Whats in your eyes?
What do you see?
What does the world look like
when your eyes are so empty?
Do you know what you’re doing?
Can you understand?
Do you see anything
beyond your haunted dreamland?
Can you hear what you say?
Can you see the damage you’ve done?
Do you know that other people hear
and you’re not the only one
Do you see your scars?
Do you see your blood?
Have your senses gone numb?
Have your feelings all rotted?
Do you see the fear?
In your own empty shell?
You’re going insane
You’ve created your own Hell
Whats in your eyes?
What do you see?
What does the world look like
when your eyes are so empty?
— Lauren Turner
The officers of the Doomplum returned to Moonplum to find that the villagers had abandoned the safety of the barracks and were again massed along the shore, this time with more than two dozen glaze-eyed villagers tied up, including the commander of the garrison. Margaret formerly-Allingham was the first to spot them walking in, beat up and sans horses, and quickly intercepted Caddis.
“What the fuck have you done with my husbands?!” she demanded.
Caddis took stock of the situation and reiterated his previous explanation — that there was a monster out at sea that was assaulting the villagers minds, but that they had returned with a weapon to defeat it. Gullible as ever, Margaret and the other villagers bought it and Caddis ordered all of the tied-up villagers to be loaded on the ship (for their own protection).
Once everyone was aboard, the Doomplum sailed out to meet the Vengeance. Once out of sight of land, the two ship’s pulled alongside each other, extended a gangplank, and allowed the entranced villagers to walk over. As soon as the villagers came in proximity of Doña Teresa, their faces immediately brightened and they happily went to work aboard the ship, chatting and joking as if nothing were amiss. They remained out at sea for a few hours, firing off the cannons a few times to give the impression of a battle, then sailed both ships back to the village, with the enthralled Moonplummers waving happily from the Vengeance’s rigging.
While they were out, the Crone approached Captain Caddis and the others, bearing a small piece of Leo’s demonic form, and informed them that she had a spell that could bring him back yet again. With the groups approval, she went below and worked her magic. Soon, she came back up with a tiny bat-eared creature in tow. While most of the crew seemed off-put by their sailing master now being some kind of gremlin, Zarina, who had always been fond of Leo, seemed inordinately happy about his new, diminutive form.
Back at dock, Caddis made a speech about how the “sea monster” was slain and how the grateful villagers, freed from their enchantment, had “volunteered” to serve aboard their sister-ship. He then made the pitch to the others, and, given how happy the “volunteers” on the Vengeance looked, combined with all the tales of adventure, profit, and success they’d thrown around the last couple of days, nearly eighty more villagers quickly signed up. Caddis’ younger sister, Deborah was among the volunteers, and since Jessica refused to let him turn her away, he brought his mother aboard as well.
The few days were spent sorting out the logistics of taking on more than a hundred new hands on the two ships — loading up food supplies, loading up their personal goods, finding bunks for everyone, and migrating most of the veteran sailors (i.e. the people used to working with obvious demons) over to the Vengeance. There were also issues raised with who was volunteering, as, in a small village like Moonplum, it is hard to abscond with a fifth of the population without breaking up a few families and significantly harming the local economy.
Meanwhile, the officers of the two ships, including The Crone, who had been promoted as the new Quartermaster aboard the Doomplum, and Sandara, who had taken over as the Sailing Master aboard the Red Vengeance met to plan their next voyage. Leo broke out his maps, showing the treasures left by Captain Herrera and the nereid Amphitrite. Caddis reminded everyone of the prophecy spoken by Captain Pegsworthy when he re-christened their ship: “Good fortune and sure sail await one what can crack the Tidewater Rock."
Sandara suggested that the Book of Resurrection had pointed to two more masks in close proximity to each other somewhere to the north and west. For lack of a consensus on any other destination, Caddis made the decision that they should continue to pursue collecting the masks.
With the various arguments, planning, and preparations done, and everyone who was going loaded aboard, the Doomplum and Red Vengeance returned to the sea accompanied by much music, farewells, and a mixture of crying and jubilation from their novice crews.
