As the BAdasses closed the door to the foreboding ziggurat, only one option remained in their minds: run! Bakaruda led the way with the rest of the party in tow. Behind them, they could hear the frenzied gurgling of the Koatoa mob rushing to catch up. At every turn, the maniacal calls came louder. “Faster!” called the paladin, urging the rest of the troupe onward, his ragged breathing betraying the weariness he felt. Baylea and BArannis ran onwards, both stoic with concentration and focus on the endeavors ahead. Baehrface, however, began to fall behind, his breath coming in gasps. Despite his best efforts, the run was catching up to him. Up the stairs they continued, still trying to shrug off the injuries they sustained in their last confrontation with the statue of Blipdoolboop.
Just before Baehrface thought he would throw up, they made it back to the two ornate doors before the gargantuan mollusk.
“Let’s barricade them!” he said, happy for the brief reprieve. Bakaruda and BArranis both pushed with all the strength they had left. The creaky hinges groaned and protested before finally giving way and sliding into their closed state. Swift as the spring wind, Baylea rigged the doors closed, adding precious minutes to their lead.
Around the next bend, just above the stairs before the ruined city, more blathering sounded. “More Koatoa,” warned Bakaruda. “They’re talking about a battle they just fought,” translated the halfing monk. Baehrface signalled for the rest of the party to hide and without another word, they took positions around the abandoned city and prepared their ambush. Within seconds, a group of Koatoa emerged carrying a prisoner. More than a dozen of the frog-men were celebrating their recent victory. Distracted though, they fell easy prey to the experienced adventurers. Bakaruda charged out, steel singing through the air. BArranis rained fire and ice from the surrounding air. Baehrface and Baylea changed together, fists, feet , and daggers flying around the room. Within seconds, the frog-men were dispatched and their prisoner freed.
“Who are you?” questioned Bakaruda. The newcomer was dressed in fine leather armor, and expensive garb. His hands were bound in woven seaweed. “My name is Baelik. Please untie me!” The dragonborn paladin was skeptical at first but just then, they heard pounding on the ornate doors. “They won’t hold for long,” chirped in the little green goblin, “we should go.” Still not without hesitation, Bakaruda cut free the fetters that held the human captive. “Wait! My crossbow!” cried Baelik, running for his stolen equipment. He quickly snatched up the ornate crossbow and a quiver of varied bolts and they continued their ascent toward the surface.
On the way, they saw several more bodies. “Oh no,” cried Baylea, “they didn’t make it.” The bodies of the surviving prisoners were strewn about them. Sadness found its way into the weary adventurer’s hearts. Bitterness turned into ashes in their mouths. “My team was captured too,” said Baelik, “I was hoping we could rescue them.” With heavy hearts, the party denied their newest companion. “It’s too dangerous. The best thing we can do is get back to the town and see if we can get more help,” answered Baehr.
Again, they made their way back, the distant calls of enraged Koatoa advancing on their position. When it seemed like they were right on their heels, the party finally made it to Akelos’ lighthouse. With a level of efficiency borne from desperation, they barricaded the cellar door leading to the underground river and breathed a sigh of relief.
On the precipice of the lighthouse, the deva stood awaiting their return. Despite their exhausted state, they were determined to warn the people of Lochport about the dangers that awaited them. They told Akelos about the Koatoa, and gave him an egg for study. Akelos eagerly took the sample and filed it away for further study later. BArranis revealed the golden puzzle piece and piqued the angelborn’s interest.
“I have knowledge of such things,” chimed in Baelik, “let me see.” Without hesitation, the wizard turned over the prized artefact. Baelik rotated the golden jigsaw around in his hands, feeling the intricate work that had gone into its construction. “Yes, yes,” he declared, “I can definitely tell it’s magical.”
“…” rest of the party.
With Akelos on the same level as the adventurers, they made their way back into the heart of the city. To their relief the flood levels had gone down and efforts had gone into raising barriers to protect the city. As they came closer, they found Xazu, the cleric of Bahamut who had led them to the lighthouse in the first place. He explained that they should keep their distance from the city until such a time as they would be acquitted of their charges. He took their report and came back with supplies for the adventurers. “I have a place where you can stay. It’s with some friends of mine.” The party stayed inside the barn, as their preference was for more rustic accommodations. Baelik, however, was of a more soft disposition and insisted on sleeping upon a mattress, depriving their hosts of their bed.
In the night, the moon rose to its glory and Baehrface found a new transformation. After years of being a lycan, he found the control to create a new form, one of half goblin, half bear. Excited about his newfound powers, he woke up his companions inside the barn. His chattering was interrupted by terrified screams coming from around them.
They rushed to see what was happening. Apparently, the flood had come again, in full force. Tides were washing inward and with it came terror. They found where people were gathering and offered their services. Their old nemesis, Captain Trevan was already there. “What are you doing here?” he demanded, “I thought you knew to stay away until your trial!” Baehrface, barely holding back his animosity replied with caustic venom, “In case you haven’t noticed, Captain Dickweed, this is an emergency.”
