So the good news is that we survived! The bad news is that we may have attracted the attention of an ancient and eldritch creature from beyond mortal ken. This is a standard risk in our line of business, however, so you shouldn’t be terribly surprised by it.
The locked doors opened to a dash of water spilled against them and led us into a medium sized chamber. Two lightning runes barred our path forward but the ground hugging the walls could be safely traveled. There were also two large mosaics on either side of the chamber, ones that depicted truly horrific creatures.
The first was tall and misshapen, a grotesquely broad-shouldered beast sporting two snarling baboon heads, tentacled arms, and a long, sinuous tail that curved in on itself, standing in a sea of red flames. It was frozen as if screaming, a wizard caught in its grasp being pulled forth to be consumed. The image was clearly of the Demogorgon.
The other didn’t share the same dramatics but was no less disquieting. Drawn in blues and greys, it showed a creature lurking on the abyssal sea floor. Myriad limbs curled around the lost wrecks of ships and its gaping maw stretched wide, as if to swallow anyone observing the mosaic whole. Not something you want to find in a dark alley, that is, though I suppose it’s unlikely to do so unless said dark alley is under the ocean.
Speaking of, what do you know of Atlantis? I ask for reasons.
Also, do you know the name Yeenoghu? I ask for other reasons.
By creeping around the edges of the chamber, we were able to approach an entrance long closed, one sealed by a glyph or ward. Naturally we broke that immediately to peer inside and instantly a voice spoke in our heads saying “why, hello.”
There followed a conversation wherein the creature may or may not have whispered truths about the nature of the multiverse, the past and the future, that which is and yet may be. It could have all been lies, of course. Either way, Yuvgeny’s response to mutter something unrepeatable in polite company combined with something of a disgusted look towards anyone communing with said creature as he went forward to attack.
The creature was an aboleth. At least, it presented on our dimension as one. It lurked at the bottom of a mirk-filled pool (which smelled awful, let me tell you – like rotted fish, old seaweed, and stale air), hidden from view, and even though I cast Faerie Lights, it was barely illuminated for the depths were so deep.
To be quite honest, I missed a majority of the battle that ensued. The creature spun an illusion, one which I wasn’t able to break. Rather embarrassing as I recognized it afterward as one of my own spells: Phantasmal Force.
Ruby was also caught in the spell but was able to rouse himself. Apparently, his wrath was quite impressive to behold. I missed it entirely but the end results were clear: the spell broken, the threads lost, and the aboleth’s form dissolving into slime. As its illusion faded from my mind, I believe I felt a touch of gratitude – I get the impression it had been there, lost and abandoned in that pool, for centuries.
The story doesn’t end there, however. On the other side of the chamber was an altar and held there were the jawbone of an ass, seven broken cords, and a most innocuous box containing an incomplete deck of playing cards.
Yeah, you know what that was. And yes, we drew. Yevgeny gained a brother (did he have one before? do we know whether he did?) but lost all of his non-magical items. Alarmingly, this included his pants. He’s been striding around most nakedly ever since. Of possibly greater concern, he drew another card but did not share the details. Nothing happened directly, but that means little as to its importance.
Also, the druid and I may have accidentally entered into pacts with the aboleth. I know that I did and judging on Kildrak’s reaction (and the whole vanishing bodily, leaving his clothing and gear behind, and reappearing minutes later soaking wet thing), the same happened to him. On the plus side, it seemed rather less aboleth-y (abolethesque? abolethine?) when speaking to it in its own dimension.
It required a pact to be made before it would send me back but there’s nothing to worry about. The terms of the pact are extremely loose and do not require that I take any action whatsoever. It just wants to have the occasional conversation. I get the impression that it was lonely – horrifically, painfully lonely – and an exchange of words alone did not seem too high a price to pay. And truth to tell, it is a most intriguing conversationalist. What it hinted at… There are not words.
It did give one useful bit of advice, however: seek the trail forward either under the seas or past the pyramids. The Ongepotchket are debating which way to proceed now as I await their decision and focus on scrubbing off as much seaweed as possible. (We are going to reek for weeks. There will be nothing enjoyable about the next leg of our journey unless we can quickly find a bathhouse.) The choices are Atlantis or Egypt and, personally, I favor Atlantis. How exactly to make it happen is something we’ll need to figure out but no doubt you are filled to brimming with faith and confidence in our abilities to not completely fuck this up.