Thursday, 15 September 2016

Deep Watch Bay: Part II

When last we left our party, Kalgar, Tong, and Alvyn were on their way to Deep Watch Bay, an outpost whose official purpose was to guard against terrors of the deep ocean, but which our party suspected of being a superweapon facility. We join them now, within sight of the outpost. 
Dallas Kasaboski

The captains departed, the ships were made ready, and Kalgar and Tong returned to the top deck. There was still a strange lack of ships; there should be something guarding this, Kalgar thought.

By now, the details of the outpost were becoming more clear. They could see large walls and giant docks, easily large enough to host several galleons, which seemed strange for what was supposed to be a small border outpost.

Other than some small fires in the fort, there were no signs of life.

"It's quiet", Tong said, "no one is celebrating anything."

Kalgar shook his head, remembering adventures long ago.

"There's still no sign...what could it mean?" Tong asked.

"Three options: no one is here, trap, or...trap."

"Alvyn, is it the second option?" Tong asked.

Alvyn popped out of the bag, "What's happening?"

"Two of the three options are traps." Tong was uncomfortably close to Alvyn.

"What options? I'm in a backpack, I don't know what's going on!"

"There's still no one here, it looks like the forts are deserted." Kalgar said.

"Okay, turn around." 

"And go where?" Kalgar asked, confusedly.

"No, just turn around so I can see."

Tong started laughing.

"Hmm, how many people would accompany a commodore?" Alvyn said, looking around.

"Usually a few. One to handle requests and one to handle communications between the fleet." 

"Okay, bring a runner," Alvyn said, "and he and Tong form the retinue."

Kalgar looked to one side. He was worried about bringing someone. In a fight, he could count on Alvyn and Tong, but Alvyn had to remain hidden until things got serious. Gnomes were extremely uncommon in Aes. They had to bring someone, someone who could escape and make it back to the ship. Kalgar thought about his crew, and the crews of the other ships. These were dangerous times and every choice Kalgar made would have long-lasting effects. A quick brush with a storm took the life of his crewmate, a scourge in Ferum took the life of a crewman who hadn't even left the ship.

Kalgar signaled over to The Bilge Rat, who sent over one crewman. People called him Joey, but his real name was Jorfrey. He was a dragonborn, mid-way through his first tour, and his athleticism caught Kalgar's attention during some training exercises.

"You are coming with us," Kalgar began, "You will be escorting me and your main job will be to communicate between myself and The Bilge Rat."

"So, should I bring these flags?" Joey said.

Alvyn popped out of the bag, "[Sigh] When things go bad, you run back and tell them that things went bad."

"Oh, okay." Jorfrey said.

Kalgar and Tong could hear Alvyn's muffled voice from inside the bag.
"I said get a coward, not an idiot."

Finally, the ship docked, and our adventurers moved to disembark. Immediately, they could sense something strange about the water just off the dock.

Tong looks suspiciously and says to Kalgar, "Take a look at the waves, there's something...amiss."

Kalgar looked, something about the current seemed weird.

Tong dropped a stone into the water. It sank normally.

Kalgar lowered his backpack to the dock. Alvyn took a closer look, but couldn't sense anything.

"Talk to the frogmen", Alvyn said.

Rolling his eyes back in his head, Tong reached into the Reverie. There, he was able to communicate with all followers of Ioun, including the one from Kalgar's fleet who was currently under the ship. 

"He seems fine." Tong said.

"Good, I was worried he may be soup." the gnome quipped.

"Let's get going." Kalgar said, he was getting impatient.

As they made their way, the first thing they noticed were supplies. Barrels, crates, just lying there, things which should have been taken if the fleet was just going to leave. Moving up a smooth cobblestone walkway, the main gate was wide open. Inside, was a small courtyard, again abandoned. Cannons were placed on the walls, everything looked ready to be used, but still abandoned.

"Send your runner back, get men on those cannons, this base is ours now." Alvyn suggested.

Tong laughed.

"Plus, that would be a fitting action for a commodore, would it not, Kalgar?"

Kalgar nodded, but he was thinking of something else. He recalled the first time he saw a superweapon, which destroyed an entire island. He relayed this to his comrades.

"Yes, but it destroyed the entire island, not just the people on it." Alvyn said.

"Yes, and if they were planning to lure us here to kill us on the island...they would have taken their supplies with them." Kalgar reasoned.

"They had the time." Alvyn said.

Kalgar nodded decisively. "Joey, back to the ship, report to Lieutenant Dwight, get some men out here. It's not right for an Aesian fort to have no defenses."

As the runner made his way back to the ship, our adventurers continued. At the far end of the courtyard, there appeared to be a stairway leading down, as well as a large lift. The ground beneath their feet was strange as well, soft, almost sponge-like.

"Alvyn, can you hand me a dagger?" Kalgar reached back.

He dropped the dagger, it landed point down, stuck into the ground a little, then fell over. Tong looked at him quizzically.

