Chapter 21 - “I Discovered I Scream The Same Way Whether I'm About To Be Devoured By A Great White Or A Piece Of Seaweed....

... Touches My Foot"

- or -

"Diamondback, catch!"

The sun was hovering at the horizon casting everything in a deep reddish-orange as the mists began to rise.

“Um, hey, guys?” Skald said, nervously, in little more than a whisper. When his companions turned to see what he was on about, he cocked his head back in indication.

About a hundred yards back, vaguely humanoid shapes – shadows, really – were rising out of the Sargasso. Nobody needed a closer look to know what they were. Viselys counted five, six seven… and there were still more forming. It was as if their footprints had triggered some demonic seeds to grow.

“They sure aren’t in any particular hurry,” Diamondback noted.

Viselys squinted a bit as he considered, “Well, I don’t think they’re trying to overtakes us. These things – I’m not sure they even count as creatures – could have formed in front of us or surrounding us if they, or IT, wanted to. No, we’re being herded.”

“Wonderful!” Skald sarcastically expressed.

“Well, at least we know we’re going in the right direction,” Diamondback offered.

“I see two choices: We stop and fight while there are less rather than more of these things, or we press on in the hopes that taking out whatever is at the center of this will render any ancillary fighting unnecessary,” Viselys indirectly solicited feedback.

“Cut off the head and kill the body,” Adameus said, simply, “If we waste our energy pruning the branches, we won’t have enough to attack the roots.”

“And if choking the roots doesn't stop the branches?” Viselys prompted, indicating the forms approaching from behind. He wasn’t really arguing, so much as exploring the option.

“Then hopefully there won’t be any more where they came from and we’ll have limited the number of foes to vanquish,” Admeus replied, thoughtfully, “Of course, if killing whatever we are heading towards doesn’t dissipate this Sargasso, these things won’t have to kill us. We’ll die of starvation and exposure on the Wyvern eventually.”

Viselys nodded, poignantly, “Fair enough. On we go!”

Up ahead, they were clearly heading towards another ship stuck in the island of seaweed, though this one was the farthest “inland” they had discovered so far. About 50’ away from the derelict was a huge open pit in the otherwise solid Sargasso.

“I’m going to head towards the ship. Maybe from the deck I can get a better angle to seeing into the pit,” Adameus offered. Viselys nodded in agreement.


However, before the rogue could cross very far towards the ship, something big began to grow out of the seaweed. It was a disgusting, foul smelling sack of vegetation that was wreathed in screaming humanoid forms struggling to free themselves. A vast distended belly bathed in foul green mucus hung from the vaguely humanoid form. Infantile cries echoed from the hideous passengers that pulled themselves from their mother. Twenty feet tall, the grotesque hybrid of woman and plant was a nightmare of mucoid arms and clustered eyes. It was a deviant thing of rot, a bulk that rose to a head of eyes and barbed, thorny teeth.

“Yep, that’s about what I’d expect,” Adameus flippantly expressed.

“Eww!” was Diamondback’s thoughtful proffering.

Since Adameus was already halfway past the thing, he angled his course to put it between himself and his comrades in the hope of a flanking advantage. However, the thing clearly had eyes “in the back of its head,” if there was a “back” to it. Viselys took a similar position on the near side, while Diamondback and Skald hung back to attack with missile weapons. Cedric, who had been very quite up to this point, remained so and prepared for battle.

Adameus sliced into the creature, rupturing several of the humanoid forms hanging from the thing, and though he thought he had “gotten” them, he seemed to be doing no damage to 'momma.' The same could not be said in the reverse – It lanced out at him with her mottled green tentacles and slammed him repeatedly.

On the other side, Viselys and Cedric were doing only slightly better. Skald and Diamondback weren’t contributing a great deal by their missile attacks, but it was something, and they weren’t getting hit in return as they stayed out of reach. Malcolm also hung back employing spells. His first was to Enlarge Viselys.

After a particularly brutal hit from the ‘mother’ and still not feeling he was doing any appreciable damage in return, Adameus realized that he wasn’t doing anybody any good. He pulled back and began heading for the ship again.

Meanwhile, Viselys and Cedric were actually making progress. Several solid hits were clearly chopping the thing down.

