As I strongly suspected, we did find the wicked bitch Depora in the next room. She was lying in wait, along with her foul servants, a group of dretches. She was certainly not as we expected her. Although quite attractive, with her dark, purple skin and silken white hair, she did not resemble any elf that I have ever seen. In fact, she did a fitting job of matching the descriptions of the drow. Of course, those are just elven myth, used to scare children into behaving. Aren’t they?
Regardless, Depora did not answer any of our questions. She, in fact, began the conversation by firing a poisoned crossbow bolt into my back as we had advanced on the dretches. The creatures were a bit tougher then we had imagined, and it took most of our might to finish the dark elf and her minions, especially once I had succumbed to her poison and fallen into a deep slumber. The old legends spoke of the drow preferring a sleeping poison, and so this adds one more log the slow blaze that this woman may in fact indeed be a drow. The unique weapons and unknown symbology also contribute to the mystery. How fascinating!
Once the fight was finished, we examined the rest of the cavern. The strangely marked wall on the far end of the cavern turned out to be a below-ground section of the Cyphergate itself. Even more strange was the set of tools lying on a worktable nearby. It appeared that Depora had chiseled out a piece of the Cyphergate, as we found small bits of the special stone on the table. However, a larger chunk has definitely been removed and is no longer present.
The nearby journal and ledger provided further explanation. The ledger documented where the missing funds from the Gold Goblin had gone. Apparently Depora has been purchasing spell components, alchemical equipment, and exotic foodstuffs, all shipped out to the Devil’s Elbow. The journal appeared to document local weather events, as well as discussed the Blot, describing it as a side effect of the magical glyphs being experimented with on the island. Apparently the glyphs are not functioning at one hundred percent efficiency, and the formula needs “cleaned up” to minimize the side effects. This is supposed to help hide the magic from The Enemy, whomever that might be. It also stated that the glyphs could be fully functional as early as tonight. Suffice it say that we were left with more questions than answers here.
A tunnel in the ceiling lead to the surface, emerging near the Cyphergate and across the river from the main part of town. Once back at ground level, we decided that a trip to the Cypherlodge would not be the worst plan. We wanted to discuss what we had found with someone who might be able to provide answers, and of course I am always willing to take a detour in order to see a lady as lovely as Samaritha, our chosen source of knowledge. Sam was, of course, fascinated by what we had found, and requested that we take her to the cavern so that she could see the damage to the Cyphergate. Once she examined the wound, as well as the journal, she agreed that the missing section could be used as some sort of spell focus. To what end, she was not sure.
As we would prefer that these dark elves not use their glyphs against The Enemy, as that could possibly be us, we decided that we need to head to the Devil’s Elbow as soon as possible. As we are headed to the docks to charter a ship, our plans were altered drastically when a huge comet appeared in the sky above us. Fortunately it did not strike the city, as we had feared, but instead the flaming sphere landed somewhere out in the bay, likely in the vicinity of the Devil’s Elbow. Although we were not the target, Riddleport did not survive unscathed, as the meteor strike resulted in a massive tidal wave rising in the bay. The tsunami caused a great deal of damage to the wharves, as well as destroying most of the ships in the harbor. The ensuing chaos in town diverted our efforts, as we were forced to protect the townsfolk not only from the various sea creatures washed ashore, but from collapsing buildings drowning.
With the city being in turmoil, and nearly every ship in the harbor being unable to sail, we decided to stay in Riddleport and help with cleanup. Surprisingly, the local crime lords also contributed to the efforts – one of the few times any of us had seen such levels of cooperation from our leadership. Most of the week had passed before the city had regained its sanity. I spent the week helping both Samaritha at the Cypherlodge and Crystal at the Temple of Calistria, so I was quite busy both during the days as well as the nights.
