Friday, February 9, 2018
Session 51: The Big Fish
I swear on my ancestors, these bastards are going to get me fucking killed. Crawling around these damned fungus-infested caves, it’s been -days- since I’ve seen the sun and smelled fresh air. And for what? Taking a stick from a big smelly fish monster.
After slaughtering the “baby” fish, we decided to descend into the deeps to go after Big Daddy. The mage waggled his fingers and spoke his gibberish for ten minutes and then, in his creepy monotone way, announced we could now breathe water. I couldn’t tell that anything was different so I was naturally skeptical. Who wouldn’t be? I’ve known the bard for months and I trust him as far as I can throw him (more on that later) but I’ve only known the mage and his warrior friend for about a fortnight. So I let the others jump in first and waited to see if they drowned. No such luck. So reluctantly, I jumped in after them. Now, by my ancestors, if you’ve never had the pleasure of being under the effects of a water breathing spell, I have to tell you that taking that first breath of murky, disgusting water is godsdamned hard. You have to convince yourself that drowning sounds like kind of a good idea. I almost passed out before I managed to will myself to take a breath. But eventually I got the hang of it.
Swimming down into the depths, the bard’s driftglobe providing an eerie, cloudy pall over everything. I readied my bow, little good it would do. Have you ever tried firing a bow under water? About as impotent as a eunuch in a brothel. We descended into what looked to be some sort of dilapidated temple. The symbolism seemed to show Tiamat in several aspects. There was the normal Bitch Queen of evil dragons but there was also symbolism of a more primordial aspect that seemed to involve dark, watery chaos at the center of the cosmos eating away at reality, balance, and order. Given our current surroundings, I found the second aspect considerably more disturbing.
I was swimming along when the bard reached a hand out to grab my shoulder. Distracted by temple murals and frescoes, I was so startled, I almost shot the bugger. The bard gestured toward the far end of the temple nave where there was a tunnel leading further in. In front of the tunnel opening were what appeared to be some sort of giant crustaceans. There was one giant, mean looking one and two only slightly less giant, possibly meaner looking ones. I wasn’t looking forward to engaging these monsters but I didn’t see much choice so I drew back my bow and took aim. But the warrior, in a soldierly halting gesture, implored me to wait. He then withdrew a deck of cards from some pocket in his armor. I thought to myself, He wants to parley lobsters over a game of euchre? He’s fucking mad! But then he drew a card and tossed it towards the lobsters. When the card flew through the water, despite the resistance, it dawned on me that the cards must be magical. Sure enough, the card detonated into an illusion of an archmage and his apprentice. The crustaceans, falling for the illusion, immediately began to tread toward the two phantom mages. I nocked my arrow again, ready to press the advantage of an ambush but the warrior halted me once again. He gestured and the illusory images began to swim back to the far end of the temple, with the lobsters following close behind. I tried to protest, knowing the creatures would likely ambush us from behind once the illusion was dispelled but the fools were too daft to understand me underwater and swam forward toward the tunnel. What could I do but follow?
We swam into a natural cave festooned with algae and seaweed. And a big fucking aboleth. The abomination spoke to us directly in our minds, demanding to know why we were here. It didn’t bother to wait for an answer before trying to bind us to its hellish will. Luckily, we were able to resist. Then the bard got that stupid smirk on his face. I don’t know what thoughts that fool projected to the aboleth but, I shit you not, that fish monstrosity actually started laughing in my mind. The bard laughed too, or gurgled I guess, obviously pleased with himself. The warrior waded forward, drawing his net and halberd, and attacked the creature. At the same time, I felt a tingle rush up my spine as a lightning bolt surged through the water and struck the aboleth. The laughing stopped and I knew we were in trouble. That fish slapped the warrior with its tail so hard I thought his eyes were going to pop out but he shook it off. He’s a stalwart one, I’ll give him that.
I nocked an arrow as the bard gurgled a spell and pointed at me. The arrowhead began to glow and bubble in the water. I took aim and loosed but the damn water resistance ruined my shot and the arrow tumbled down to the sea bed. I quickly took aim with another and struck true that time. The aboleth swam near the bard and me, and then I noticed the bard’s expression become blank and his pupils dilated. And that’s when things started to get interesting. The warrior closed on the fish, earning another tail slap in the process, and attacked again. The aboleth retaliated with its tentacles. The bard uttered another spell and gestured toward the warrior. To my horror, I watched as the warrior’s breastplate began to glow with the same reddish light as my arrowhead a moment ago. BY MY ANCESTORS, I KNEW I COULDN’T TRUST THAT GODSDAMNED BARD! Seeing he was bewitched, the wizard attempted to dispel the effect but his spell must have fizzled because next thing I know, the wizard’s body lurched and convulsed, changing form until he was godsdamned chicken. Meanwhile, the warrior, cooking in his own armor, was left at the mercy of the fish beast’s tentacles and tail. He put up a valiant fight against the creature but soon succumbed to his injuries, falling unconscious in the water. The warrior and the mage both dispatched, the bard and the aboleth both turned their sights on me. I loosed a couple quick arrows, one striking home, before the fish was upon me, berating me with its damned tentacles. The creature’s mucus surrounded me, choking my lungs and making me gag. Oddly enough, I briefly found this indescribably hilarious and then quickly realized the bard was working his magic on me. Steeling my nerves as I drew my sword, I was able to block out the spell. Battered and burned from the spells and attacks, I knew the aboleth couldn’t take much more. Dodging another tentacle, I managed to drive my sword up under its jaw and stab at the creature’s brain. The tentacles twitched and then grew still as the abomination died on my blade and I breathed a sigh of relief.
Extracting my sword, I looked defensively toward the bard. He blinked a few times and then looked about, confused. I could already tell, that oaf didn’t remember a fucking bit of what he had done. The wizard was restored to his true form and the warrior rescued from death’s door.
Searching the grotto, we found a treasure trove but, strangely, the rod wasn’t among the pieces. The warrior then spotted its gleaming white tip glinting against the aboleth’s dark, scaly underbelly. The creature had hidden it in a pouch in it is hide. Collecting our prize, we prepared to exit the caverns, not looking forward at all to fighting our way back through all the fish people, other fish people, driders, lobsters, and every other bastard you could think of. To our amazement, we found the caverns deserted. With the aboleth dead, its psionic hold over the slave community in the caverns was broken and, tasting freedom perhaps for the first time, they all fled at first opportunity. We quickly traversed the caverns, picking up the liberated slaves we housed in the warrior’s magical fortress along the way, and made our way back to Darkshelf. And I’ve been retching that foul mucus the entire time. I don’t think I’ll ever get the taste of rancid fucking fish out of my mouth for as long as I live.