After slaying the green dragon Ruzain, the party is welcomed into the village of Mantru, in the basin of what was once a massive volcano. During the celebrations they discover that the House Tharashk mercenaries have come through here, but on the directions of an elven woman named Jolana Minuvae, they went to an island in the nearby lake. This place, Taboo Island, is believed to be cursed by terrible evil, and its temple is occupied by renegade tribal humans. The party decides to go anyway. Jolana follows.
They storm the temple, slay the renegade tribal warriors and take their treasure while the non-combatant people of the tribe flee. Draxon dies in the melee after sustaining a huge number of wounds. They continue on and find some strange idols of tentacle-faced, tendril-tailed creatures, and hear talk of the “God Below” worshiped by the people here. They proceed further in, finding collapsed passages, weakened floors, and another idol, this one possibly cursed. They are joined by a paladin of Dol Arah, Axon, as they proceed to the lower level, which is partially flooded. As they carry on through a corridor with high water, they are attacked by rats who leap out of holes in the walls.
Experience Gained: 30 XP (Level 6)
Day XX in The Isle of Dread
Peril, Gelzinn, and Litreex are on their way to the village of Mantru with the tribal hunters after successfully slaying Ruzain, the green dragon who was called the God of the Island by the villagers. On the way, while climbing up the slopes of the huge dead volcano at the heart of the Isle of Dread, they encounter Draxon and Duine, the former of whom is soaked in blood and the latter of whom claims to have nothing interesting to remark on regarding where they’ve been. The party decides to drop it.
They descend down the inner slope of the caldera, and follow the hunters to a village at the shore of a small lake near the center. This is Mantru, surrounded by wooded pallisades and guarded by vigilant, fierce-looking warriors. Huaka explains what the party has done to help the village, and caution turns to celebration as a feast is thrown in the party’s honour.
During the festivities, Gelzinn meditates, trying again to contact his mute supervisor with telepathy he probably doesn’t have. Duine incessantly asks questions of the villagers, Litreex regales them with stories of his recent triumph and offers answers to questions nobody is asking, and Draxon is shoving cooked meat into his bag. Huaka introduces Peril to an elderly scarred warrior named Fano, who is apparently Mantru’s chief. Fano thanks the party and offers hospitality for as long as they wish to have it. He also assures Peril that the green dragon scales are being worked on by the tribe’s armour makers, who he insists are “incredibly skilled.”
The party is permitted to stay in the villagers’ homes, who are very enthusiastic to have such esteemed guests, such that they want every member of the party to stay in a different hut. Duine thinks the most appealing response to this is to visit every villager and promise he will stay in every single one of their homes, which causes some confusion and conflict, although he seems oblivious to it.
When asked about the Tharashk mercenaries, Fano explains that some of them, at least, did visit Mantru. However, they have since left. Fano does not where, but tells them that a woman named Jolana was speaking with them, and may know their destination. The party asks about Jolana, and are directed to a quiet dark-skinned woman sitting next to the fire, eating some food. She stands out from the villagers with her pointed ears, revealing her as an elf, as well as assorted scarves, and a bag of books. She sits cross-legged, a sheathed double-bladed scimitar on her lap. Bandages on her body suggest relatively recent injury.
They approach her, and she is friendly, if somewhat reserved. She introduces herself as Jolana Minuvae, and describes herself as an “amateur scholar of the Faerie Courts.” She is surprised when the party reveals that they know they are in the Feywild. By her account, she took passage on the ship of a smuggler (soon revealed to have been Gulch, the Badger) from Sharn to Stormreach, which was caught in a fierce storm and ran aground on the Isle of Dread. Though stranded, she claims to be excited about the prospect of actually visiting the plane, which is a rare opportunity.
She talks a bit about the mystery of the island. According to Jolana, it is a highly unusual place. It is too stable to be a wild region of Thelanis, and there is no Feyspire or signs that one ever existed here, so it is not controlled by the eladrin. That means that it must belong to an archfey, but there appear to be no particular stories taking place here, and no clear concrete individual that could be the archfey. She is trying to determine this individual’s identity. She is also trying to determine why so many of the island’s inhabitants — the tribes, the neanderthals — seem not to fey, while there are no obvious fey in side.