As the next week rolled around, even with the city having quieted, we found it impossible to charter passage. Apparently the tsunami had caused damage, if not outright destruction, to all ships in the region, and so we were confined to Riddleport as rumors began to circulate in regards to the comet. Riddleport being what it is, the first thought on everyone’s mind was profit, and rocks falling from the sky bring to mind skymetal, a very valuable commodity. Our local crime lords quickly mobilized four expeditions to seek out the landing spot of the meteor strike, with the Avery Slyeg, a well-known smuggler, and his ship, the Black Bunyip heading out first. Clegg Zincher accompanies his own team shortly after, followed by a ship outfitted by the Cyphermages, and finally the Overlord’s team, a hired band of dwarves led by Gravin Goldhammer.
Knowing that continued investigation of the drow will require us to follow, we first attempted to gain passage with the Cyphermages, as both Samaritha and her master were to accompany that group. Unfortunately, Sam does not have enough sway with the guild to bring us along, and we are forced to wait for almost a week before we can follow. While we were trying desperately to book passage, and even considering commandeering a vessel in a very dashing and buccaneering fashion, Kwava was able to send word to his Lantern Bearer associates, and they booked a ship for us. The Flying Cloud and her captain, Josper Creesy (along with a certain lovely pirate lass previously discussed) arrived to convey us to our destination – the Devil’s Elbow. Although an unknown person or persons attempted to sabotage the ship, it only delayed our departure for a few hours, and soon we were off.
The voyage from Riddleport to the Devil’s Elbow only takes a few hours, and we arrived at the Devil’s Elbow near sunset, and the crater from the meteor strike was very clear on the northeast side of the island. Two watchtowers rose up on the north end of the island near a dock, and as we approached the pier, still standing despite its advanced age, we saw a group of dwarves approaching from the nearby buildings. Gravin Goldhammer lead this group – what remained of their expedition – quickly attempted to purchase passage off, “this cursed rock,” as he described it. His group had encountered a group of low-to-the-ground, lean, and fast-moving creatures that had decimated his party. Even worse, they fallen were seemingly rising from the dead to attack their former compatriots, and the survivors want nothing further to do with this adventure. Captain Creesy agreed to their request, and once money had changed hands, the dwarves boarded the longboat to depart. As it was approaching nightfall, and Kwava lacks the nightvision that the rest of our party shares, we decided to leave him behind for now – one, to assist the ship in case of attack, and two, to make sure that Creesy honors his word to return each day until we are ready to depart.
We saw a plume of smoke rising from somewhere on the eastern side of the island, but Gravin had told us that the Cypermages had set up their camp on the western end, in the remains of the old Witchlight settlement. As I preferred to see Samaritha unharmed, we set of first to the ruins to check on her and the mages. On the way, we were also assaulted by the beasties described by the dwarves, which turn out to be akata, lion-like alien creatures known to be associated with skymetal deposits, as the creatures are said to ride comets from world to world. They are said to weave cocoons of skymetal to shield themselves during their interstellar voyages. Whether there is any truth in that, be beasts themselves are quite real, and we repelled a small group of them before continuing to the encampment.
Once we arrived in Witchlight, we found signs of a battle, and the dwarves’ warnings turn out to be well founded, as a few of the fallen rose to attack us. We downed them quickly, and were fortunate to find Samaritha in a tower nearby, along with the few remaining Cyphermages – five in all. The rest had fallen to the akata, and apparently they were not done with their assault, as a huge group suddenly appeared on the outskirts, surrounding the tower. We were forced inside, while the creatures climbed the tower walls and scratched at the doors and window. The aged tower was not up to the task of supporting ourselves as well as the host of akata, and the damn walls collapsed, taking the entire tower, us included, along for the ride to the bottom of the cliff and the waiting sea below. Two of the mages did not survive the fall, while our party, Sam, and two other mages made it out. We also learned that these akata creatures have a severe allergy to salt water, and all of the monsters that survived the fall were finished by the surf. Knowing that, we decided to camp on the beach for the rest of the night, allowing ourselves the possibility of escaping into the waves if the akata attacked again.
Once we have recovered from our unpleasant experience, we’ll make a further plan. I am just happy that Samaritha has survived, and I plan to keep her close for the duration of our stay on this rock. I’ll further update this journal in the next few days. Fear not, my devoted audience, for my companions and I have been through worse and will survive this ordeal as well.