Chapter 4 - "What An Incredible Smell You've Discovered"

The Sea Wyvern skirted as close to the shores as possible, which were sheer cliffs that plunged directly into the watery depths below, yet near the bay's farthest inland point, a crude pier of rocks and yellowed bones extended from the maw of a treacherous-looking sea cave. Twin rows of hollow, yellowed skulls that burned with an eerie green fire day and night, made the ramshackle dock easy to locate.

"You think that could be it?" Saris asked pointing at it.

"No, I'm sure we're looking for another skull lantern lined bone dock," Duxsil answered.

Liamae coughed, though it sounded an awful lot like a muffled laugh.

"Right, we'll take a dinghy," Viselys said after clearing his throat. With that Viselys, Saris, Ken-ji, Liamae, Duxsil, and Urol climbed in to one of the ship's dinghies and rowed towards the ominously lit dock.

"We'll have to be careful so as not to draw attention to ourselves," Viselys directed as they slid up to the pier.

"I'm so stealthy I could sneak up on myself," Saris said as he climbed out onto the gruesome dock before adding in a disgusted tone, "That is one awful stench." The twin rows of skulls with glowing green eyes illuminated the dock and path to the cave entrance, and also seemed to give off some kind of sickly vapor.

The others agreed, though none more strongly than Viselys who began gagging on the noxious fumes. His face paled to a slight greenish hue that blended in with the greenish glow of the light cast by the skull lanterns. As it was, the guardsman that would have taken point ended up bringing up the rear with muffled groans, and stifled gags.

The group continued along the soggy planks ascending the sloped floor of the salt-encrusted grotto. Refuse and broken crustacean shells littered several shallow pools near the walls, making easy meals for a small flock of sickly gulls that roosted in the cracked walls. A ten-foot-wide opening in the southern wall had been closed off by a rusty iron gate.

"I'll take point," Saris said looking back at the nauseated Viselys who nodded before covering his mouth and turning away quickly. The others readied themselves for whatever lay on the other side of the gate. Saris pushed on the gate, and stepped inside with the others following.

Within the next section of cave there was an immense and cantankerous reptile with a short-snout, a 8-foot-tall sail-like fin that rose from its back. The lizard creature was chained to the wall as if it were a pet or guard dog.

"What the heck is that?" Saris asked.

Urol skirted to one side to get a look. "Looks like maybe a dimetrodon of some kind, but it isn't looking too healthy," he said, scrunching his face in concern. "See how its flesh is thick and crusty? And those large shingles of excess growth hanging from the sail? That isn't normal for any creature I've ever seen."

As if the creature had finally noticed them, or possibly taking offense to Urol's assessment, it began to bark and roar.

"Time to kill it," Saris said as he advanced to strike it.

"So much for stealth," Liamae smirked at the announcement.

Just as Saris landed a hit, the creature grappled him delivering a terrible bite. The others began attacking as best they ccould to target only the sickly beast without hitting Saris trapped within its grasp. To make matters more difficult, though Saris being in the the creature's mouth made a most effective gag, some troglodytes, had already been alerted and began to advance on the group.

Ken-ji cast a spell creating a wall of fire that held off the four troglodytes and caught the beast across the flank, causing it to drop Saris as it tried to get away, but being on a short chain prevented escape. Urol debated healing Saris when Liamae stopped him. "Kill the enemy then heal the wounded." It seemed rather cold to Urol, but with the troglodytes coming in he could see the sense in it.

Duxsil managed to kill the guard dog creature with one final blow of his pole arm, while Ken-ji summoned lightning which erupted down the tunnel obliterating the skull lanterns. This had the fortunate effect of alleviating the cause of Viselys' nausea and allowing him to join the fray against the troglodytes. Viselys suffered a swipe from one of the troglodyte's claws before killing it, and the other was finally finished by a flaming sphere that Liamae kept on it as the others attacked. The two remaining trogs retreated back down the passageway.

Not to waste a spell, Liamae directed the flaming sphere down the tunnel with Viselys and Ken-ji a ways to scout things out. The other three healed Saris' wounds a bit, and looted the dead, finding two healing potions of moderate strength and a couple of bottles filled with a pungently smelling black poultice of some kind.

After the flaming sphere spell had run its course, Viselys pulled out his sword, which he remembered would glow at will, providing them with light as the all regrouped to head farther into the tunnels.

Continue to Chapter 5...

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