With Sandara and the Red Vengeance in the lead, they sailed forth in search of the next masks. At the Crone’s suggestion, they sailed northwest towards Manus Island, then tacked east for half a day to better triangulate the location of the masks. Doing calculations based on Sandara’s headings, Leo was able to estimate the location of the masks as about 1300 miles to the northwest, about half way between the islands of Palau and Guam.
Following Leo’s directions and Sandara’s magical guidance, they sailed for six days before arriving at a small island. Circling the island in search of a place to make port, they noticed numerous large, queer statues looming over the shores, like great heads with blank faces and empty eye sockets. Thaduk said that it was known as the “Island of Empty Eyes”, and that Imperial colonists had once tried to build a fort there years ago, only to vanish without a trace.
The island was not large, and, from circling it, they estimated that both masks were located somewhere in the island’s north-central highlands. They found a secluded deep-water cover on the north-west side of the island, nestled amid mangrove swamps and sailed in with the intent to drop anchor. Sailing in, however, they noticed huge stone pylons rising out of the water from the small bay’s shore, as well as the framing of a massive, ancient dock, half-submerged in the water.
Caddis ordered the Red Vengeance to drop anchor and had Sandara come over to the Doomplum, then ordered Zarina to take to the air. From the air, they were able to see much of the island — from the tumbled palisades of the failed colony and a large sunken ship in the southern bay, to the strangely massive pre-colonial stone bridges spanning the islands rivers, to the strange circular stones propped in long lines in various places. Most importantly, they saw the crumbling stone ruins of an ancient city atop the highest hill — towards which Sandara’s spell pointed them.
As they flew over the island, a lookout spotted some large things flying in their direction from the northeastern summit off their starboard side, nearly a dozen of them. As they neared, the crew were able to make out massive featherless bird-like creatures with crested heads and thirty-foot wingspans — pterosaurs.
They were moving fast, much too fast for the novice crew to likely get a shot off as they closed, so Caddis ordered Riaris to load a port broadside. As the gargantuan bird-things flew past they raked the topsails and plucked five crewmen from the rigging. As soon as they were past and at range, Riaris called for the full broadside to be unleashed. The timing and aim were off, but a few shots struck home, and the noise and flash disoriented the pterosaurs, sending most of the flock scattering — either dropping the snagged crewmen to their deaths or flying off with their prey to eat in safety.
Three of the creatures managed to wheel about for another pass. Thaduk scrambled up into the rigging to meet them, and, as they passed, lower this time, aiming for the meaty things on deck, he dropped from the rigging onto the back of one, his nearly thousand-pound frame snapping the creatures spine and dropping it like a rock to the deck. The other two managed to snag another crewman, but were caught in the area of a deep slumber spell from Captain Caddis and tumbled out of the sky.
Caddis ordered that the head be cut from the one Thaduk had downed, and had it mounted as a trophy in his cabin. The Crone, had the body dragged below where she and the cooks and surgeons had it taxidermied and treated with ointments to be used as part of her flying hex — because a giant pterosaur glider is much more terrifying than a broom could ever be.
They flew in over the city, marveling at the immense stone buildings, which stood dark, silent, and weathered by the test of time. Sandara indicated that the largest of the buildings housed both of the masks. At first, they looked for a place to set the ship down, then remembered that the keel would not allow them to land. Zarina flew the ship directly over the indicated building and the crew lowered ropes.
Caddis, Fiona, Adriana, Thaduk, Leo, the Crone, and Sandara let themselves over the side and rappelled down. Or, that was the plan at least. As soon as they were over the side, Thaduk lost his grip and plummeted to the roof, smashing right through. The others watched as he fell through…slowly…very slowly. As soon as he broke through the roof, his fall was arrested and he drifted gently down into a large, ovular chamber (of course, the impact with the roof hurt about as much as you might expect). Looking down into the chamber, they saw Thaduk trying to get up, but moving as if in super slow-motion, backlit by a strange, pulsating orange light.
One by one, they dropped down through the hole Thaduk had left, falling gently to the floor. Gently, that is, except for the Crone who tried, and failed, to do a back-flip and landed on her head. The chamber below was huge — hundreds of feet long — and dominated by a raised dais in the center, on which stood a pair of massive statues, flanking a pedestal on which rested a face-mask of golden crystal, from which the light was emanating.