“Nonsense,” replied the arrogant captain, “this happens every night.” His haughty reply was cut short by the sound of one of his delegates drowning in his own blood as a harpoon caught him in the throat. Around them, appearing out of the dark waters, were dozens and dozens of Koatoa fighters. Without another word, the adventurers sprung into action. Swords, magic missiles, daggers, and monks flew about cutting down the frog-men. Trevan’s men were holding their own but in the distance, a new foe appeared. Climbing slowly out of the dark water, steam hissing from the bubbling water has it rose, was the effigy of Blipdoolboop herself. Black claws reached toward the sky, clamping angrily as the gargantuan crustacean revealed itself in terrifying glory.
“Go!” cried Trevan, “We will hold back these ones.” For once, Baehr did not argue with him. The party briefly considered their alternatives. Meet with this dangerous new foe, or descend into the depths of their lair while they were distracted. BArranis, usually quiet, interceded, “I believe that whatever they have planned in the ziggurat, they have already achieved it.” Thusly, the heroes positioned themselves about what was left of the once busy street, and planned their attack.
BArranis and Baelik took their positions above the roof while the rest of the party took to the ground. They hid beneath the trees until the avatar of Blipdoolboop was near.
“Charge!” screamed the dragonborn knight. Together, they charged in, but the thick chitinous shell proved to be too tough for them. Rogue, monk, and paladin fought together, but none of them were able to find purchase against such a terrible foe. From above the rooftops, Baelik called out orders, pushing for the party to fight on. Blipdoolboop, no longer impressed with the party’s ineffective efforts, began the attack.
With her baleful gaze, she herded the party together and with a clack of her enormous claws, she showered thunder upon the party. From above her, BArranis rained down acid, but to his chagrin, she tore it off angrily and threw it back upon him. With a cleave of her claws, she left both Baylea and Bakaruda brutally wounded, blood spilling from their wounds. Baehrface took the opportunity to climb to her flank and attack the soft human aspect of her side, finally sinking his blade into the hulking behemoth. “Again!” cried Baelik, “Keep attacking!” With terrible vengeance, the avatar pulled the retreating rogue back into her grasp. Once, twice, he evaded her fury, but with a speed faster than he could imagine, steam erupted from within her, knocking him senseless, falling at her feet.
Baylea and Bakaruda, also in the blast, reeled from the attack. Knowing that she would soon fall unconscious from the debilitating pain, Baylea grunted with effort to stay standing.
Knowing the monk and Paladin were tidily in her control, Blipdoolboop turned her attention to the rest of the party on the rooftop. Teleporting next to them, a feat none believed possible, she knocked them off the roof and again thunder shook the city. BArranis took flight, running from the crazed goddess. Baelik found himself on the floor, caged inside the goddess’ prison of elemental magic.
“Help me Baelik!” cried Bakaruda, on his last legs, the avatar’s attacks leaving him bleeding, head spinning, ready to pass out from the pain. Baelik, looked back and forth between the injured paladin and the enormous kraken. “I can get her,” he promised. Baelik took aim, carefully gauging the distance between his quarry and his bolt. His keen eye zeroing in on the vulnerable area between her shoulderblades. With a baited breath, he released the quarrel from the stock and it flew straight at her back. All breath ceased as everyone’s eyes were on the flying shaft. His aim was true, but at the last possible instant, Blipdoolboop’s claw swung back, deflecting the arrow. Bakaruda, unable to endure the pain a moment longer, and witnessing yet another deflected attack by Baelik, fell unmoving to the ground.
Now, unhindered by the paladin, Blipdoolboop was free to follow the frantic wizard on the rooftops. BArranis ran, slowing only to fire meteor and missile at the avatar. He knew that he would not be able to outrun her for long. Still, he ran as fast as his Elven legs would carry him, at the very limits of his endurance. Baylea, still unconscious from the powerful blow dealt to her, began to stir. Where other, less hardy, adventurers would lay dying, she began to center herself, her unconscious mind finding focus. With a steadying breath, she began to regain consciousness. With stern purpose, she opened her eyes, immediately reacting to the danger around her. Without hesitation, she ran to the fallen paladin and fed him his own potion, bringing him back from his downed state. Bakaruda, still battered but not beaten, found his footing again.
Standing again, wounds still bleeding, armor dulled and dented, the dragonborn called out. “Face me foul creature! None can stand before the light!” With a deep roar from within his mighty heart, Bakaruda charged. The avatar of Blipdoolboop turned to face the approaching warrior. With a clack of her claws, she dove in to meet him. Claws descended upon the silvered warrior and with tremendous strength, skill, and timing, he jumped off the enormous claw, flying through the cold night sky, plunging his broadsword deep into her chest.
Water boiled and steam rose from below as the mighty avatar fell. Blackened blood seeped into the water, and evaporated with the steam. Within moments, all that was left of the evil goddess was a bad memory and a litany of scars.
The warriors turned to each other, uplifting those who had fallen and then looked toward the receding water. A light shone through, breaking the silence, blinking at them. Akelos had been watching the whole time. The companions now realized they were surrounded by the people and soldiers of Lochport. With the fall of their goddess, the Koatoa ran. With a cheer full of hope, jubilant in victory, the people of Lochport received their champions, lifting their worn spirits.