Ask and ye shall receive

[[miranda|Sofiya|Sofiya]], [[miranda|Xarth|Xarth]], [[miranda|Briz|Briz]], and [[miranda|Ludwig|Ludwig]] leave the city of [[miranda|Valparia|Valparia]] and travel north along the coastal road for the [[miranda|Dakar|Kingdom of Dakar]]. Only Sofiya knows their final destination ([[miranda|Ulrichstein|Ulrichstein]]); although she has told the others enough that they can understand that this will be a long trip. She has told them that four hours north of Valparia is the town of [[miranda|Gostyn|Gostyn]] where they will they will get a wagon and a selection of trade goods in order to open the merchant house. The trip is uneventful except for Briz’s insistence that any silence be filled with chatter.

When they reach  Gostyn, Sofiya arranges for a room for herself and space in the common room for the others. She then leaves Briz and Ludwig to their drinking and a game Briz calls “Goblin Poker” while her and Zarth go in search of James, the man who has the wagon. She finds out that James is a carpenter and owns a shop down on the water’s edge where he repairs boats. James tells her that the axle has been replaced, wheel repaired, and the wagon plus all of the goods are waiting at the stable of the Dancing Fish. Sofiya and Xarth go to the Dancing Fish where they find a wagon, 2 mules, and a pile of cargo laid out.

While Sofiya examines the wagon and its contents, Xarth returns to the inn. He is greeted not only by the sight of his two traveling companions playing cards, but a pair of dogs lying in front of the hearth. The smaller dog looks up and for a moment it seems to have human-shaped eyes. The dog then trots outside giving Xarth very little notice. Xarth mentions it to Briz, who immediately gives Xarth his “winning” hand and goes outside to find this “dog”. Briz follows rumors down a rundown fishing house at the north end of town. He knocks on the door and after several uncomfortable minutes an old man named Atheis, walking on a cane opens the door and does his best to be rid of Briz once and for all. Briz is far too persistent and finally the old man relents and allows Briz to come inside his home. This is the last thing that Briz remembers from his visit with Atheis – in fact it is the last time anyone sees Briz.

After sending the stable boy outside Sofiya searches the wagon and finds the hidden compartment just where she was told it would be located. Inside she finds a small map and a few notes scribbled on a small scroll about the town of Ulrichstein where she has been told to open a merchant house. Most of the notes are about Lord Kuhn, who is the local lord of the town. Once she tucks that away for later study she goes over the manifest and compares it to each piece of equipment. Everything seems to be in its place so she fetches the stable boy from outside and tells him to clean the mules and ready them to leave in the morning.

When Sofiya returns to the inn, Briz still has not returned from investigating the strange dog. After waiting a bit more for Briz to return Sofiya has enough and decides that they need to go in search of him. They ask around town and find out that he went over to speak to Old Atheis. They find nobody in the man’s house, but a neighbor offers them the hospitality of his home. Things are very difficult for everyone involved and Xarth constantly interjects into the conversation and makes inappropriate comments. However, they do find out that Atheis often takes his boat out at night when the sky is threatening a large storm and he brings back the best haul of the village. They find out that Atheis typically fishes in shark cove just beyond hawks rock north of the town.

Kidnapped

While his companions are walking along the rocky shore towards shark cove, Briz wakes up and finds that he is hanging upside down over a pool of water in a cave. He sees Atheis surrounded by small trinkets beating on a hollow log that is partially submerged. Behind Atheis is a small boy nerviously pacing at the rear of the cave. Every few minutes there is a sucking sound from the pool of water and a geyser shoots up getting everything in the cave wet. He tries to talk to Atheis, but he is obviously deep in a trance, he tries talking to the boy to no avail, finally he tries to untie himself, but the ropes are far too tight. Even summoning forth the will to cast a spell is far too difficult as something keeps blocking him from gathering the power that he needs.

Sofiya, Ludwig, and Xarth reach the cove and begin to work their way down the face and into the cave. It is easy to see why it got its name as dozens of sharks are visible inside the protected cover waters. They carefully work their way along a small ledge inside of the cave until they can go no farther without getting in the water. Xarth transforms part of the rock face into a gate to block out the sharks in the cove, while Ludwig lowers his body into the water after Sofiya ties a rope around his waist. Ludwig swims/walks forward through neck-high waters as something swims around his legs.

Meanwhile Briz, still hanging upside down, sees a large shark-faced humanoid step up from the waters. This creature reeks of malevolent power as his black eyes look over both Briz and Atheis. Atheis begins to bargain for a boon from the shark demon, offering up a bowl of fine wine and Briz’s soul – Briz objects as he is still using his soul, but cannot seem to free himself from the bonds. The shark demon takes a closer look at Briz even brushing up against him to get a measure of his power. With that the bargain is sealed and the shark demon drinks the wine if a single gulp.

Outside, Ludwig finds a small tunnel at the back of a seemingly empty cave. The tunnel is fully below the waterline with only a small bit at the top open as the tide rushes out. He times the waves and begins to work his way down the tunnel, but does not reach it in time before the tide rushes back in and he is propelled (along with a cut rope)  into the cavern occupied by Briz, the shark demon, the boy, and Atheis. Rather than take advantage of the situation Ludwig rises to his feet while drawing his blade and commands the creature to face a true hero.

With the rope being going slack, Sofiya and Xarth assume the worst. Xarth strengthens the stone gate and then gives them both gills before they plunge into the water. The tidal strength has increased dramatically since Ludwig went into the water so they find it far more difficult to make headway. It takes them several minutes to finally reach the small tunnel and when they do Sofiya finds herself sucked in ahead of Xarth.

Meanwhile inside the cavern, Ludwig is trading blows with the shark demon with neither one gaining an advantage. Still tied up, Briz continues to harass Atheis with his “terrified hanging over a hungry shark demon” dialog while Atheis tries his best shut him up with magic – that never seems to work right. Finally Briz manages to free himself from the bond and drop in the water, which distracts the demon enough that Ludwig cuts it deep across the belly.

Into the ichor-fouled pool popped Sofiya as Xarth began to make his way cautiously down the tunnel. Ludwig and the demon continue to trade blows with the demon taking the brunt of the damage as Ludwig presses his advantage. Briz leaps upon the demon’s back and does his best to cover the beast’s eyes, while avoiding slipping into its toothy maw. Seeing the demon losing the fight Atheis turns his body into water and slips into the pool to escape.

The demon, maddened by pain and surrounded, sucks in much of the pool water and spits out boiling water, which fills the cavern. Ignoring the pain the heroes press their attack. Xarth and Sofiya work on attacking the demon’s legs and footing, Briz distracts the beasts senses, while Ludwig stabs and cuts at the great beast. Again the sea demon sucks in sea water and spits it at its tormentors, but in shortly after the creature is felled.

They do their best to stabilize the young boy, recover the magical instruments used by Atheis, and find out that the shark demon was wearing a fine coat of scales. They spend a few hours looking for Atheis, but come to the conclusion that he fled when he knew the demon would lose the fight. Using the boat found in the cavern, waiting for low tide, and with great care they were able to get everyone out of the cavern.

When they arrive in town they spin a tale about Atheis sacrificing his life to save the boy from a monstrous shark that lived in the deeps of shark cove. They were there to help save the boy, but could do nothing to save Atheis. The town mourns one of its own and celebrates the actions of the strangers. There is a town feast that night and the next morning the town turns out to see the strangers off, along with gifts from the town.

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