So the players had finally made it to the Causeway leading to the Entrance to the Sahuagin lair, now they faced a big decision, how to enter the Lair without raising the alarm and bringing the whole Sahuagin nest down on their shoulders.
A Job for a real Man!
While the party considered its options Slip chewed his lip and brought up the possibility of looking for a water based entrance, but after looking at the deep water below the causeway, and its waves lapping round the island it was agreed a boat would have been needed to investigate that avenue of ingress.
Not deterred by the lack of opportunities to sneak in Slip offered his services, if a stealthy approach to the large entrance could be agreed, it was his belief that a distraction may allow him to enter unseen and then facilitate access for the rest of the group.
The Plan takes shape
In a moment of clarity Figore Foechuckle the mad gnome offered a suggestion of merit to the party which amazingly made sense. He proposed using his invisibility spell on Slip who could then enter into the Fortress unseen while the party made a distraction to hopefully bring the entrance guards out to investigate, leaving the front door open, simple he stated with a knowing wink! brilliant! the party chanted, what a great idea. His moment was clarity was short lived though as he descended back into his normal chaotic state of shuffling babble!
Nets Gates & Gongs
The plan seemed to work an illusionary Sahuagin appeared to approach the large sealed entrance to the fortress. The approach of Figores conjuration, attracted the attention of three large Sahuagin guards watching from behind the large dressed stone entrance doors. Who seeing Figores illusionary projection opened them for a closer look, then walking forward across the end of the causeway, and staring is mild confusion the creatures watched as the magical facsimile of a Sahuagin dove elegantly into the dark waves of the azure sea below the causeway. Seeing his chance the now invisible Slip ducked inside and quietly began to examine the interior of the Fortress. His eyes quickly adapted to the dim light shining from two simple torches in the entrance area. As Slips eyes adjusted to the gloom of the lair he began to pick-up details of the rooms structure, walls of dressed stone carefully smoothed leading up to a ceiling fifteen feet above the smooth stone floors. To his left he noticed an Alarm gong and quickly decided to steal the Gong stick in a knee jerk attempt to render the alarm unusable. In front of him he made out the metallic cross pattern of a Grate securing access to the rest of the Lair. As Slip approached for a closer look he also spotted a large net suspended from the ceiling covering the approach to the crude steel Grate, and a rope leading from the net through a hole in the ceiling back into the room beyond.
Dark in here isn’t it!
As Slip quietly approached the next area waiting for his chance to press on, the Iron gate creaked open and the guards in the entrance porch and the cold darker room beyond swapped positions, “finally” Slip thought, “a chance to move on without raising attention to myself”. Quietly and cautiousness Slip moved past the entrance room to the guard area past the gate. As he did he noticed a series of corridors leading from this entrance area seemingly providing deeper access to the fortress. As Slip moved on his eyesight proved less than useful in the darker gloom of the deeper sections of the fortress. After 20 minutes of investigation the absolute dark of the interior meant his investigation would have to end until light could be brought to the interior of the Sahuagin lair.
Let me Outa! here
Returning back to the entrance areas Slip kept a close eye on the guards shuffling movements, then seeing his chance to leave created a distraction and darted past the front quickly returning to the group with details of the interior. Again the party needed a plan, at least this time they knew the numbers of Sahuagin guarding the entrance and the dastardly traps that had been set for them.
Bert is that you?
Not for the first time that day Figore offered his illusionary services, suggesting he create a phantom Sahuagin Guard to lead a party member as prisoner to the fortress doors. “This could work”! the party noted, as inquisitive creatures inside seemed interested enough last time to open the doors to the previous apparition. So with slip still invisible, and with the party hidden as close as they could be to the entrance without being seen Figores ghostly illusion manifested. Then with a sullen look on his face the prisoner of the magical guard was presented to the Front Entrance. Seeing the prisoner at the front gate the confused Sahuagin opened the doors and demanded the name of the phantom creature “Is that you Bert?” one of the creatures asked as it opened the doors to check the prisoner for weapons!
Controlled by the will of the Gnome Figore the phantom guard attacked the distracted creatures. supported by the hidden party and the magic of the latest Elven recruit to the group. A light flashed and a Sahuagin dropped to the floor asleep, blades swirled and axes crashed bringing the first room of defenders down in only 2 minutes. as the party gained access to the fortress porch area the sight of the heavy iron gate loomed menacingly in front of the vanguard fighters.
Talon the Ranger nimblest of the group walked forward to confront two Sahuagin hiding behind the safety of the Metal grate, after taking a wound from a well placed long crossbow harpoon Talon realised his position was untenable, unfortunately his nimble feet proved no match for the forgotten net hung on the ceiling above his head. With a quick tug on the rope and a watery gurgle of laughter the guards trapped Talon beneath the hooked trap, taking aim at the vulnerable ranger the creatures preceded to target him with shot after shot. The party replied with arrows of their own, and while the defending Sahuagin fired pre loaded harpoons into the group from the cover of the grate Talon was dragged to safety further inside the entrance porch. Slowly but surely the party whittled down the four Sahuagin defenders. Finally seeing the opportunity to rip open the metal gate Alori, his muscles rippling with the effort heaved the door up and open! Then with a sigh of relief the rest of the party entered the inner entrance chamber just in time to see one of the creatures disappear into the darkness of the inner Fortress.
