Amist a day that dawns a depressing grey seasoned with sea salt and served chilled, the Sea Bitch reaches the shores of the Archipelago. The crew is tense – even Marsala is up early to assist guiding the vessel amongst the dangerous reefs in the poor visibility. It is not long in the day before a sharp mountain, utterly barren and unforgiving, resolves itself from the mist. It juts from the sea like a dagger, the ocean bleeding its frothy blood upon its jagged shore.
Nimbly, the Sea Bitch dances around the dangerous rocks like a cat in a room of rocking chairs. A tense hour passes, punctuated by sudden strained orders to steer and adjust rigging. At the end, looking exhausted, the crew rallies again under a universal visage of dread. The city of Xxiphu lies ahead, all grandiose arches in elegant decay, piercing the surface of the sea but clearly not of it. No, this was no Aboleth city, it is unmistakably Samsaran in origin.
As the Sea Bitch glides closer to Xxiphu, gillmen riding hippocampus rise from the depths surrounding the ship…
Beneath the churning sea, dark shapes rise into visibility, emerging as strange fishmen wielding menacing bows and riding strange horse-fish creatures. Girded in uniform, carefully shaped coral armor, they bear an official mien, and one calls out in a clear voice weighted with authority. “You sail within the borders of the kingdom of Bathyal – which imposes a toll to keep these waterways safe. State your purpose and cargo.”
A peaceful interchange occurs and the crew learns that the ancient city Xxiphu is now named Bathyal and its king would have an audience with all adventures coming to the city. The ship docks, and the party assembles to meet the king…
Damp ruin, wrapped in the chill embrace of the Sea, surrounds you. Various structures, once undoubtedly majestic, lie in forgotten but elegant decay. The sheer weight of loss is hard to deny – this was once a jewel of a powerful and learned civilization, struck down by an offended god who never once spoke to his people.
A deep booming laughter echoes through the exposed and weathered halls. It reminds you of the noise of storm waves crashing against a massive rock. Rounding one last corner, you come to a neglected throne room, filled with a motley court of young gillmen. Towering above all others in front of the throne is a massive giant, sporting coral armor similar to the others…though you do not know where he ends and his armor begins. The fool of the court, an over-painted gillwoman, prances out of the way as you enter, and the laughter gives way to shrewd smiles and looks of interest.
In a voice booming like crashing waves, the Sea Giant King of Bathyal spoke to the gathered party:
“I am Krossbyr, duly elected king of Bathyal. You arrive at the cusp of glory adventurers, for we seek to reclaim the lost city in the name of the kingdom. Are you here to lend your sword to our cause?”
The party learns that Krossbyr rules over a tribe of gillmen seeking to reclaim the lost city of Xxiphu under the new name Bathyal. They authorize excursions into the fallen city in exchange for half of the wealth found there. Additionally, the party learns that the pretender gods have arrived at the city ahead of them. The party agrees to the terms and ventures into the fallen city…
Huge marble Samsaran faces tower before you, neglected, defaced, and forgotten among the ruined halls. Their empty eyes stare blankly ahead, their stoic countenance lending a sense of ancient respect to the desolation. The scent of sea and the sound of running water are ever present.
In the buried halls, the party encounters Botilda, a Grodair who has been tasked by Hextor and Erathis to drain the catacombs of their water…for a time. Apparently, the creature remembers an embarrassment inflicted upon it by the first age Goddess of Hope and agreed to help the pretender gods in exchange for help in case the opportunity for revenge ever presents itself.
After a peaceful interaction, the party presses forward, into a massive ancient hall where an expedition force left behind by Hextor tries to block their way. Battle ensues, and the force is no match for the growing power of the new gods.