Adameus managed to scale the ship to the main deck. Surmising that this was the “first” ship, he postulated that he might be able to find something inside that would give him a clue as to how to defeat this plant witch (though “witch” was not the word he actually had in mind.) He began a very brisk search with the main hold being his intended destination.

In the hold, there was seaweed everywhere, and he had to hack his way through it to find a chest. It was locked, so he decided to come back for it. He continued searching and found a few other assorted loose valuables, but still nothing that he thought he might be able to use against the sea demon.

Meanwhile, Viselys and Cedric double-teamed the creature in a scissor-like slash of double blades. With an unnatural shriek, the Mother of All melted back into the Sargasso.

“I hope that did it,” Diamondback speculated.

“Everyone, to the ship!” Viselys ordered, and none too soon as they felt the previously firm floor of vegetation begin to soften beneath them. “Move!” he urged them.

Diamondback had little trouble and Malcolm was right behind her. Skald was doing okay, but he had the most distance to cover. Cedric was mired by his armor and, though he did his best, he had his doubts. Viselys held his ground momentarily to rally his comrades. Then he turned and picked up Cedrick under one arm to carry him along. In his enlarged state, Viselys had twice the stride that Cedrick had, but he was also much heavier and the surface upon which they trod was softening my the second.

Inside the hold, Adameus felt the boat begin to break apart. He didn’t have time to wait for Viselys who had the magical Bag of Holding. He picked up the silverware and tucked it into his belt – a full set. He hung the silver candelabrum from his belt pouch. He took two golden goblets in each hand, stems crossed. He then hoisted the chest and promptly fell through the floor into the water. This activated his magical cloak, transforming him into a large manta ray – all the treasure, like his cloths and weapons, becoming part of his new form.

Diamondback helped Malcolm and Skald over the rail and onto the deck. Viselys knew he wasn’t going to make it, so he hoisted Cedrick onto his shoulder, crouched, then tossed Cedrick up and over the rail.

Viselys’ act of heroism had two unintended, though not unexpected, consequences. The force of his exertion was too much for his weakened support and he broke through the seaweed and began to sink. Cedrick landed on the rotten wooden deck with the full weight of his armored body, splintering it on impatct. He and everyone else plunged through the ship and into the water.

Adameus-fish first pushed Cedrick to the surface, then he swam past Skald. The group had already planned for a situation like this and Skald had a rope ready to fasten to Adameus-fish for them all to hold onto. Cedrick maintained his direct grip on Adameus-fish at the point that would be analogous to the shoulder. The rest, in turn, each supported by their own piece of debris, held onto the rope, Viselys being last. With great effort, and very slow speed, Adameus-fish towed the party back in the direction of the Sea Wyvern.

“I hope we don’t attract any sharks,” Skald speculated.

“By the gods!” Diamondback exclaimed.

“I don’t think we have to worry about that,” Viselys replied, “Can you imagine what we must look like to a shark from below?”

Cedrick chuckled, “Yeah, like some mutant sea-serpent!” This gave everyone a little chuckle.

In a much shorter time than they would have expected, they saw the Sea Wyvern approaching, full sail in the slowly building breeze.

“Ahoy!” Barnaby cried from the ship.

“Ahoy!” Viselys replied.

When everyone was safely on the ship, Adameus swam deep to build up speed and launched himself out of the water and up towards the deck. Before he hit, the magic of his cloak returned him to his natural form, along with the chest and goblets and all. He hit with a crash, bursting the wet, rotting chest and spilling treasure everywhere. The goblets rolled in four different directions. The candelabrum almost impaled Adameus, who found himself lying face first in a pile of coins.

As everyone on deck began to crowd around the treasure, Viselys moved to keep everyone back. Adameus stood up, shook himself off and stumbled towards the stairs that led down to the crew quarters.

Ornrik moved towards him, “Adameus, are you okay?”

Although the dwarf never actually touched the rogue, nor was even close enough to do so, Adameus swung his arm as though to swat the dwarf away, “I’m fine. Leave me alone,” and he disappeared below deck, leaving everyone else to ponder the treasure.

Continue to Book 4 - Here There Be Monsters...

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