Leaving Myriana, we turn on Yap with a barrage of questions. Though the Pixie doesn’t have all the answers, we learn that the monster Kreeg and his Ogre army indeed passed through here, using that petrified Dryad as bait to draw out Myriana, torturing and killing her as an entrée to the carnage at Fort Rannik.
Yap doesn’t recognise any of Captain Baden’s possessions, but he does identify the staff section as being made from cold iron; a metal that the fae fear apparently.
I don’t like it much myself to be honest.
Unfortunately Yap knows little of the territories beyond this corrupted swampland so it looks like we’ll be traveling blind to the Hook Mountain.
We return to camp and spend the next day resting. I’m anxious that our delay will spell peril for Turtleback Ferry but we’d be foolish to advance into such unknown danger fatigued as we are.
The downpour endures and by the time we mount up to leave, the river has swelled alarmingly. When we reach the Ford we need to race across before it, and any chance of passing across is completely inundated.
Then Athene notices something odd… the river, it’s running backwards! Surely, even with this rain it cannot be natural? What devilry is at work here?
We arrive on at the namesake of our destination on the opposite ban; a giant upturned turtle shell, bobbing violently in the surge. The Ferryman looks doubtfully at our horses and we’re forced to leave them with his son who leads them to higher ground. I trust Shadowmist but there’s no time to argue with the man.
Wrapping on my magical (Aquatic) cummerbund, we climb into the bobbing bowl. Heaving on soaked, thick ropes alongside the Ferryman and bailing out the rain, we cross the treacherous river without incident, arriving at settlement in near total deluge.
The shoreline has engulfed half the town, entire homes submerged, animals and people, running with arms full of sodden possessions… .
But where to start!?
As if in answer a chorus of shrill cries cuts through the chaos. A huddle of children, stranded in a ferry shell is drifting out with the current.
As Athene and I trudge towards them through the waist deep water, a giant river snake rises out of the depths and strikes into the bowl like it’s bobbing for apples.
The children shriek and scramble away, nearly capsizing their vessel.
The snake reels back, a small boy dangling from it’s clamped jaw.
Mahd is too far away behind a wall of blinding rain.
No time for arrows, nor to swim.
We have precious few options before this creature will disappear with its prey.
Then Thera, Athene’s owl swoops.
I hadn’t noticed before, but she has grown! Not enough to lift the giant reptile but enough to make it release the child and pursue her! Which us time to close the distance.
Wynter and I try to shift the shell but it’s snagged, so instead I join Athene going after the snake.
Thera’s in trouble as the serpent coils around her, dragging her down. This time though, we are close enough to help.
Gripping the wet hilt I take a single mighty swing that takes the snake’s head off.
Thera flies free with a loud screech and we push the shell of still screaming children to saftey.
Neither rain nor river level eases nor the plight of the townsfolk.
Athene shouts and runs through the tide towards the church, now a makeshift hospital crowded with the injured.
We join her without knowing the threat, until she points at a massive dark tree, uprooted and tumbling in the tide of other flotsam towards the church.
It will surely destroy all in it’s path, brick and flesh but again we are helpless to stop it!
All that can be done is to scream at the occupants to flee and try and evacuate those we can.
We arrive just ahead of it and climb atop the church roof, frustratingly with nothing, mundane or magical to stop it.
I have a fleeting, futile thought to wade in and brace myself against it but then disappears beneath the surface… That was no log…
Bursting out of the raging river, as tall as the church spire, is a dark, slick skinned leviathan ancient and terrifying. A ring of enormous, writhing tentacles whip out around it. A long, twisting serpentine neck with a great fang lined maw is fishing about for a target.
It howls at the world, an alien noise that turns the blood cold- The Black Maga!
It is a creature of pure malevolence, emanating evil and it is we who stand in the way. It’s great, teeth lined mouth sweeps across our front line and spews fourth a noxious black cloud that rolls over us.
Mahd’s magical minions burst fourth from the water around it and we all weigh in… That is except for Athene and Wynter who both seem to be struggling from the Maga’s breath.
Arrogantly it remains stationary it’s thick hide near impenetrable.
Tentacles wrap and crush. With Wynter barking insensibly and Athene looking around confused it is some time before we finally start to deal out some damage on this beast, but it’s more than a match for us.
I’m forced forced to channel Iomadae’s healing energy as Thera is smashed against the church wall, tumbling into the water unconscious.
Then I’m grabbed!
I’m looking around for it’s open mouth, sure again to be swallowed but I instead I’m tossed away, long and hard.
By the time I rise, lungs full of water, ribs aching, the mighty monster of the Skull River lurches away, angry waves rolling in its wake.
We have routed it, if not destroyed it.
But… Perhaps we should be thankful to have done so against such a creature.
The rain, the surging river seem to suddenly quieten with the disappearance of The Black Maga. The river’s direction corrects itself and those stranded on top of their shacks are able to leap down and run to dry ground. We wade into the church come infirmary where the Mayor still stands a little dumbstruck at the appearance of the monster.
He explains rather disturbingly that this ancient evil is singular minion of Lamashtu (surely no coincidence) and legend to reside in distant Storval Deep. Is it a long way from home, or is this the misinformation of rumour.
The Mayor seems convinced that the dam at Storval has began to fail. If that beast is here now, perhaps it already has!
He pleads for us to attend but I’m not sure what we three can do, unless Athene’s engineering knowledge might come in use ?
We agree to pass by there on the way to Hook Mountain but first, we share our fears of the cult at work amongst his flock.
I think the Mayor is traumatised. He dismisses our cautions with an almost negligent dismissal of the threat at hand.We have done all we can then and with so many issues requiring our help, we leave the fool to his work…