Aella, the half-elf storm sorceress, shook her head as she emerged from the "Brain Jellies". She was in an underground corridor that reeked of fish. Alot and Bordar were peering around a corner anxiously watching a corridor with weapons ready. "Where are we? What's going on?"
Craig Oxworth, the dwarven shipwright, held his finger to his lips, "We're infiltratin' the stronghold of the sahuagin - the one what used to be the home of the lizard-folk. Its pretty empty so far. Here are some maps the lizard-folk gave us. They're very incomplete. This corridor here now links up to this room and there are some new rooms here."
Aella looked at the crude maps and rolled her eyes, "These are garbage. Give me that quill. Where's Captain Baylore?"
"He's scoutin' ahead. He's the stealthy one so he goes ahead to the end of the corridor and comes back to get us if its safe."
Aella shot Craig a suspicious look, "If it's SAFE?"
"Yeah. This is a scoutin' mission. We're not supposed to start killin' everything if we can help it. We're supposed t' revised the map, make a note of how many soldiers and leaders they got, and get get the info back to Saltmarsh so the assault can begin proper. If we're discovered, it could jeopardize the whole thing."
Aella looked out into the dark. Captain Baylore was returning. "Then what does the Captain need us for? He could probably accomplish this mission better by himself."
"THE STRONGHOLD OF THE SAHUAGIN"
- Avastana "Aella" Kádár - Neutral, Half-Elf Outlander and Storm Sorceress from Ket, daughter of the king of the sea elves, Deck Sorceress of the Sea Ghost.
- Alot Aname - Neutral Good Warforged Fighter, ancient sentinel of a wizard's fortress, spent several decades deactivated underwater, Bosun of the Sea Ghost.
- Captain Baylore - Neutral Human Pirate and Pugilist (Monk), Captain of the Sea Ghost.
- Bordar Graniteshaper - Lawful Good Dwarven Bearer of Grudges (Barbarian), exiled from his clan, Ballast of the Sea Ghost.
- Craig "Blunderbuss" Oxworth - Lawful Good Dwarven Priest of St. Ogden (Cleric), sailor and shipwright.
Captain Baylore briefed the rest of the team on what he saw before exploring another corridor. He encountered the sound of digging tools hitting stone and the strong aromas of lizard, orc, and fish. He paused to briefly inspect a room on the right filled with supplies before looking around the corner to the left. He found a dozen slaves - mostly orcs and lizard-folk - digging and expanding an unfinished chamber. They were being supervised by a handful of sahuagin fish-men. He spotted a set of descending stairs behind a low wall.
Down another corridor he spotted another guard post. He could make out a portcullis just beyond
He retreated and conferred with the team. They had sufficient packets of the magical dust of disappearance that they could all slip past. However, they had no idea what to expect.
They decided to finish exploring this level before they descended to the next. They retraced their steps and looped back around. They took a previously unexplored corridor with three unoccupied officers quarters. The corridor eventually connected with the guard post with the portcullis.
After further conference it was decided that Captain Baylore would descend to the second level alone in order to scout ahead.
Bordar sprinkled Baylore with some more magical dust and the pirate captain disappeared. He easily slipped past the overseers and workers and descended the stairs.
To his surprise the level below them was flooded.
He drew the hood of his magical Cloak of the Manta Ray over head head and descended into the water. The cloak not only allowed him to survive underwater without the need to breathe, it propelled him effortlessly through the water like its namesake.
He quickly scouted around the corridors at the bottom of the stairs. He put on a magic ring he had acquired from the Loyal Quartermasters of Iuz. The ring allowed him to see through objects like doors or boxes. He noted some occupied officers' quarters and a staging area where a group of sahuagin fish-men were preparing to go on patrol. Down another corridor he found a large temple where a group of priestesses were performing a ritual to appease a massive two-headed shark.
Shern the Lobster
Baylore looked into a side room and saw that it was filled with coral, anemones, starfish, and other small sea life. He was prepared to move on when he sensed a presence within his mind.
"Hello there" said the voice inside his head, a strange voice that was not his own. He visualized a mental picture of himself entering the room.
Baylore paused and examined the room, "Uh, hello?"
Baylore engaged in a kind of conversation with the alien voice within his head. A few thought were communicated as a kind of language mixed with mental images.
"Uh, what are you?" inquired Baylore.
"I don't know. I call myself Shern. What are you? I can't see you." was the reply.
"I am invisible. My name is Baylore. I am a human. Could you maybe come forward?"
A large lobster crawled into the center of the room and considered Baylore. Baylore thought, "
Don't be alarmed, I'm going to pick you up. Are you Shern?"
Don't be alarmed, I'm going to pick you up. Are you Shern?"
"I am." was the reply.
Baylore asked, "Where did you come from?"
Shern replied with images of his memory at sea. The lobster then shared his memories of being captured by the sahuagin and forced to fight other lobsters for their entertainment. Shern's memories recounted how he escaped and made his way to this room where he had been hiding.
"Is there anything I can do to help you?" inquired Baylore.
"Escape," replied Shern.
"You bet, little buddy. I'm going to put you in this sack. You will be safe and hidden. Is that okay?"