When asked about the Tharashk mercenaries, she tells the party that she did indeed encounter them, including their leader, Rhashk Aashta d’Thurashk. Apparently, she spoke with them at length. She says their numbers were depleted, but they were looking for some ruined temple. They asked Jolana about others like them, non-tribal humans or half-orcs, and she directed them to island in the middle of the lake, which she says is called “Taboo Island” by the villagers. There, she said, there is a ruined temple, and there have been sightings of half-orcs and humans from afar.
Day XX in The Isle of Dread
At breakfast, after learning that Jolana has told the party of Taboo Island, Fano comes to speak with them again, this time with the village priest, Lumat. They are intent on talking about the island while avoiding talking about it as much as possible. When questioned about their reticence, they explain that even to speak of the island is to draw the attention of the evil that lives there.
They offer to give the party the use of one of their canoes to go to Taboo Island in exchange for a service. Apparently, the island is home to some renegade villagers, not just from Mantru but from the Southern Peninsula as well. They have been corrupted by the evil of the island, and prey on Mantru and its people. The villagers fear to go near the island to try and stop them for fear of being corrupted themselves, so Fano asks that the party deal with the renegades on their behalf.
The party agrees. The priest, Lumat, offers some spellcasting services, which he says are miracles from the sky god. Apparently, unlike in the Southern Peninsula, the people here do not worship totem animals or raise the dead, and so Lumat cannot help with mortal wounds or lost appendages (like Gelzinn’s eye), but he can help with lesser wounds, poisons, and diseases. He also gives them three clay pots, filled with potions of healing.
The weather is poor, so the adventurers decide to wait until the following day to investigate the island. The party spends the day at ease. Peril takes to calling Gelzinn “One-Eye”.
Day XX in The Isle of Dread
The party sets out on a boat on a canoe for Taboo Island, with two Mantru villagers to do the rowing. Jolana boards with them as well, explaining that she is too wounded to fight but she believes that the mysterious missing archfey may be in the temple on the island, and wants the opportunity to potentially meet it and study it herself. In exchange, she offers some small healing capabilities and whatever knowledge she has to offer.
They arrive at the island’s western shore, where there is a small stone pier with a few canoes already present. A ruined temple is carved into the cliff here, where steps descend down into the lake. Poles thrust into the ground and in grooves on the pier hold shrunken heads, jawbones, and totems. There are no people in sight.
The adventurers waste no time in proceeding into the temple. The interior is hot, damp, and smells fetid. From the pier they enter immediately into a grand hall, held up by huge red marble pillars. The feet and ankles of a long-destroyed statue stand here, and the hall is lit by braziers held by hands that extend from bas-reliefs on either side. A single exit leads further into the temple. They investigate the area for a moment to ensure there are no traps before proceeding.
In the corridor leading out of the grand entry, they find a pile of rubble blocking their path. Draxon attempts to clear it, and while he is doing so, the renegade tribesmen attack. They apparently heard him working and took the time to amass a large number of warriors, seventeen in total, their faces all painted with crimson markings. The fight takes place in the narrow passage. Draxon and Gelzinn act as a bloody spear breaking through the enemy lines. Duine provides psychic assistance and Litreex offers arcane help from the back, alongside Peril firing arrows into the fray. Their leader, an elite warrior carrying an ancient-looking spear, is killed almost immediately after ordering the charge in an unfamiliar, gutteral-sounding tongue. One warrior proves astonishingly resilient to Gelzinn’s attacks, although he eventually manages to achieve victory after his frustration has sufficiently mounted.
The last warrior flees out the other end of the corridor, into the main hall. The party pursues, and sees a large room three stories tall, with three walls of the second story supporting a balcony. In the middle, a bonfire blazes, around which are scattered mats, furs, and eating utensils with some half-eaten meals. There is a hole in the ceiling, partially covered by a net, from which hangs a rope. The noncombatants of Taboo Island are fleeing up the rope, protected by the remaining warriors — another sixteen or so in total.
