After leaving the Temple of Dumathoin, we head back home. We have a week before we need to meet with the Tribes to discuss the return of the Devourer. During that time, we clean and repair the house. Athadian also visits the shop which has opened up across the street from us, “The Black Lotus”. It is a curiosities shop, owned by The Painted Man. In addition to his wares, he can identify magical items and do historical research on them.
Also during this week, Sentinel is struck by a large magnitude earthquake. While the older buildings are undamaged, many of the newer constructions and temporary structures are destroyed. In addition, a large sink hole forms in the middle of the city, engulfing the Council of Commerce building. Interestingly, the sink hole is a perfect circle, suggesting that it is unnatural. Needless to say, the city is thrown into chaos, as no group is taking charge of the situation. Into this void steps Athadian. He quickly assesses the situation, and begins to organize relief efforts. In short order, people begin to look to him for leadership and instructions.
Setting an example, Athadian personally leads the effort to rescue a group of Halflings trapped beneath a collapsed tower near our home. The odd thing is that the Halflings are not dressed in casual wear, but appear to be equipped for something. During the rescue, Tobin notices a non-descript older Halfling woman taking more than a casual interest in the proceedings. She realizes that she is being watched and slips back into the crowd. Tobin’s familiar follows her back to the docks, where she enters Salt Shanks, the Halfling community in Sentinel. Pooling our knowledge, we piece together that these Halflings may be members of the Phendrillers, refugee gang from the empire. They are mercenaries known for stealth, infiltration, limited magic use and exotic weapon proficiencies. After saving the buried Halflings, we interrogate one of them. The only information he is willing to give us is “Warehouse 592”. He also produces a note which simply reads “bring proof to Warehouse 592”. Most warehouses are owned by House Tross. We piece together that the Halflings were hired to spy on us from the abandoned tower, and possibly retrieve something from our house. Given our previous run in with House Tross regarding the weapons of Chaos, we believe the House has something to do with that. However, we decide not to pursue this.
That evening, as the city begins to recover from the quake, we are visited by Marius Livingstone, a member of the Queen’s Inquisition. He is interested in the whereabouts of a Red Mantis Assassin named “Aleria”. We inform him that she was a fellow passenger on trip across the sea, but we had not seen her since disembarking. For some reason, he believes that she may try to contact us soon. If she does, he wants us to notify him at the Golden Goose Inn. We assure him of our intended compliance with his request, and he departs.
Several days pass, and the time of the meeting of the Tribes arrives. Tulita Joe leads us to the meeting on the island of Cacao. As outsiders, our arrival is greeted with looks of anger and mistrust. We approach the Elders of the three tribes, deep in conversation. There is a palpable undercurrent of tension. T’lal, the one who invited us, is Elder of the Ridgebacks, the Keepers of the Shrine of the Whale. Macoa is the Elder of the Hardshells, the Keepersof the Shrine of the Tortoise. Honalu is the Elder of the Whistletops, Keepers of the Shrine of the Dolphin. T’lal excuses himself from their discussion and approaches us.
T’lal thanks us for attending and informs us of the troubles the tribes have been having. Villagers go out fishing and don’t return. The only evidence left are their destroyed boats, which wash up on shore. There has been an increase in shark attacks, and those that survive the attacks become weresharks. In addition, all manner of horrible sea creatures have been sighted. All signs suggest the return of The Devourer. The only way to be sure is to determine whether the sunken shrine of the Devourer has resurfaced. The problem is that the shrine is located in a The Cove of The Dead God, which is forbidden to the tribes. That’s where we come in. T’lal wants us to see whether the shrine has risen, and if so, investigate what is inside. The shrine itself used to be Kept by a fourth tribe. Long ago, the followers of the Devourer took over the shrine and started worshipping Djobas, the shark god. When the Devourer was cast out, the gods sent a giant wave to submerge the temple beneath the ocean. However, during the earthquake last week, the shrine appears to have risen from the sea. The problem is that the other two Elders don’t want outsiders meddling in their affairs, and need to be persuaded to allow this mission. Macoa, Elder of the Hardshells, does not think that the Devourer is returning. He believes that the recent problems are caused by the settlers from across the sea slaughtering sacred animals. Honalu, Elder of the Whistletops, is also not fully convinced that the devourer is returning. He feels that the problems are caused by not properly following the Old Gods, and that they need to return to sacrificing in the Old Ways. A final decision by the Elders will be made tomorrow, and T’lal tasks us with convincing the other Elders to allow us to seek out the shrine.
That evening, we attempt to mingle with the tribes. They are celebrating, as it is rare that the three tribes come together like this. The Hardshells, who are known for their martial prowess, are engaging in wrestling matches. Athadian decides to compete in order to prove his worthiness to this tribe. The match is touch and go for a while, but he manages to pin their best wrestler. They are greatly impressed and treat Athadian to rounds of applause. While conversing with some of the Hardshells, we learn that Macoa had lost a twin in an accident with a foreigner vessel, and has distrusted foreigners ever since.
The Whistletops, known for their love of music, dance and performance, are happily singing, dancing and playing a variety of musical instruments. If only Zarene were here to dazzle them with her melodic voice and legendary storytelling. As a poor substitute, Tobin steps in and offers up an awe-inspiring display of knife juggling. This too is met with hearty appreciation. From speaking with the Whistletops, we sense that Honalu believes that the Devourer has returned, but fears that the gods will be angered if we go to the cove.
The next morning, the tribes gather to hear the Elders’ discuss whether to allow us to visit the forbidden shrine. Athadian asks permission to address the Elders, and gives an impassioned and eloquent speech about shared danger, the need to trust each other, and the consequences of failing. Between our actions last night, and Athadian’s speech today, Macoa and Honalu are so moved that they not only give their blessings for our trip, but provide 10 warriors to escort us to the cove.
The warriors lead us to the Cove of the Dead God. From our vantage point, we can see a structure in the middle of the cove, with a giant shark jaw forming an archway at its opening. The structure itself has carvings of sharks devouring all things in their paths. Instead of crystal blue, the water has a reddish, almost bloody, hue. Upon closer inspection, we can see dark shapes silently gliding beneath the surface. We decide to approach the back of the temple by canoe. We paddle out about 20 feet, and are set upon by four large sharks. We attempt to fight them off, but hey destroy our canoe and send us swimming back to shore. We make another attempt. This time, we chum the water on the far side of the cove. While the sharks are away, we launch our second canoe. As we are about to reach the temple, the sharks attack again. We make it to the shrine, but this canoe is destroyed as well. We climb onto the roof of the shrine and make our way towards the entrance. We peer into the entryway, and see that it is covered in a couple of feet of water. From deep within, we hear deep, guttural chanting. The entry leads into a large anteroom with six pillars. A dire shark jaw hangs from the ceiling. Using his blindsense, Tobin scans the room and determines that there is a person behind each pillar.