The battle with the adventurer band assembled by Erathis and Hextor is brief and brutal. Only a single member of the opposing party managed to escape – diving into the water pooled at the bottom of the massive chamber.
The chill air is heavy with the salty scent of the sea spiced with the acrid stench of burnt flesh. The steam from Graver’s magical fire refuses to disburse, and instead seems to writhe with a life of its own in the breezes created by the water features of the room and feeding on the clouds of breath escaping from your mouths.
The party picks over the remains of their foolish challengers, and soon sets off in pursuit of the pretender gods…
Venturing behind the massive marble statue of a long-forgotten Samsaran, you see obvious signs that another party has ventured ahead of you. A wide set of bronze double doors, heavily crusted with a brilliant turquoise patina, lay wide open. By all rights, that simple fact should mean that this chamber should be flood with seawater, but it is not.
Beyond the door you see a tunnel bored through the water as if it was solid. An dim, eerie, neon blue light shimmers and reflects of the reflective surface of the water walls and ceiling, rippling as if churned by some unseen force. Totems cascading with energy are the source of light, and presumably the source of the tunnel as well. Through the water walls, you can see the tunnel curves, meandering its way through the broken streets of sunken Xxiphu. The dim and indistinct shapes of dilapidated buildings frame the mystical passage on both sides and nearly 200 feet above the water’s true surface looks similar to a much closer skysea.
Venturing bravely into the water tunnel, the party engaged a cadre of Kapoacinths (water gargoyles) looking for an easy meal. The creatures were cunning and attacked the totems creating the water tunnel when the battle turned against them. Even so, our heroes prevailed and trudged on deeper into the Samasaran/Aboleth ruins.
The tunnel of air snaking along the bottom of the sea and through the ruins of Xxiphu terminates just ahead at the threshold of a large domed building. Relief washes over you at the sight – the air of the tunnel has scratched at the necessary moisture of your lungs for too long.
The building’s entrance is framed by a half-closed set of thick adamantine double doors. Carved shapes of strange fish-like creatures in alien vistas seem to tug at your basest animal instincts, urging you to run away and cast aside your sanity. The other door is colored differently – a much darker tarnished black, and is mostly hacked away – leaving only a bit of the door still within the frame. A strange mechanical device sits on the floor next to the door; it’s covered in prongs and needles, and sports a glass bulb with a silvery liquid inside.
The party concluded that the device was an apparatus designed to apply the fluid of a philosopher’s stone to the adamantine door – thus alchemically transmuting it into a softer substance. Beyond the breached door…
Inside, the eerie blue light of the water tunnel gives way to the orange warmth of large fires burning in braziers. The alien chill is less here in a physical sense, though metaphysically no fire could burn away the foreboding you feel starting at the dilapidated building at the center of the dome. You can hear soft chanting within.
In short order, the party is confronted again by the former goddess of civilization – Erathis. True to form, she spends some time in hiding, spouting a petulant monologue about how unworthy they are to possess their deific gifts and how the contents of Xxiphu’s vault will let her take their squandered power from them. At that, she reveals herself, upgraded again by Dumathoin and wreathed in magic. The battle is longer than before, but still she is trounced. To add insult to injury, the party glues her – face down – the the floor of the ancient building with some sovereign glue.