Game Time: Friday, mid-day – with apologies for a very belated and almost certainly muddled version of the events as they transpired!
Illian's messenger met them in the tunnels while they searched for any sign of Katya's squad. A few sling bullets and crossbow bolts strewn around the Map Room were enough to worry the entire party, but most especially Shard: if Katya's squad were defeated, what chance did his new allies have? How hard must Illian come down on him for letting them all down? Damned if it would happen on his watch. His mouth was opening to send the messenger back to Illian with the news when Lenora gave the same command. The messenger eyed Shard for a moment, saw assent, and nodded back before turning to sprint down the walkway through the sewer.
They opened the Map Room mural again and headed down into the Lower Ocean Catacombs once more. Stopping for the Feymoss had been simple and uneventful, which was a relief to everyone – Terciel was glad to visit his ancestors' tomb again, and Rache was glad to have insurance against Gutar's threats, as little as they swayed her. When the party suggested heading back to the surface to ensure Rache was free and clear, she blushed for a moment and then explained just how little Gutar worried her, and how much Zlata and Illian must be counting on them to rescue Katya's squad. Shard smiled grimly and asked which hallways they'd already ruled out. He looked down each doorway, opening and closing his mouth to get a taste of the air and listen for anything that might be lurking there, and then headed south along the path they had chosen.
As soon as he saw the graves, Shard couldn't shake the feeling that something horrible had happened to the people buried here. He stepped into a shadow and felt a chill deep in his bones. For a moment his breath caught as though he'd been thrown off a cliff towards water, and his body was straining to buy him an extra second of life.
Stepping into the oddly-shaped chamber he saw angled pillars of black stone everywhere. As he crept closer, a handprint appeared and began to drip blood down the face of the tomb. He turned back and reported what he had seen, worried that his new allies would think him crazy or a coward, but they took it in stride and began to compose a plan.
Bree suggested a probing strike to draw the spirits out where they could be seen, and then a follow-up assault to pull her bacon out of the fire. After a brief discussion of the alternatives, she ran in, but a few steps later was assailed by the same doubts and terrors that seized Shard, and a moment later, found herself rooted to the spot as blood wept from the walls. Summoning as much arcane energy as she could muster, Bree clapped her tiny hands once fiercely and spread them apart in a swift semicircle: a blast of rainbow lights sprayed through the murky tomb, making the blood flash different colors, and from behind several pillars came unholy shrieks of agony. The radiant
light in her spell had burned them badly, and it looked for a moment that she had struck a decisive blow.
"Who is it that dares disturb our tomb? Show them we mean business, and are not to be trifled with." An authoritative voice rang out, salty with the cadence of the sea, and at his command spectral figures dressed in tattered sea rags floated through the walls and surrounded Bree. She was still rooted to the spot when they began to howl and
wail, intimidating more than injuring Bree — but their spectral fingers sunk into her flesh and did plenty of injury as well. The party surged forward to come to her aid, lashing out at the bloody handprints on the walls and the looming sailors' ghosts. Darg and Rache were stuck behind their comrades in the rear when they noticed ghosts beginning to seep through the walls at them as well.
Bree gamely socked it to the ghosts, outnumbered and loving it; Shard shook off his fear and waded in with his knives flashing; Lenora and Thea shouldered their way into the room swinging heavy steel. As Terciel fired arrow after arrow through the ghosts, Rache mentioned to him off-handedly that she'd seen something that Terciel might be
interested in when she had been at Gutar's the previous evening: the scrying ritual indicated that Narmo Mornamarya is here on the mortal plane, and is running some kind of slaving operation. It's unclear for now whether he knows that Liante is dead. Terciel was taken aback briefly but kept his game face on, unsure if Rache was trying to spoil
his aim, or to guarantee that he heard the news before they all died together here in this forsaken place.
Darg's attentions were divided as well, torn between trying to turn the undead on the spot and rushing forward to where it would be more effective. As more and more of the party became mired in the paralyzing shrieks, the Captain's bloodlust seemed to peak, and he ordered "a double dose of what we gave the others," which brought the
party up short. A few seconds of brief truce stretched out into minutes, but the walls kept weeping blood and the drowned sailors' ghosts hovered. In the parlay that followed, the party learned that the Captain and his crew were immune to the rituals Kral had used to raise the rest of the zombies. The Captain at first attributed it to
his crew's high spirits, but eventually admitted that an old mariners' superstition had saved them: those wise to the superstitions removed a particular fingerbone and a particular tooth from each corpse, and the crew's bodies had all been rendered irresurrectible. The Captain was right about their spirit though: they had plenty of it. Long before this latest rash of living dead, Kral and his champion Garon had come to the catacombs to raise the undead, and they had resisted. They had also resisted helping the "other" champions – and here the captain asked them directly whether they were the latest champions sent down, and had their temples sent them with the equipment they'd need? Garon, the captain said, had killed the last champions in the catacombs' basement, and there was no reason to think his powers had waned since then.
They took the captain's warning about Garon seriously, but pulled doggedly on the thread of "the others," and learned that a group of the living had been brought this way by some undead only to be turned back by the captain's crew, who delight in frustrating Kral's works ever since his failure to resurrect them pulled their spirits back to this spot. The Captain had heard of another group of spirits, similarly trapped and even more ferociously territorial, and swore that the undead – if they had passed to the south at all – had done so by a passage east of his tomb.