The party ignores these other people for now and pursues the last warrior who attacked them. They slay him on the stairs as he tries to run up to the balcony, and take a moment to catch their breath and drink two of Lumat’s potions. The chaos is still ongoing, and the noncombatants are still fleeing. Nobody seems to want to fight at the moment, so the party explores a little, locating a secret room with some rotting mechanisms they can’t quite discern the significance of.
While they are exploring, an older man emerges from one of the rooms along the balcony, which seems to agitate the warrior. He is dressed in finer armour and furs than the others in his tribe, and he is escorted by two others: an elite warrior of the tribe, like the one who led the attack in the corridor, and what appears to be a priest. They stand at the end of the hall, above an exit shaped like a tall face.
The elderly man orders everyone still in the main hall to gather before him on the main floor, while he stands above on the balcony. The party complies, and the man introduces himself as, chieftain of the New Tribe that venerates the “God Below”. He is quick to probe the party for the reasons behind their intrusion, which they initially dodge, and change the subject to the Tharashk mercenaries. Vikao reveals that they did, in fact, come through; like the party, they killed a few of the men here, but they paid a “fine price” to pass, and so the New Tribe forgave them and let them through.
With this in mind, the adventurers attempt to barter for the same. Vikao informs them that because their crimes against the New Tribe are greater, they must pay a higher price. Gelzinn offers up the green dragon tooth idol, a cypher he has been carrying since the raid on the lizardfolk lair. The chief asks to see the item, so Gelzinn brings it up to the balcony alone. The priest inspects it, but as he is blind, he must feel it while Gelzinn holds it.
He whispers to the chief in the same harsh tongue they heard from the elite earlier. Vikao nods. He agrees to accept the fang, but says “a little more is still necessary to pay the price of spilt blood.” The party is upset by this. Vikao cautions them that if a fight emerges, “at least one” of their allies will die. Nevertheless, they decide to simply attack. Litreex backs up and sets Phaos to work on the warriors alongside Draxon, who charges in immediately, anchor swinging. Gelzinn is immediately forced to contend with the chieftain, the elite warrior, and the priest, the latter of whom morphs his hand into a strange, almost reptilian webbed hand with three fingers and claws. Gelzinn holds his own until this cursed hand touches him. His vision fills with blackness as the sensation of being plunged into icy cold water overrides his senses. He passes out on the floor.
Draxon takes on a full half of the warriors in the main floor below, fighting hard but steadily being overwhelmed despite his seemingly unstoppable rage. Phaos is being pushed back by the warriors it fights. Litreex sets up a shield of junk assembled from the main hall, which causes the remaining four warriors firing arrows at him to have trouble hitting him. Peril and Duine scramble up to the balcony, as Peril tries to get closer to Gelzinn to save him. Duine uses psychic pushes to send Gelzinn’s attackers away in fear, succeeding against the chieftain and the warrior but not against the priest. Peril takes the moment of change and attempts to throw one of Lumat’s healing potions into Gelzinn’s mouth, but misses. The priest then runs at Peril. Peril dodges the first strike with the clawed hand and cuts a deep wound into the man with his falchion, but the second touch lands true, and like Gelzinn before him he falls into darkness.
Litreex infuses Gelzinn with raw arcane magic at a distance, causing him to snap back into consciousness. He rises, hammers the priest, but does not defeat him before he leaps down from the balcony to the main floor below. He makes a break for Vikao and slays the chieftain. The blind priest panics and makes a break for it. Some of the straggling warriors also run out the exit to the cliff.
Vikao and the warrior regain their composure, and fire arrows from their bows at Duine. He manages to dodge a few and retorts with some psychic strikes, but is taken down by the sixth arrow. Draxon is soon overwhelmed as well after felling nearly all of his enemies. He manages to regain his footing once, he too falls, riddled with spears and arrows, and dies from his many wounds. Phaos manages to stand an impressively long time before it is overrun as well. Gelzinn gets to Duine and staunches his bleeding.
