As dark clouds began forming on the horizon, Sinbreena’s djinn found an Animate Dead spell, and she put it to good use on the slain crew. Ten of the charred corpses rose and, able to understand simple commands, managed to perform rudimentary crew tasks such as rowing. The ship set off away from the rocks to get its bearings, as the party considered an undersea expedition to find the ruins of the lost city of the thunder lizards.
Storm clouds were rapidly approaching, and the waves rose to great swells. But just then, the ship lurched violently under their feet! The party spilled to the deck. From below decks could be heard a terrified scream! Something had smashed into the ship from below, tearing a ragged 4’ hole in the hull, and water was gushing in fast! Quick-thinking Taliyana commanded that a zombie be folded in two and stuffed into the hole, then magically Enlarged to fill the breach while more permanent repair materials could be found. The now fat zombie groaned piteously, but held fast. Nevertheless, again the ship lurched, and this time a crack fractured the hull on the other side, leaking more water.
“Full ahead!” shouted Captain Dan, as the party rushed back up to the deck. Biff and Korog were making ready to dive overboard to determine the source of the attack, as the wind howled and water sprayed their faces. Was it some foul kraken of the deep? They tethered themselves with rope, and Sinbreena imbued them with the temporary ability to Breathe under water, and they dove over.
Sin took to the air, hovering over the choppy waters and peering down, hoping for some glimpse of whatever horror from the deep was after them. Suddenly it seemed as though the storm clouds glowered at Sinbreena with spite, as a tendril of black cloud whipped at her from the sky, swatting her down and plunging her into the roiling sea! But that couldn’t be the case, who ever heard of a spiteful cloud? That would be absurd. It must have been some arbitrary gust of wind that just happened to catch her off guard, right? Riiiight?!? But then another tendril slapped at Taliyana on the deck, ramming her hard into the railing, and this was followed by a sparking streak of lightning surging into her! Fortunately, she had a layer of Stone Skin that was blasted off, and she was otherwise unharmed. A second bolt struck Tosh though, singeing the poor halfling and prompting him to tumble down belowdecks after Sylas and Rocky and Dan, all fleeing the storm-tossed elements.
In the relative quiet below the surface, Biff and Korog searched about for the cause of the ship’s damage. Before long they detected a massive shape growing in the distance… it revealed itself to be a megalodon, a giant-sized shark! Korog tried to scream but was muffled by the water. Biff though relaxed and concentrated, persuading the beast through some kind of uncanny telepathy that it had better prospects elsewhere. It circled around and swam away back into the deep!
Meanwhile up above Taliyana struggled to her feet and composed herself, then glared up at the storm clouds. Sensing some malevolent presence, she shrieked her defiance at it and loosed a massive fireball straight upwards. Some few hundred feet in the sky it detonated, and there was an unearthly howling sound. A second bolt of lightning surged downwards into Taliyana, shearing off more Stone Skin, and then yet another black gust of wind rushed in at her, bodily lifting her up off the deck and hurling her into the sea with what almost seemed like vengeance. Fortunately, Sinbreena had surfaced, and flew over to where Taliyana had gone under, plunging back under to grab the elf and bear her back up to the surface, into the air, and then heaving her, sputtering, back up onto the deck of the ship. Sin now sensed the storm elemental too, raised her fire ring, and willed her own fiery explosion in the heart of the black clouds! KA-THOOOM. Another howl was heard.
Taliyana fired more magic spells upward, and gradually the winds and lightning began to abate. Captain Dan called “Land Ho!” and indeed the ship, despite taking on water, was coming up to a small island at great speed as it came out the storm. Sin flew up on ahead to find a safe landing spot so repairs could be made to the ship. But as they slid through the waves, closer and closer, Sin couldn’t calculate an appropriate angle. She must’ve been distracted by the seagulls wheeling about overhead. She flew frantically to and fro, signalling first this way then that, but Captain Dan couldn’t understand her plan (if she had one). He signaled the zombies at the oars to reverse, trying desperately to slow down, but to no avail! The ship ran aground, crashing violently on the rocks and caving in the front quarter of the hull. The party all spilled out onto the beach, bruised and soggy but thankful to be on solid ground.
The next few hours were spent securing the wrecked ship, unloading supplies, hunting for food and gathering healing herbs, and erecting a Secure Shelter to spend the night in. The party finally collapsed in exhaustion inside, as the untiring zombies stood guard outside and felled a few trees for wood in case of the need to repair or build a new ship.
Next morning the party mounted an expedition up the shore, inland towards what seemed to be a small central mountain. Hiking through the vegetation, they came to a large clearing in which had been neatly laid one hundred humanoid skeletons! There were ten rows and ten columns of gleaming white bone. Odd. Tali poked one, but it remained inert, so the party eventually decided just to move on. Further up the slopes a second grid of 100 skeletons was discovered, though these appeared to have been shod in iron. They too lay unmoving, in precisely arranged rows. Finally, even further up, yet a third phalanx of skeletons had been laid out, these too shod in iron, but these each had gleaming weapons, oiled and in good condition, laying next to them: axes, spears, swords, and the like. Things were getting curiouser and curiouser!
Further up the slope from this 3rd phalanx could be seen the entrance to a hall, built into the mountain. The party continued to ascend to this entrance, at which point a pair of great bronze doors creaked open seemingly automatically. The party paused to consider and inspect the area, but then boldly trudged in through the open doors. They entered a cavernous hall, apparently of exquisite dwarven architecture. Statues of great warriors and fearsome monsters punctuated the intricate geometric designs carved in the walls. A few held torches, illuminating the path ahead which lead to another set of gleaming bronze doors. These too creaked open.
The party stepped through into a great throne room, which was so large that the rear of it would have been shrouded in darkness if it weren’t for the two giant 20’ tall skeletons with bonfires blazing in their chests, who stood flanking a raised stone dias with a marble throne atop it. Perched on the throne was a black-robed figure, who now stood as the party hesitantly inched in. The figure was a tall, gaunt, pallid human male with steely eyes. He threw his arms outward in a magnanimous gesture of welcome, and his voice boomed a courteous greeting. He clapped his hands, and from the shadows lining the room, a team of human skeletons scuttled out, carrying trestle tables, chairs, and platters of food and wine, placing them before the throne dias. The figure introduced himself as Ras’Nassi, a lich lord and self-described demi-god. They party cautiuosly sat and began eating the dubious fare, while they listened to his story. It seems that he knew of their quest, and had a deal for them. He was interested in recovering an artifact of the thunder lizards known as the “Death Key” and in exchange for the party retrieving this from the undersea lair of the Reef Lord, he would transport them back in time to when the island of the thunder lizards was still intact so they could collect the Tablet of Fate before it gets destroyed. After some discussion, they agreed to the deal, and went back to their shelter on the coast for the night.