And there it was, a stone tower jutting crookedly from a small sandbar. The captain swore under his breath and called for a full stop alongside, once again planning to put the adventurers in his care to use. He had a bad feeling about this, as the tower was new, and new things in the ocean were invariably bad news. This tower appeared to have once been part of a larger structure, snapped off and placed ungracefully upon the sandbar. The sandbar was new too, however that was less worrisome, as the waters in this area were particularly mercurial. But this tower had clearly come from somewhere, and not the bottom of the ocean.
“Lads, I am sending you out to investigate but heed my words. I don’t get paid for delivering corpses to the keep. Take a look around, but don’t get in over your head, retreat if you get into trouble” rumbled the captain at the two adventurers. They gave their acknowledgement and boarded the dingy and road over to the sandbar.
The interior of the tower was well lit, so they stowed their lanterns and stood in the large entry room and took stock of the locale. It appeared by all rights to be a turret tower from an average fort, and some preliminary investigation found two storage areas full of weapons rusted beyond usefulness and two closed doors.
“I do believe this to be another empty mystery, beardless. Let us be on our way” growled Gornad “We have wasted enough time in our journey, and I be ready to be on solid ground again.”
“Let’s look a bit longer, there may be treasure here. Imagine reaching the keep with our fortunes made” Garth replied.
“Aye, perhaps you have the right of the thing. The place seems abandoned by rights. Gold will make for a softer bed and easier landing once we are ashore.”
With there path resolved, the adventurers chose the western door to try first. The dwarf pushed it open, and it offered no resistance. Once the door had swung slightly open, there was a faint click. The Dwarf ducked, and a spiked ball whistled overhead and settled in the door frame.
“Yargh!, mayhap, this place be not as about as we first assumed. This trap was set intentionally.” huffed the dwarf.
Garth made no comment, but peered into the room, past the spiked ball. It was full of old bed frames, the mattresses long ago rotted away.
“I knew it, this is a guard tower, probably from a keep much like the one we are headed too. The regiment sleeps here, with the lower ranks in the room in front of us. There will be a room for the officers, and a room with an office for the ranking officer.” Garth whispered. That office will have gold, even if all the perishables have rotted away."
They walked into the room, intending to continue down the halls to the office.
“Look, Garth. The other doors were trapped, but one has been been sprung and the door closed.”
“From what I know about forts, the sprung one is most likely another armory. Can you disarm the other so we do not risk injury?”
“Aye, but it will take time. Keep watch, something feels off about this place.”
The dwarf set to work, and Garth kept watch. An hour or so passed uneventfully before the dwarf was finished. The door grabbed their gear and started down the hall when a low moaning started emanating from one of the beds.
“See I told you this place was no right!”
Unheeded, Garth stalked over to the bed and plunged his sword through the frame. The moaning quieted, and turned to tell the dwarf all was fine, when three shadowy figures appeared in front of him. They were all shadow, save for their helms and spears. The helms appeared to be standard issue imperial military, but what they were doing on shadows Garth had no idea. He had little time to ponder it though, as the spears were plunging towards him. He managed to skate back and bring his sword to bear on one of the shadows. His sword arm felt resistance, as it were biting into flesh and not insubstantial shadow. Gornad swung his axe, but went wide. The shadow closest to Garth reached out a hand and clutched at his chest, as if trying to arrest him. Garth felt his strength go out of him, as if his muscles had suddenly decayed. Gornad’s axe buried itself into the shadow’s back, and creature fell. It and it’s companion slowly dissolving on the floor. The remaining shadow retreated to a nearby wall and sunk into the shadows there.
“Well, that was a shock. I feel I need to rest before we continue. That shadow did something to my body.” Garth panted. “Let’s go to the entry hall, and pass some time.”
They headed back and pulled out some rations and passed the time. By and by, Garth felt his strength coming back. Once he had recovered sufficiently, they delved deeper into the fortress. On the way past the fallen shadows, they picked up the helms on a whim.
The next room was a smaller barracks, just as Garth had predicted. They opened the next door too a short hallway. At the end was an ornate wooden door, and a shadow wearing an officers helm. He performed the imperial salute and, when they returned it, stepped aside and motioned them in.
The room was a modest office, with a shadow sitting behind the desk, looking at them expectantly. They walked towards the desk reluctantly, and were handed a parchment. It was a writ of passage, with a seal that Garth identified as an older version of the Imperial Seal, last used around five years ago. The writ granted the bearer passage to inspect the fort.
They left the office, more confused than with they had entered. The door guard gave them a crisp salute as they walked by.
As the entered the officers barracks, they received another unwelcome surprise, a raiding party of merman. Upon sighting the adventurers, the merman hesitated, which become their downfall. A mighty swing of Garth’s two hander downed one and injured another, the hewed into the third. The injured one ran, and Garth gave chase. The third got a lucky spear strike into the dwarf, before meeting its end. Garth hunted the survivor down, shrugging off the inky spit the beast spewed and hacking its head off.
After cleaning themselves off a bit, and bandaging their wounds. They continued exploring. They walked through a training hall and a mess room, both full shadows. The Shadows paid them no mind, continuing to eat, or pantomime eating food.
As they were nearing completion of the floor, the dwarf spied false masonry towards the back of the mess hall. They spent and hour clearing it, and uncovered a stairwell, with a small storage area. The storage area contained some old chests, containing a few precious gemstones.
“Treasure, finally. Now we can beat a retreat before something we can no handle comes along and splatters us along the wall.”
“One more room, then we will retire to the ship. The kitchen is still left.”
They walked over to the kitchen door, and promptly regretted it. Inside was another merman raiding party, locked in battle with a massive Ooze. The merman plunged their spears in unison, only for those spears to be dissolved, followed quickly by the ooze crashing down on them and consuming them.
The adventurers closed the door and went quickly and quietly back to the ship.
Once back aboard, they reported their findings to the captain. The captain considered what they said, and gave the orders to set sail again. He had his own opinions on the matter, but chose to keep them silent for now. This time the journey was not interrupted, and they finished the voyage to King’s Grasp.