to another waterhold aboard the Nightmare. Harghast was still up so he leapt in the air enraged by this tower’s evil and planted his sword in it but then the eye spat and turned him into an octopus.

Octoghast flopped around as Valignat returned. Harghast was embarrassed by the situation and begged Valignat to merely kill him and destroy the symbol. Fortunately Octopi can’t talk so Val grabbed the struggling cephalopod and gave him his own cistern barrel to stay in. Harghast tried to escape but only managed to ink the dragon.

Val returned and stayed out range of the trap and he began breathing fire. Zon also returned and opened fire. Finally, the shield was melted and shattered—never again to turn any adventurers into sea creatures.

Val took to the ship to go cure the party and Zon stayed on to guard at the tower with some non-human pirates to watch for claim jumpers. Zon was leaning on the edge of the tower like a gargoyle overlooking the island with Meeko at his side. Zon noticed a strange creature floating around in the trees. He grabbed his bow then took to wing startlingly fast. In the twelve seconds it took him to get to the bottom of the tower the creature had disappeared into the dense jungle undergrowth.

The guards would take turns watching in the towers first level and on top of it. The pirates became sick from the oppressive jungle as Zon tried his best to keep them in high spirits.
The party returned and were ready for another try.

Before heading down to the next level, Zon carefully picked up the uncarved gem and switched it with the heart shaped one.

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Then he decided that he wanted them both so he just took them. Dovahkiin recalled from his studies a stone similar to what the tower was made of. It was Abyssal stone that was grown rather than mined.

While Dovahkiin lectured them on the stone, Zon walked up to the door to the next level. Zon was able to pick the lock. Dovahkiin led this time for some reason. He saw two melted candle holders and peered around a corner.

There he saw a statue of a naked man with eels biting in and out of him. Someone saw that that it was blocking another staircase descending deeper into the evil tower.

Harghast entered the room with Dovahkiin and tried to move the statue. When he touched it, the statue let out a horrific scream of pain. Eels manifested in Harghast and Dovahkiin. Dovahkiin was not fooled by the illusion so he was just a bit sick from the image. Harghast was fooled so he started getting real bites opening all over his body.

The eels were only visible to those afflicted so Gork struggled to figure out what was happening. Dovahkiin tried to disintegrate the statue but it resisted due to being made of plot-onium. Dovahkiin tried examining it and found a pushable spot on its chest. He immediately pushed it. Somehow it didn’t kill him and it revealed a secret compartment.

Dovahkhiin realized that it was the size of the heart shaped stone Zon had taken. The wizard called over Zon. He didn’t come until Dovahkiin explained that he wanted the stone.

When Dovahkiin placed it in the statue the statue moved aside. Harghast was still being eaten but fortunately he had a whole stack of remove curses ready and removed the affliction. The group decided that it would be wisest to rest before heading any further.

The next day they gathered their party and ventured forth. There were more wicked fish decorations and a small room. Gork lead the way. Dovahkiin realized that the floor was unstable and warned everybody. Some yellow mold was spotted in the room and Dovahkiin flew to the front of the line for a closer look. When he did two nyogoth qippoths surprised him.

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The nyogoths were twisting masses of intestines and jaws. One of them struck the yellow fungus and released the spores and then they smacked Dovahkiin down. The party was able to get him out with his last hitpoint before the monsters could finish him.

Gork got that old mad look in his left eye. He slashed the beasts and chomped his teeth into one spraying acidic blood into his face but killing the nyogoth. Gork yelled out “This blood tastes horrible!” The remaining qippoth summoned an Acid Fog on the party.

The dragon’s head emerged from the fog and blasted the other monster with fire. It was immune but the yellow mold burned away. Zon jumped through the fading flame and plunged his cutlass into the beast’s probable brain. A calm fell over the battlefield.

The party healed and pressed on. Dovakiin turn invisible this time and cast a spell that made him tougher. Gork started walking into the room. He saw a statue with glittering eyes then he heard creaking…nothing happened so he took another step. With a loud crack the floor collapsed and the half-orc fell through to the room below.

The dragon looked down the hole and called out “Are you alright!” “Yeah!” Gork replied. “Want help up?” said the dragon. Gork declared “I can handle it” and easily leapt back up.

They healed Gork of the trivial damage he had taken. Dovahkiin detected no magic on the statue. Zon realized that the glittering was gems. The party all went down the hole Gork had fallen through. There were three statues. Dovahkiin recognized them as the three sons of a legendary Mwangi priest who sacrificed his sons for Dagon’s favor and then destroyed a place called the Crystal Isle in his honor.

Zon also saw that the statues heads looked like they could turn. He turned one and when he did a door opened. Suddenly his lungs filled with salt water, so he drank a water breathing potion. Harghast then lifted the curse.

The party entered the next room with Hargast leading the way.

Harghast looked in and saw horrible depictions on the walls. They showed even more horrible things being done for Dagon. Again, this made Harghast’s blood boil. To make things worse, in the corner he saw a skeleton wearing black leather armor. There was writing on the wall next to it that said, “The Shrouded Queen yet lives below, bound by Blackfingers’ forbiddance and Aiger’s Kiss. Seek not entrance for naught but her rotting curse awaits ye-let the slumbering darkness lie!"