"Just testing something." Kalgar said, remembering that this base was made to protect against giant monsters.

"Let us proceed downward, toward the secret weapons base." Tong said, very loudly.

"Ssh, Tong, let the Commodore speak." Kalgar said, putting a hand on his friend's shoulder.

Down the stairs, the party came out to a large dungeon. There were two closed jail cells on either side, a desk, and a dragonborn statue at the end of the hall. The desk was empty, the cells were empty.

Tong looked around, shaking his head back and forth.

"What are you looking for Tong?" Kalgar said.

Sweeping his eyes over every surface, Tong almost missed it. Nothing was out of place, except the eyes of the statue.

"Kalgar, regard the gaze of the statue, it's eyes! Some sort of mechanism! This looks like our way in!"

Kalgar placed himself to the left side and Tong to the right side of the statue and at the same time, they flipped the switches. Nothing happened.

"Huh, I thought that would have been more dramatic."

Kalgar commanded, "J'raksha kunal" which roughly translated from Draconic into "Open, you bastard!"

Again nothing.

"Hmm, maybe something different." Tong flipped the switches in various states.

Seeing no one around, Kalgar lowered his bag. "There's no one here, we're not sure where to go."

"There are switches in the eyes!" Tong said.

Alvyn looked around, and changing the colours of his irises, he tried to sense magic. All he could determine was that the eye switches controlled something somewhere else.

They walked back to the courtyard, nothing was different. "Try the lift", Alvyn said, jumping back in the backpack.

Inside the lift, Kalgar pulled the lever. As he did, he noticed that the lever could be lowered further, thanks to the switches. As he moved the lever to the hidden position, the lift started to move and the ground with it.

The walls of the shaft moved past them, stone, but very smooth. Kalgar realized that the wall was basalt, and the island was in fact a dormant volcano. During his first tour in Aes, Kalgar had visited such facilities. After 100 ft or so, the elevator stopped. 

The corridor in front of them was long, dark, with double doors at the other side. Tong reached over behind Kalgar, pulled the lever up. The elevator started moving back up, and then back down when he moved the lever again.

"Just checking." Tong said.

"That's wise." Alvyn replied.

"This is not a great way to greet a Commodore!" Kalgar called out, his voice echoing down the hallway.

Kalgar reached his hand back, and Alvyn immediately felt pushed aside as a javelin rose from the Bag of Holding into Kalgar's hand. 

"Ahh!" Alvyn exclaimed.

Kalgar held the javelin, with attached sunrod out in front of him.

"Keep your eyes open for some sort of trap, or mechanism, it's all strange down here." the dragonborn warned the others.

"My third eye is always open...also I'll keep these open." Tong said, only losing some of his mystery.

Kalgar laughed, and followed up with, "You go first."

Reaching the double doors, Tong and Kalgar pushed them open. They were well-conditioned, oiled, and opened silently.

Looking inside, our party was faced with a large, domed room, carved out of the rock, with lights hanging in various parts of the room. It was practically a stadium in size, and all around them were bookshelves. Rows and rows of books.

Nearby, there were a couple of cabinets with what looked like index cards.

Farther into the room, there seemed to be a giant throne, and laying at the base of a giant staircase, some corpses.

"Ioun!" Tong gasped, looking at the repository of knowledge all around him. He moved immediately to the nearest cabinet, pulled out an index card and read it aloud. "XJ37-74-6.2 ....uhh...clearly not in Common, here Alvyn! Read this!"

Handing the card to Alvyn, still in Kalgar's bag, he read, "'Effect of high voltage mist on large scale etheric manipulators.' Hmm." 

"What's it say?" Tong asked, staring very intently at him.

"Uhh, how to electrify fog people." Alvyn replied.

"Must we always traipse through these temples of terror, masquerading under the pursuit of knowledge." the monk said, crossing his arms.

"Actually, it's fog that electrocutes people, sorry." Alvyn replied, ignoring Tong. 

"First the Iron Tower and now this." Tong continued, ignoring Alvyn.

Kalgar reached over and pulled out another card. Again a long string of letters and numbers along with the text, "Experimental results of Experiment X37JB."

"Let's find anything that's important and then destroy it all." Alvyn said.

"Tong, can you check out that stack of cards over there?" Kalgar asked.

Flipping through more cards, Tong saw more of the same. Letters, numbers, strange text.

Kalgar moved further out, coming to a statue standing at the end of the first row of bookshelves. It was a fairly simple depiction of an Aesian sailor. Nothing interesting.

The party pushed out further, exploring the room.

Suddenly, all around them, archers and warriors appeared! There was no warning, no sound or smell of teleportation, they just appeared! All were human, wearing typical Aesian military attire, but Kalgar could not recognize the insignia they wore. They drew their swords, long bows, and stared with ominous presence.
And right in the middle of the action, we're going to make a stop this week. Thank you again for reading and please come back soon!

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