A Nice bit of Marbling
Following some much needed healing the group moved cautiously on, splitting the ranger away from the main party, the Fortress was slowly and ever so cautiously investigated. The party tentatively moved on into the cold and darkness of the Sahuagins lair, room after room of dressed stone was discovered, along with discarded construction implements seemingly left behind by the builders of the new rooms. The plans provided by the accompanying Lizardmen started to slowly make sense, but the exact layout of the Fortress had changed considerably from when they occupied the now cold clinical and eerie place. Some of the rooms that were discovered seemed fit for a more important guest as Green marble tiles had been set into the smooth clean dressed stone floors. Most rooms had empty stone coffers casually laid open with tables and benches set for use but no sign of occupancy. It seemed as though the eerie cold Fortress was in the midst of a refit and this upper level was not quite ready.
Racks of Pain!
Twenty minutes or so after first entering the lair the main party entered the darkness of a very large store room, festooned with rack after rack of Sahuagin weapons, Long nose Crossbows designed to fire long harpoon ammunition, nets with hooks attached to the edges for catching and trapping prey. Long spears with sharp barbs for skewering unfortunate adversary’s. All the items looked new and in good condition, but worryingly it was not the quality but the quantity of the weapons that concerned the group. This armoury was designed for hundreds of Sahuagin not ten or twenty! Then, as the party investigated a series of rooms attached to the large Rack filled armoury, the noise of approaching guards alerted them to the imminent arrival of a patrol. Following a quick and bloody confrontation the party dispatched the outclassed and outnumbered guards and moved on.
Turning the corner of a dark cold corridor the party stumbled across what looked like a long holding cell sealed shut by a large iron gate, identical to the one at the entrance. After opening the gate the party entered to find a long line of manacles hanging from the East and West walls of the smelly, cold cell. At the far end the lifeless body of an old emaciated man could be seen covered in tattered clothing that looked at one time may have been the garb of a noble or even a Sage! After the party healed the poor creature he seemed to perk up and begin telling his story. His name is Elmo and he was part of a party of adventurers sent by the Sea Princes specifically the Prince of Montmurg, from the south to investigate the extent of the Sahuagin invasion of the Azure sea coast. He and his three friends had entered from the watery entrance below only to be met by overwhelming Sahuagin numbers. They were captured and he was set to work as a mere slave, working on the refitting of the Fortress to the careful specifications of the Sahuagin leadership. He and his group expected to be underwater and had brought with them suitable underwater equipment as even then the lowest level of the Fortress was submerged, he recounted a strange occurrence that happened shortly after his capture where an earthquake had been felt by all the inhabitants that left them terrified. As his mind wandered, he remembers the magical equipment his party arrived with and he seems to reach out into the darkness saying “Remember Metamorph, Remember Metamorph” then sinks back to lean wearily against the damp wall. He is surprised when told he is on the upper level of the fortress as the last he knew he was below sea level. What is obvious to the group though is Elmo’s rather confused state following his brush with death by exhaustion. He does not remember where his equipment was kept but he does state that the oily creatures didn’t get their slippery fins on it. He does at one point in his babbling suggest that a possible place for the underwater equipment may be found on this level but confusion, exhaustion and old age work together to addle his once brilliant mind!
The Sound of Clanking
After healing Elmo the party pointed the way out and set off further into the darkness of the Fortress level, with light from the group creating shadows at every corner the sense of fear and doom loomed heavily over everyone. Then as the party approach a strange empty room not on the map of the Lizardmen the faint sound of clanking and hammering could be heard further down a particularly long section of cold clean corridor. looking to investigate further the party pushed on with the Ranger Talon and the Thief Slip acting as point men. Talons elvish eyesight helped him move forward into the deeper darkness then as the sound of the clanking and hammering got louder he rounded a corner into a room with partial lighting. The sight he sees gives his cause to shudder. approx ten Sahuagin seem to be casually guarding a large group of mixed race slaves, who seem to be an odd mix of construction workers, 1 Hobgoblin, 3 orcs and 6 lizardmen work feverishly smoothing and dressing the exterior of the half finished walls. Each slave seems shackled by the ankle and wears a metal collar. As the poor creatures work they are constantly whipped by the guarding Sahuagin and blood splatters can just be made out covering the floor around their work areas. Worrying though is not the presence of the Sahuagin, or their numbers or the sight of the feeble undernourished slaves , it is the sight of the steps in the centre of the room that lead down into the cold dark waters below that causes shivvers to creep down Talon ands Slips backs! It looks like Level 2 and below are now Under Water and with a look of concern on their faces Slip and Talon quietly track back to inform the party of their findings.