The statues, of course, moved. And, as they neared, their speed apparently not impeded by whatever force was slowing our heroes’ movements, it became clear that they were not statues, but gigantic beings wrapped in funereal cloths, embalmed standing upright, with swords in hand.
Thinking quick, despite her head injury, the Crone awakened the earth, causing the ground to start pulling the creatures down into itself. With the creatures held, at least temporarily, everyone scattered.
Thaduk ran for a pair of large brass doors, and put his shoulder into it. To no avail. Again, and again, he tried, as Sandara, Adriana, and Caddis caught up to him. Finally Caddis made it to the door and, pulling lightly, opened them, revealing complete and utter blackness. A darkness so deep that not even Adriana’s darkvision could penetrate it. Seeing the giant mummies about to free themselves, they rushed forward into the darkness, but not before Thaduk rushed the dais and grabbed the mask.
The Crone, meanwhile, dimension doored back to the roof, hopped on her taxidermied, headless ptero-glider, and flew back up to the Doomplum. As she flew, she called a volcanic storm of burning rocks down on the entrapped giants, smashing and burning open the roof of an entire side of the huge building. Back on the deck, she called for Riaris to load a broadside and fire on the giant mummies (now easily visible through the blasted and burning roof). With a thundering report, the creatures were blown to tiny bits.
The cannonade also flattened the southern wall of the vast chamber, revealing a treasure-filled vault beyond. The Crone, in her new role as Quartermaster, ordered the ship to descend. Zarina dropped the Doomplum to hover directly over the hole in the roof. Ropes were lowered, and swabs swarmed out of the ship to begin sifting through the rubble and hauling loads of gold, and silver, and jewels back aboard.
Caddis and the others, meanwhile, stumbled around in the darkened room beyond the brass doors. Just as no light penetrated, likewise was there no sound, like a vast sensory-deprivation chamber. Caddis and Adriana both stuck out their arms and headed for the nearest wall, one turning to the left, the other to the right. Thaduk felt a familiar tap on his shoulder and resumed his unicorn form, allowing Sandara to climb up on his back, and, with gentle tugs on his mane, guide him out.
Thaduk and Sandara came out into a long, wide corridor. Thaduk passed golden Sandara the mask, gripped in his teeth, and she held it up to her face, shuddering at the soul-wrenching power of the thing. Suddenly, Thaduk felt an immense surge of speed, and, directed by Sandara, went galloping up the corridor at breakneck speed in search of the second mask. Rounding a corner, they came upon a half-dozen well-armed, gigantic, one-eyed, humanoid creatures. Thaduk skidded out, turned a one-eighty and headed back the other way.
Just then, Caddis and Adriana came stumbling out of the door to see the large, demonic Thaduk charging in their general direction. Fixing the demonic unicorn with his evil eye, Caddis put Thaduk to sleep mid-stride. The beast collapsed, skidded to a stop face-first, and sent Sandara flying off of his back to be caught by Adriana. Only then did the captain see the huge creatures that Thaduk had been running from.
Hearing the commotion, the Crone hopped on her ptero-glider and went north through the great chamber, coming out into the far end of the hallway, opposite where the cyclopes were coming from. Another volcanic storm slowed the things down, giving Adriana time to wake up Thaduk and the two of them to charge the giants. Thaduk ran in full speed, skidded on the piles of ash, ricocheted off a wall, and plowed sideways into one of the giants, sending it sprawling into two more. Thaduk and the three giants sprawled in a heap, lashing out with fists and hooves and horns. The battle was short and bloody, with both Adriana and Thaduk moving supernaturally fast thanks to Sandara’s new mask.
To be continued…
Experience and Rewards:
- See The Doomplum for updated experience totals.
- 1 taxidermied headless Pterosaur (with a 30-ft. wingspan)
- net of snaring, a pearl of power (3rd level), a rod of wonder, a potion of neutralize poison, a scroll of divination, a wand of summon monster IV (23 charges remaining)
- Sandara is currently wearing the Eye of Serenity
- Leo is back…as a Gremlin (Zarina thinks he’s a lot cuter at this size)