The battle for Estona has been won, and the Wrathbreakers have sealed a major victory over the deepfolk, as well as rooting out and destroying a deep magic cult in the city. In the aftermath they were finally able to get some rest and healing, butt here remains one significant task for them to attend to: Eliabak’s final reckoning with the Selkie, who he organized to kill and harvest for magic reagents to power his ill-fated golem experiment. The roster for this session:

  • Bao Tap, human stormcaller
  • Itzel, elven Astrologer
  • Ella, spume dwarf scoundrel
  • Xu, human weaponmaster from Ariaka

After day of rest the Wrathbreakers visited the Iron Hand’s lair, a small villa outside the Estona city walls. Having slain them at the beginning of the battle for Estona, they took some time to loot the building and glean some reward for all their hard work. They then returned to Estona to meet with the leadership council, where they explained the situation as best they understood it, were given due reward for their hard work, and extracted a promise to hand over Eliabak for punishment. They learnt that Eliabak’s rival, Boric, had been commissioned to try and repair and recover the golem, to correct its corrupted parts, and press it into use as a potent defender of the city; to this end messages had been sent to Elizabeth the 4th in the Valley of Gon, requesting access to the books she had taken on the construction of golems from the deep cult sorceress there.

The following day they took Eliabak from his prison cell onto a ship called the Grey Fox, and set off for the place where they met the Selkie queen. They traveled for two days under steel grey skies, and arrived at the windswept rocky outcrop where they had last found the Selkie queen in the early afternoon of the second day. A small deatchment of marines rowed them ashore, drawing the ship’s boat up the sandy beach under the watchful gaze of five seals. The marines stayed at the ship’s boat, warily eyeing the seals where they lazily splashed in the surf, and the Wrathbreakers dragged their protesting prisoner up the beach to the strange cave on the promontory. This time they knew the way, and dragged him straight down the slick steps to the lower cavern, where they had confronted the selkie and met the queen. The pool of water at the foot of the steps was still and dark, almost indistinguishable from the black stone of the cave floor. They stopped at the pool’s edge and waited, and shortly the queen herself emerged from the far side of the pool, walking out of the darkness of the cave beyond, which they had never entered. She was just as they remembered, the pale grey skin, the trident and the tall, imperious presence unchanged from when they first met. However, this time she was alone, and behind her in the cavern they could sense a dark, brooding magical presence, something older and more powerful even than her. A faint light flickered inside the cave, like a single tiny glowing dot in the deep sea, and they all felt a a faint compulsion to move towards it and reach for it – though they also felt that were they to do so, something huge and terrible would emerge from the darkness and swallow them whole. They stood their ground, and presented Eliabak to the queen.

As soon as they pushed him forward a huge sea lion emerged from the dark pool, heaving its huge upper body out of the water and pushing its flippers on the ledge so that it leaned close to the prisoner, who fell on his knees before it. The rest of them staggered back in shock, thinking it would grab him in its huge jaws and drag him into the pool, but it did not. Instead, it sniffed at him and seemed to stare deep into his eyes with its own saucer-like, limpid orbs. Then it slid back into the water and slipped out of sight in the darkness, leaving the barest ripple in the surface of the water. As the water fell still again the queen spoke.

“Yes, it his him. Push him in.”

There was no question of disobeying. Xu kicked Eliabak in the back and he fell into the water, still trying to protest his innocence through his tight gag. He kicked and thrashed in the water, trying to stay afloat with just his legs, and the Wrathbreakers waited for the lampreys to gather and begin eating him. They did not, though. Instead they saw many tiny dots of coloured light emerging from the depths of the pool and a swarm of huge jellyfish floated to the surface. They were large, translucent balls strung through with pulsating light, long faintly luminescent tentacles hanging beneath them. As they rose up from the depths they filled the pool like gelid bubbles, and the ones beneath Eliabak seemed to support him, lifting him up a little in the water so he floated on his back, his nose and mouth out of the water. Others swarmed in and began wrapping tentacles around his arms and legs and across his stomach. He began to scream in pain, thrashing the water desperately as the stingers began to sink into his limbs. Then the kicking began to become weaker and subside, and with it the horrible screaming dropped to growls and grunts, then to gasping, and then stopped. Eliabak floated in the water, buoyed up by the jellyfish, his eyes wide and terrified, breathing in short, small gasps, as more tentacles wrapped around his feet, hands and neck.

