The dragon-headed ship sent them into the darkness. Chaos-god backlash howled at them from behind. The three rescued villagers introduced themselves as: Stephan the elf, Edmund the hunter and Sam the halfling vagrant. They committed to helping the party discover a way back to the surface. Noises from below gave away stowaways. Seamus cowed three beastmen in the hold and, in halting common, they pledged themselves as slaves. Aki, Buk and Qith joined the party, displaying porcupine, bull and snake qualities.
The party spent the day planning for a life of reaving and theft. Eladin awoke his elven heritage, calling upon the patron Azradakhan, demon lord of storms and destruction to grant him spells. Stephan joined him, though was wary of dedication to single entity. Syndra grabbed her holy symbol and listened to the dimmed whispers from behind them, speaking of a time of true chaos and the formation of insanity. She called upon dreaming Cthulhu and became his priestess. Seamus and Elric simply sparred, practicing with their new weapons. Seamus’ axe continued to awaken the berserker in him while Elric’s jeweled sword awoke with a magical fire. Festus the dwarf joined their practice, showing them the ways of the dwarven people.
The pleasure cruise ended as the ship slowed and ground to a sudden halt in shallow, muddy water. Sending the beastmen ahead of them, the party entered the muck, Sam swimming. Frog-like humanoids erupted from the water, surprising them. The “frawgs” attacked with crude clubs and fangs. As the former peasants battled, the water turned into a slurry of bloody, mud and flesh chunks. Edmund the hunter fell screaming as did Aki. No sooner had the frawgs fell, than large fresh-water crabs emerged to feast on the dead. Their claws proved deadly and Buk, the bull, was crushed and snapped in half. The party sustained serious injuries and the fallen rested in the thick soup of crab, mud and frawg. Great Cthulhu seemed not to care. Syndra could not get a healing response and finally resorted to sacrificing portions of herself to draw upon the dreamer’s power and heal her friends.
The ship stuck was stuck and the waist-deep water led further into darkness. They decided to explore the nearby rocky beach. A stone archway beckoned to them – translating runes, Eladin and Stephan determined this to be a holy site to Ira, god of mountains and dwarves. Festus warned the party that Ira was a god of extreme law and unforgiving punishment. They followed a passageway, noting that others had recently passed through. A glowing, green door seemed stuck. Reading a chant on the wall, Syndra determined that Ira was asking the faithful to coat themselves in a sacrifice of their own blood in order to pass freely. Elric was the only one who did so, cutting deep and smearing blood on his face. The door opened, though a trap triggered for the others. Another door unhinged and fell as a stone slab atop poor Sam. The halfling’s luck ran out and he was crushed. The remaining beastman, Qith, died within an arrow trap.
The trapped hallway emerged into a large, open space filled with decorated supporting columns. At the end of the hallway was an altar to Ira, a foreboding face carved into the entire wall. An odd, decapitated skeleton sat on a throne. Touching the carving, four pillars glowed and carved stone images animated and attacked. The creatures proved near indestructible. Magic weapons and blunt devices helped. Syndra continued to call on a thankless god and began to sacrifice more and more of herself to keep them healed. Festus and Seamus fell after destroying three of the statues. The last one seemed on the verge of destroying the party, but Elric managed to crack and destroy it. The blood face-paint seemed to prevent the statues from attacking him. Luck or the gods prevailed for Elric and Seamus. Poor Festus, however, did not animate, his pulverized dwarven face a testament to the danger within the sepulcher.
The elves looked at the altar, noting again the headless skeleton and an antechamber they had not noticed before. Inside was treasure, though one item appeared to have been recently looted. A niche intended to hold a hero’s weapon remained empty. They discovered a secret door leading further into the complex, silently mourned Festus and moved on.