Baylore put Shern in a bag and quickly returned to report to the others.
Aella, Bordar, and Craig each drank a magic potion that allowed them to breathe normally underwater. Alot was a mechanical automaton and had no need to breathe. They sprinkled invisibility powder on themselves and sneaked past the guard to descend the stairs.
The rest of the team was much slower than Baylore underwater so the captain struck off down a corridor on the other side of the temple while the others took a different corridor to the right.
A Close Call
Since the team was invisible, they each held onto the belt of the person in front of them as Aella led the way.
The corridor revealed another barracks where a group of sahuagin soldiers were preparing to go on patrol. The patrol began to exit the room towards the corridor in which the team stood!
Aella turned and urgently whispered to her invisible companions, "Get back! Quickly!" They scrambled invisibly back down the corridor as fast as they could. Craig the dwarf whispered in a panic, "Wait! Wait!" Aella grabbed the invisible dwarf and carried him down the corridor. Her magical ring of swimming propelled her and her dwarven cargo faster than the dwarf could manage on his own.
The two sahuagin in the front rank of the formation held up their webbed hands to pause the procession. There was some kind of commotion and some cavitation created by the fleeing intruders but their invisibility shielded them from view.
The two sahuagin scanned the corridor. Unable to spot anything else unusual they eventually proceeded towards the stairs down which the team had descended.
The patrol was going up to level one but the players didn't know that. As they quickly retreated I asked them which way they wanted to retreat. Luckily they chose the corridor to the right because the patrol took the left towards the stairs. Not only that but the two sahuagin scanning the corridor each made perception checks but rolled miserably!
Once the procession has passed Baylore checked in with the others. He told Aella what he had found so she could update the map.
The team proceeded down a corridor to the right. A long corridor branched to the left. A set of stairs descended ahead of them.
Baylore told the others to wait while he explored the corridor to the right. He found a side room filled with armored attack sharks and kept going. He entered a long dining hall. He could hear noises down the large corridor to the right.
He peeked within and saw a large ornate chamber - an audience hall or throne room. A muscular four-armed sahuagin sat upon the throne hearing the burbling and hissing entreaties of a bowing supplicant before him. Baylore didn't need to know the language to know someone was begging for forgiveness.
Baylore noted the number of guards and armored attack sharks in the wings of the room and returned to the others.
Baylore told the others to wait here. He would descend the to the level beneath them and map the entire level.
Baylore looked into the room below and saw a sahuagin wizard and severl officers. Several sahuagin dozed as they floated within a small forest of long kelp.
Baylore mysteriously appeared from a shadow on the far side of the room. He looked into an adjacent room and found a cage with two large fighting fish. Shern asked Baylore to free them but Baylore apologized and said he'd come back for them.
Baylore once again disappeared into a shadow and reappeared near the exit. He was still invisible for now. He knew he had only a few minutes so he had to move fast.
He stepped from shadow to shadow, disappearing and reappearing, all while invisible. He utilized his magic ring of X-Ray vision to peer through the door, note the contents of a room, and quickly move on.
He spied a dungeon to his right. He saw a locathah prisoner being tortured.
Baylore silently said to himself, "Sorry guy. You're not why I'm here."
He continued to move. He found a chamber filled with attack sharks and some stairs ascending to level two.
He swam back and heard cheering down a side corridor to his left. He took a quick look. It was a large arena hollowed out of the rock in a diamond shape. Dozens of sahuagin were watching two warriors settling a dispute. He quickly dipped back and continued down the corridor.
He made a note of a barracks with six soldiers and two spell-casters. He then found a guard post with a closed portcullis. The guard post was sparsely manned. Baylore simply disappeared into the darkness and reappeared from a shadow on the far side of the portcullis.
Baylore came across a massive unfinished chamber with a long terrace. The limited visibility of his dark-vision allowed to see only a few dozen sahuagin sleeping in kelp beds but he could sense that the room was much larger.
Uncertain how much time he had left before the dust of disappearance wore off, he retraced his steps and rejoined his companions on the second level.
The dust had worn off by the time he returned and everyone was now visible. They floated in the water at the top of the stairs leading down to the third level.
Baylore recounted all that he saw and Aella updated the maps given to the team by the lizard-folk based on Baylore's description.
Suddenly there was a clamor from down a nearby corridor. Some sahuagin were hissing and gurgling in alarm. They were swimming as fast as they could into the audience chamber. Whatever it was that upset him was urgent and very important.
Had the team been discovered? They did leave a lot of dead bodies at the entrance on the first level.
They were about to find out.
To be Continued...
Only later did I see that the doors in the complex were three inches thick and made of stone. That's too thick for Baylore's ring of X-Ray vision. Oh well.
Baylore pretty much soloed this entire dungeon. He's got the best stealth, the Cloak of the Manta Ray, and can teleport through shadows as a bonus action. The others were holding him back.
I was worried the other players would become bored. I allowed Aella's player to continue mapping while Baylore explored. The maps above are what she compiled. I later told the other players about my concern and at least one of them said Baylore going on his own was their decision as a group and it made the most sense so they had no problem with it.
We're taking July 3rd off but we'll be back in two weeks with the escape from the Stronghold of the Sahuagin!