There was also a mural of the Crystal Isle on the wall and a large and sealed trapdoor in the floor. The heads of the statues snapped back and now Dovahkiin’s lungs filled up with salt water.

Unfortunately, Harghast was out of Remove Curse spells so Dovahkiin drank a water breathing potion. So he could keep casting spells Dovahkiin started talking in Aquan.

Zon went back with Dovahkiin. This time they tied the heads in place. When they finished Dovahkiin used the Ring of the Iron Skull to find out who the dead person was.

She was none other than Captain Aiger. She had fallen in battle in order to contain a horrific monster, the Shrouded Queen, beneath the trap door. Dovakhiin suggested that they bring back Aiger for the fleet. Nobody objected at the time.

Of course, when a dead person leaves a message in their final moments that you should not open a sealed door with a big monster inside you should do the exact opposite. And that’s exactly what the party decided. But first, they would rest.

That night the dragon tossed and turned and kept bumping into things. The next morning he realized that he had grown into a huge behemoth.

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The next day the party prepared all the buff spells they might need and planned the attack. Dovahkiin had learned how to summon stronger creatures and even slept that night. The party returned and opened the door. Dovahkiin used his ancient magics TO SUMMON TWO GIANT HOLY OCTOPI!

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He commanded his squishy minions to charge in. The plan was that they would serve as a distraction while the party attacked. The door was lifted and inside was indeed the mutated Shrouded Queen.

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The Shrouded Queen’s horrible appearance drove one octopus temporarily insane. Dovahkiin shot the evil queen with a spell that made her dumb as a pig. The Queen killed both octopi. Zon opened fire and Val shifted to human and back as he leapt through the small opening.

This all served as a good cover for Gork to jump in and chop the monster into meaty chunks.

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The Shrouded Queen was gone! Dovahkiin flew down and grabbed a horn. In one pull he ripped it from its socket and wretched over the horrid smell. He then grabbed the other horn, ripped it out in three tugs and wretched again. Gork also pulled out a bone and began cleaning it as a gift for Meeko later.

Harghast saw Aiger’s Kiss impaled in the ground.

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He grabbed it with both hands and pulled. Harghast failed to lift it so Dovakiin came over and asked for a try. They then engaged in a prolonged and silly contest until Dovahkiin eventually ‘won.’

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Dovahkiin put it on the ground and began studying it when Harghast suddenly snatched it away. Demonic whispers emitted from the hole in the ground where the sword had been.

However, it seemed that the portal that had once been there was now closed—or was it?

Gork offered the cleaned bone to Meeko. The dog didn’t want it on account of the dead qippoth and its strange smell but after Gork offered it a second time he decided to eat it to be nice.

The party headed back to the ship. When they left the tower they saw a second ship next to the Nightmare. The Nightmare was also flying the other ship’s flag. As the party rushed in, both ships turned their weapons on the dragon. A half-elf yelled out to the party. "Don’t come any closer! I am Captain Valerande “Barracuda” son of Captain Aiger!"

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As he was talking, Zon noticed Rosie’s corpse in the water. Aiger kept talking. “I have all your crew hostage, well, all except the small one. She wouldn’t surrender, how unfortunate.”

Gork said under his breath “Unfortunate for you.” Dovahkiin was very worried about his wife on the ship so he asked his friends not to do anything hasty. Aiger demanded that the party give him the Aiger’s Kiss as it was his family sword. In exchange, the remaining crew would not be harmed. The party offered to resurrect his mother in exchange for the sword, but Aiger demanded then that his mother be returned to life and that he get his sword back.

To buy time, Valignat lied that the party needed to go retrieve the weapon from the tower. Aiger bought it.

Once out of earshot, the group made a plan. Dovakhiin would leave Meeko at the tower and send a signal for the warpriest and dragon to attack after Dovahkiin, Zon, and Gork would turn invisible and teleport into the ship to free the hostages…hopefully.

Dovahkiin cast the spell. It worked and they went to the Nightmare’s hold where Aiger had stupidly left no guards. Dovahkiin used his skulls to locate the crew and scout the ship. The crew was in the bilge, the skeletons had been smashed (fortunately, they can be easily replaced) and the enemy crew was all on the upper decks of the two ships. The party was about to free the crew when they heard someone coming. An invisible Zon got in position. When the guard came he quickly sent three arrows into him from point blank range. One in the neck, one in the head, and one in his heart. He was dead before he even hit the ground.

The party then freed the prisoners. Dovahkiin gave Grok a kiss and told her how happy he was that she was alright.

The party ordered the crew to arm themselves. Dovahkiin then gave Harghast and Val the signal. Aiger saw the dragon and rider approaching and began dictating the exchange when Zon crept up behind him. Aiger died in an instant and Valignat killed most of his crew in a single blast of his fiery breath. Gork emerged from below decks and called out to the survivors “Surrender, you whelps, or I shall teach you the true meaning of pain!”

To Gork’s disappointment, the enemy complied. The party had retaken the Nightmare. Although most of the party opposed, Harghast still wanted to raise the Aigers.

The Black Tower had been defeated and the party went to raise Rosie and search for Captain Harrigan’s old first mate.

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