Wherein the party does battle with a ship-rending octopus bent on consuming their flesh.
Callindra’s Diary, 9/3
The rush of the air past my ears, the sound of the ship being destroyed and the screams of my companions were all suddenly cut off when I hit the water at speed. It was peacefully quiet down there, but I could see the sheer size of the giant octopus as its sucker covered tentacles writhed, searching for something to grab and tear.
I could see Holt swing from the edge of the rapidly disintegrating ship, rope wrapped around his slim chest and an arrow drawn all the way back to his ear. Even as he was falling he managed to loose an arrow directly into the thing’s eye. Not for the first time, I thank the Gods he is with us.
All too soon one of them found me, plucking me from the water and wrapping me in its strangling embrace. I struggled futilely, attempting to free an arm. When that failed, I called upon the Weave to weaken the creature. Just as I began to incant the spell, the tentacle tightened and my ribs began to crack. A gasp of pain interrupted my words and the Weave scattered. Determined, I concentrated and forced the spell back into the forefront of my mind.
“Focus.” Shadowsliver’s voice, Luftin’s voice, sharpened my senses and I started the spell again. This time I was able to complete it in spite of the pain of my fractured bones. The monster’s grip loosened on me ever so slightly before tightening again, worse than before. I coughed, tasting blood, knowing ribs had punctured my lungs. Time was running out for us, if we didn’t kill this thing soon we wouldn’t live to reach Waterdeep.
An arrow exploded from beneath the water, punching through several tentacles and leaving a shockwave of water and ichor behind it. I couldn’t see any of my companions, but at least I knew Holt was alive. The boat reformed itself on the surface of the water, leading me to believe that Connor had used his strange power to fix broken things. Unfortunately, it immediately became a target, two of the tentacles working together to reduce it to matchsticks.
When I tried to cast another weakening spell and had it crushed out of my memory I almost panicked. Then I remembered my magical pouch, the one that had useful, random things in it. With supreme effort I managed to wriggle around until I could slide my hand inside and when I pulled out one of the ten foot square iron doors it contained, I was able to slip from the deadly grasp of the octopus.
Tentacles splashed into the water all around me as I strove to swim closer to the monster, but I was able to avoid them. I drew Shadowsliver, but in spite of my best efforts was unable to get close enough to the thing to strike it. Instead I released a torrent of air from my outstretched hand and watched in satisfaction as it shredded soft flesh.
From my new vantage point I could now see Connor struggling in the deadly embrace of one of the tentacles and Kain was a few yards away, struggling to stay afloat. Without warning the creature collapsed, its passing causing currents of undertow that I simply wasn’t strong enough to resist in my wounded state. All I got was a half lung full of air before the waves closed over my head.
I saw Connor being dragged down still wrapped in a tentacle with a rope leading from him to the destroyed ship. It didn’t seem like he was conscious. In spite of my protesting ribs, I kicked down to where he was. Swimming down was far easier than swimming up. The rope parted at the touch of Shadowsliver’s edge and one of Kain’s fish helped to untangle the tentacle.
Vilhylm arrived at more or less the same time and between us and the fish we managed to get the comatose Connor to the surface. Reaching once again into my pouch, I removed a rowboat. Magic really is incredibly useful. The looks on the other’s faces was absolutely priceless, I wish I hadn’t been in too much pain to enjoy it.
After what seemed an eternity of rowing, not that I was in any shape to help in spite of Kain’s assistance, we finally arrived at the shore of the small island to the South of Waterdeep that had been our original destination. Connor was in much better shape than I was for all that he had almost been dead a short while ago. We are most fortunate to have Kain; healers are a precious commodity.
We picked our way through the wreckage on shore and made our way up to the base of the huge wall that spanned the island. Connor made a shelter that blended into the dunes and I barely made it inside before collapsing onto one of the beds and falling into a deep sleep. I dreamed of strange things.
I was wearing a low cut silk gown that somehow managed to make it appear as though my breasts were much larger than they really are. My hair was trimmed and elaborately styled with some sort of sticky substance and a fine gold chain strung with emeralds and pearls was threaded through it. There was paint on my face that accentuated the angles of my cheekbones and the set of my eyes. Even Shadowsliver had a jeweled sheath that made him seem to be an ornament rather than an instrument of death.
All that was disconcerting, but the most unsettling were the people around me. A dozen or so handsome men, all apparently desperate for my attention as though I were the latest attraction in a carnival sideshow. I could almost hear the barker shouting, “See the girl chained to a sword, destined to slay the abyss from birth! Slender and deadly, don’t get too close to this battle hardened beauty!”
Beyond them stood a group of disapproving women, the lower half of their faces hidden by fans but their disapproval clear in their eyes. I was competition. I distractedly noticed that Vilhylm was standing by the door, a long ornately carved and obviously decorative spear in his hand. Connor was next to him wearing, of all things, scale maile that was comprised of tiny gears. Holt was wearing the uniform of a page, tight fitting hose that showcased his … ankles and a velvet doublet that strained across his muscular chest.
Kain was dressed in the latest fashion, or what I assumed was the latest fashion since the other men wore similar garb; hose that disappeared into voluminous pantaloons that gathered just below the knee and a dark green velvet doublet over a pristine white silk shirt. His fierce face and Mohawk made the outfit look ludicrous. All of my companions looked ill at ease; I assumed due to their lack of weapons. At least I couldn’t be separated from my Beloved.
I felt the sun’s rays on my face and realized I had slept through the disappearance of Connor’s shelter. Thankfully, I had been on the ground floor. I rose and stretched, feeling the tenderness of my ribs but glad they didn’t still feel as though they were piercing my internal organs and walked to the wall. I tried climbing it, but even though I imagine it hadn’t been maintained for at least a year there weren’t any decent hand holds once I got a few yards up and I was forced to drop down.
I was working some Korumn, enjoying the cool breeze off the ocean and thankful for a full night’s sleep when I heard Holt hailing me from the top of the wall. He had used a grapnel and rope to scale the wall, so I took advantage of it and easily swung up beside him. The bay looked completely calm. I didn’t see the slightest movement anywhere, neither on the water or between the buildings.
Between us we devised a plan. We would portage our small rowboat to the western edge of this island and then make use of Connor’s magic to get inside the city unnoticed. It was only a skeleton of a plan, but since there didn’t seem to be anyone on this island and unless they were very stealthy nobody was watching the waters beyond it seemed to be a solid idea. Of course, I know that most plans barely survive the first few minutes of a battle.
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