Now alone, Litreex takes the spiral-carved jade he found in the green dragon Ruzain’s lair and hurls it at the advancing warriors, coming at him after their defeat of Phaos. The shard’s impact consumes them in brilliant green fire. At this point, they finish off the last elite warrior, and the few remaining warriors follow the priest, who flees through the face-shaped exit.
With the New Tribe defeated, the party goes back to the pier, where they find Jolana and the two Mantru tribesmen, who have captured the wounded warriors that tried to flee from inside. The party informs Jolana that it is safe inside, so she accompanies them, and they take a short rest. Jolana examines some of the carvings on the walls and remarks about how interesting they are.
After regrouping, they spend some time recovering from some of their wounds, identifying the ancient spear wielded by the first elite warrior as a blood spear, and briefly honoring Draxon’s death. They then loot the main chamber and sleeping quarters, retrieving some gems, valuable incense, weapon poisons, and three portions of potion of healing kept by the chief. They also take note of a bone idol in the chief’s quarters, depicting some odd creature with a snake-like lower body and a face with strange tendrils. They leave this alone and proceed into the next cooridor, which is blocked by a recently-constructed passage. The party finds the masonry tools used to build the blockage in another secret room, this one with mechanisms that control a flame-shooting jet in the face-like doorway. While uncovering this function, Peril accidentally torches Draxon’s body, as well as one of the captives. Duine tries to take Draxon’s anchor in memory of the fallen pirate, but the party talks him down from having to drag the absurdly huge thing around.
The party uses the masonry tools to dismantle the blockage. While they are doing so, a newcomer arrives at the island: he identifies himself by the suspiciously-familiar name “Axon”. The symbols he carries, the armor he wears, and the slight tilt of arrogance in turn identify him as a paladin of Dol Arah, Sovereign of Sun and Sacrifice. He informs the party that he is here pursuing an evil presence he has felt. He is seemingly only dimly aware that he is in Thelanis. He offers to accompany the party, and they accept, needing some new muscle with Draxon’s fall.
When the blockage is dismantled, the party proceeds down the hall. Axon takes point, and Phaos carries a torch to light the way. Peril notices the floor is damaged at one point, and Axon reveals he is carrying more than just his armor, holy symbol, and weapon: he has a magic rope that obeys his commands. He creates a taut line that the party uses to take some of their weight off the floor as they pass, and successfully avoid falling through.
Continuing forward, they find a small chamber with an altar, on which rests a small, intricately-carved box. Around it are shelves with a variety of treasures, most notably several bejeweled golden bowls. They take the bowls, and Litreex has Phaos examine the box after the party checks it (and clears it) for traps. Phaos opens the box and Litreex looks in. He sees a golden idol depicting a somewhat humanoid creature with tentacles on its face, clawed hands, and three tendril-like tails in place of legs — a more detailed and well-crafted reflection of the bone idol they found earlier. Litreex has a brief sensation of icy chill when looking at it, but it soon subsides. He has Phaos close the box, and speculates about the nature of the God Below, and its possible relation to the Dragon Below.
Beyond the altar room, there are stairs leading down, but they appear to be blocked off by rubble. The party sets about clearing it, and after a while, they reach cool water below — the passageway leads into a flooded chamber. Duine is sent in as he does not need to breathe, but he has no source of light. In the chamber beyond, there is a faintly bioluminescent oyster, which he attempts to use as a light. In wrestling with it, he opens it, revealing a black pearl. He takes the pearl and then rips the luminous tissue out of the oyster’s shell, killing it and causing the light to rapidly dim.
He then returns to the party and informs them what he has seen. The others follow through, with Litreex going first and bearing a torch to help the others find their way. They swim out of the large flooded chamber and into one of two adjoining corridors, where the water reaches a level of about 5 ft. Litreex rides on Phaos’ shoulders as they enter into the hallway, where the walls above the waterline are pocked with holes. As they cross this hall, giant rats leap from these tunnels and attack the party.