Several months ago a cargo and passenger ship sailing from Varisia to Sargava sank just shy of the Sargavan port of Eleder. Despite being poisoned beforehand, several passengers survived the wreck only to find themselves stranded on an inhospitable jungle island.
- The Captain and his romantic interest, a Pathfinder named Ieana, had poisoned the evening meal that last night. The first mate and the few others who hadn’t eaten fought to prevent them from sailing the ship toward The Shiv, a small island ringed by treacherous reefs and considered too dangerous to approach. The first mate and his men were unsuccessful. The hull was breached near the island and the Captain and Ieana had gone ashore by rowboat. The first mate had managed to row a few survivors ashore before dying of his injuries and poison.
- While tracking down the Captain, the survivors discovered that the island was home to a tribe of cannibals. The Captain’s trail led straight to their village which was built in the ruins of an old settlement containing a lighthouse that could be used to signal passing ships.
- The cannibals were the inbred degenerate survivors of a lost ship from the Chelish armada that tried to retake Sargava some 70-80 years back. The shipwrecked survivors pulled together with a little warning from a friendly dryad and annihilated the cannibals. The dryad also mentioned that Ieana had left heading East, but the Captain must still be in the village.
- The cannibal village was centered around a covered hole in the ground opening into a natural cavern system. It was obviously of religious significance and it appeared the cannibals regarded it as an entry to the underworld/afterlife. The castaways went in to track down the Captain. Afterlife for the cannibals turned out to be conversion into aquatic ghouls and the caves were overrun with them including the Captain who had been given to the ghouls by Ieana and had written his shame out in blood while his body changed, including the fact that he had been mentally dominated by Ieana for months.
- The caverns also connected to an ancient subterranean temple filled with snake motifs. This had been Ieana’s goal all along and appeared to predate Earthfall. (~10,000 years previously) Inside a small and heavily warded room the Pathfinder had cleaned and used pigments to enhance the writing (in Aklo) covering one panel of the walls. Each panel referred to the domain of a serpent lord on the island and the method for activating the defensive magic of the obelisk each was equipped with. Ieana had repaired a panel referring to the Tidestone- capable of drastically dropping the sea level around the island to dash approaching ships on the rocks and sink them when the water rushed back. Each panel had a later hasty addition noting the fall of the serpent lord to the Azlanti. The last panel was hastily scrawled on the back of the door and is a good example of why ancient Aklo is difficult to translate. Many words share dual meanings and they use descriptive phrases in place of many words common to Taldane:
The Abundant Slavemen Shoeshod/Chainhanded Rise
In Breaking Wave-Ever-Breaking Against [We].
Deprivation Abounds/Shall Abound.
In Victory, Great Loss. In Retreat, Proposed,
Query: Better to Burnsphere Sunworld with Plague/Storm?
Or to Sleep-And-In-Sleep-Replenish
While Poor New Masters of Slaves Falter?
The Stars [Shall Turn] Right Again.
Sleep or Fight, to Ilmurea I Flee.
-Typhonia, High Priest of Our Coiled Lord
- Ieana’s panel contained enough geographical details to find the Tidestone. Some of the castaways stayed on to repair the lighthouse while the others set out to capture or kill Ieana and prevent her from potentially wrecking any approaching rescue ships with the Tidestone. The domain the serpent lord ruling over the Tidestone turned out to have been conquered and repurposed by the Azlanti after their invasion, but these were clearly members of some kind of evil blood drinking cult. The older serpent iconography was mostly defaced and resculpted into long fanged bats, iconography associated with the Demon Queen Zura who had been an Azlanti noble in life. Long dead serpentfolk still stood as undead guardians long after the Azlanti who created them had died.
- Gelik, Treebeb, Zeriks and the other castaways confronted Ieana in the temple where they learned that she was actually one of the (previously thought to be extinct) serpentfolk named Yarssoth. They forced her to flee, but she didn’t have time to retrieve all of her things. The journal she left behind was filled with notes she had managed to decipher from her findings in the temple. The Azlanti blood cult here were exiles from an Azlanti city known as Saventh-Yhi (or Savith’s Grave) and they had retreated here to build their power and transform themselves with rituals before a planned return to Saventh-Yhi as conquerers. Because the way home had been erased from their minds on exile they had set out planning to use an astrological scrying facility known as the Pillars of Light to find the path.