Do Not Bite the Hand that Frees You
Slowly, the old man descends from the rooftop, and as soon as he stops chanting the storm begins to abate. The tribesmen raise a plank and the old man walks towards the ship. Percival and the crew draw arms, and the party readies themselves to fight the man off, but he calmly extends his hand to Percival and pushes his weapon down. He gestures for them to step off the ship towards the village; Percival and the party follow, and Percival commands Heglin and the crew to fight at the first sign of danger, but not before. The man leads them into the house he had previously been atop.
Inside there is a small fire crackling, and the man gestures for all to be seated. Minutes pass in silence before the man opens his eyes, which are milky white, and greets them. He introduces himself as Anteos, and apologizes for bringing them here. He goes on to explain that the village has been terrorized for several days by a creature of the deep, possessing powerful magic, which has been stealing members of the village out of their homes in the middle of the night. He tells the party that this is their fault, and details specifically that they have freed this aboleth and allowed it to come here. Based on the specificity of his information, the party knows he is not bluffing or trying to trick them. He requests that the party set to rights what they have allowed to happen, admitting that if they do not help then he will not be powerful enough by himself to protect the village.
Sim, Lawrence, and Khaber all immediately agree with the man, but Petra is less than convinced. She refuses to take blame for what has happened, but does say that she will kill the aboleth for its assault on her. The party uses the remainder of the day to set up an elaborate nightfall trap for the aboleth, with very specific orders for each member of the party and the villagers, to ensure that they will have a chance against its powerful magics.
At nightfall, they spot the aboleth near the village. Rather than use the same head-on attack strategy, he elects to use magics from a distance, focusing mostly on Sim, who had insulted him earlier. His powers are insufficient, so he is forced to show himself; this triggers the party’s strategy. Using all the tools at their disposal, including Lawrence’s new sorcerery, Petra’s shapeshifting and spells, Sim’s tools and the silver sword from Markham’s mansion, Khaber’s strength and fighting prowess, as well as the cannons from the ship and the tools of the village, the party quickly subdues the aboleth. Sensing his impending death, the aboleth miraculously manages to cast a teleport spell, but the simultaneous full assault of blows from Sim, Khaber, and Lawrence causes him to die all the same.
The victory against the beast is short-lived. Based on their research of aboleth anatomy and behavioral patterns, they know that the villagers who were taken previously are all physically altered by the aboleth’s slime. Though his death freed them from their thralldom, they still require divine aid in order to have their bodies fully cleansed so that they can return to their normal lives. Since she feels no blame for this situation, Petra does not immediately offer her help, but since it is the work of an aberration, she also feels that its taint must be removed. She prays to Kossuth for guidance, and her god refuses to grant her the powers to remove their diseases on the spot. Taking this as her moral compass, Petra says that she cannot afford to spend the amount of time it would take for her to remove all their disease, and instead offers to purify the taken villagers with fire. Anteos strongly refuses, and uses his storm magic to incapacitate the former thralls so that they can be detained at the piers.
The party brainstorms alternate ways to cleanse the villagers, finally deciding that the only achievable method would be to find a temple in Waterdeep, and purchase a wand of remove disease to send back to the village. Anteos thanks the party for their concern and says that he will send a villager with them on the ship to Waterdeep.
The party spends one more day on the island to make preparations to sail and to give last rites to the crew members who died in the fight with the aboleth. Lawrence uses the time to forage for herbs and hunt with Woolf, while Sim and Petra seek out the aboleth’s lair. There they find a multitude of human bones as well as another blue portal like the one in the underground ruins. Remembering its healing powers, they inform Anteos of it upon returning to the village.
They make ready to leave the island, and say their farewells to Anteos. He presents them all with handcarved talismans of the goddess Mistra, and wishes them luck in Waterdeep. They ask him to use his magics, if possible, to locate Arturus and find out what he is doing; he says he will do that for them and send the message as soon as he is able.
With Waterdeep a mere three days’ journey away, they pull anchor and set sail.