“He is paralyzed,” the Queen told them. “He will float there now, helpless, while the jellyfish digest him. It should take weeks, assuming his heart withstands the pain, which has not stopped.” She gestured to them. “Come forward. I must speak with you.”

They looked at each other nervously, and then walked around the pool, carefully avoiding putting their feet in the stinger-infested waters. Eliabak’s eyes followed them, but he could barely move his head. He managed to move it weakly a little, and as soon as his left ear fully submerged in the water a loop of gently pulsating blue and green lights wrapped around it, a jellyfish tentacle grabbing onto the exposed flesh. They moved around until they stood in front of the Queen.

Behind the Queen the darkness seemed to throb and pulse with bristling menace. Darkness so deep it felt like it should be a liquid filled the room, and vaguely through it they saw that pulsing lure. They drew back from it with the physical effort of resisting its pull, and then the Queen told them that this darkness was the lord of the ocean, and it wished to communicate with one of them. Who would it be?

They discussed it briefly. It seemed natural that the correct supplicant should be Bao Tap, as the storm caller, but they were not sure if the lord of the ocean could communicate in any language except elvish. Until now Itzel had been responsible for all the communication with the Queen. What would happen if someone went into that darkness who could not communicate with the thing in the centre? Would they be treated as an animal? So, it was decided: Itzel must go in. She gathered her courage as best she could and stepped through the arched entrance into the darkness.

Inside she found herself floating, as if she were at the edge of the continental shelf looking down into the vast deeps of the sea, or perhaps somewhere deeper and peering down into unfathomable depths of inky, crushing water. Vast shapes and powers drifted by her, out of all proportion to the scale of the room. Images flowed in her head: it communicated with her by sense and impression, not in words. She felt a vast and overwhelming power, and realized that somehow she was in the presence of the closest thing the Archipelago had to a god. She stood for a moment in that darkness, simultaneously in the depths of the ocean, communing with this ancient god, and then it was gone, the lure blinked out, the darkness faded, and she stood in the sudden stunning brightness of a phosphorescent cave that smelt of brine and stale air. It was gone.

She returned through the arch to her friends and told them what she had seen.

“The Lord of the Ocean grants us one favour,” she explained, “and says to use it wisely.”

Behind them, Eliabak floated helplessly on his bed of jellyfish, slowly dying. The queen turned away and walked into the cave where he Lord of the Ocean had been. As she passed she stopped briefly to touch Itzel on her shoulder with one strangely cold, delicate hand, and then she too was gone.

They stepped carefully back around the pool, not stopping to look back at Eliabak’s floating grave. Perhaps he managed to choke out a whispered plea to them as they entered the tunnel that led to the surface, or perhaps it was the wind blowing through the caverns. In any case, they did not pay it heed. They trudged slowly to the surface and emerged from the cave mouth into the biting cold of the wind, standing free under a grey sky of scudding clouds, frozen rain and salt spray hitting their faces as the weather slowly turned worse. Down on the beach the marines saw them and waved hurriedly, began preparing the boat. They picked their way down to the shore and walked past the seals, which watched them with the same expressionless black eyes. The marines pushed the boat into the waves and sculled them hurriedly back to the Grey Fox, where they climbed aboard and set off hurriedly. They returned to their cabins, wishing more than ever before that these small boats might have space aboard for a decent bath, to wash away the sins of a month spent soaked in blood and pain.

The Grey Fox headed back to Estona, and they prepared themselves for the next stage of their campaign: to uncover the truth about the deep cult, and maybe, finally, break the deep folk for once and for all.

The ocean heaved with ancient uncaring power beneath them, and behind them a man slowly died, alone and in pain, in a cold dark watery grave of his own making.