The scuffle with the pod of eels attracted a Marakan and some puffer fish, which (thankfully) were dispatched much more efficiently – and saved in pieces for the evening meal. The rest of the journey to Shrine Island was uneventful, save that only about five hours’ daylight remained.
Shrine Island is named for the huge building which takes up most of the landmass. The party made a quick circle around the island, and noticed that erosion had exposed some catwalks and corridors. Sadly, they were too close together to safely tie off the ship and make the jump onto them. The party choose to moor on the side of the island with a lagoon adjacent to what was probably the front door of the shrine.
The moonstone had punched through the building, near the bottom of the wall, and water was flooding into the building from the lagoon. Jessica had gotten a little too focused on retrieving the moonstone as quickly as possible, and began trying to figure out if there was a safe way to ride the water directly to it. Tyrhe even tried to spike a piton into the building wall – and was surprised to find he could not even chip it. Catrin, ever Jessica’s voice of reason, suggested they simply walk through the door and make their way down gradually. She inspected the double-doors for locks and hazards, and found none. Neither did she find any sort of mechanism to open them. They did yield to being pried apart, and the party wasn’t sure whether it was good or bad that they could not find any mechanism to close the doors behind them.
The foyer opened into a large room with stairways ringing the walls, joining up with catwalks at various levels. The remnants of a cloakroom stood just a little to the right; Catrin explored it and found a small ruby ring. The water was rushing downward and muddling view a little bit, but the flooded floors below seemed to converge like the walls of a funnel. The silver moonstone glowed like a faraway star in its depths. There were doors at each level of catwalk, and Jessica suggested they might be able to open them one level at a time and lower the depth of the water before attempting to dive for the stone – at the very least it would keep the water levels from rising. The party decided the best way to practice was to find a door near their current level, expecting all the interior doors would be similar.
Their first challenge was getting to such a door, which of course happened to be on the other side of the rushing water. Tyrhe and Hanna volunteered to hold the ends of a rope so the others could use it to aid their crossing. Tyrhe made a prodigious leap to the far “bank”, and Jessica got across without difficulty thanks to the rope. Catrin had one close call but no trouble. Nazar was overwhelmed by the current several times and actually had to be hauled out of the water. Hanna might as well have been walking on top of the water, as easy as it was for her.
The catwalk turned and became a short flight of stairs, which had obscured the bizarre creatures the party encountered next. Two of them were about as dangerous as the puffer fish which had harassed them earlier; Jessica was able to defeat one just by laughing at its strange looks. The third one seemed to be nothing but a magically animated carapace, made out of a strange material that was as scratch-resistant as the walls of the shrine. Tyrhe, consumed by curiosity, insisted that they take it with them, offering to tie it to his back and refusing to consider the possibility of just coming back for it later (since perhaps they would not leave by the same path they came in).
Finally they reached the door they’d aimed for. This interior door was similar to the front door in construction, and they pried it open as they had the other. It opened into a corridor. Catrin saw light around one of its bends. Following it, she saw sunlight; this was one of the catwalks they had seen on their initial circuit of the island. She returned and also pointed out the door she’d passed by on the way – it had been fine to ignore originally, but she did not like the idea of leaving a possibly dangerous unknown at their backs.
Catrin and Tyrhe pried open that door, and a wave of stench assaulted the party worse than the eels had. Hanna quietly pointed out what she called a carrion crawler clinging to the wall just above the door. While a pile of rotted somethings on one side of the room seemed to be sustaining it for now, their opening the door had gotten its attention and it was poised to add them to the pile. After a few attempts to attack it at range, Tyrhe finally threw to the wind what little caution he had and stepped inside to menace it close-up. A phantom bolt from Nazar sent the beast scuttling downward, where it promptly met with its doom.
When the party was sure the crawler was dead, Tyrhe made a wry quip about needing to next take out whatever beast was hiding inside the refuse heap. Unfortunately, while he was not surprised to discover an otyugh holed up in it, he was also not prepared for where its attack was coming from, and only barely dodged its initial attempts to grab him. It did eventually latch hold of him, and kept hold of him despite efforts by both Nazar and Jessica to forcibly separate them by magic. But without its carrion crawler ally to assist it, the otyugh fell too. The party then rummaged through the refuse pile and found a cloak, and also found a book made out of a different strange material, much more sturdy than paper and possibly waterproof. After repeatedly using the Prestidigitation cantrip to clean everything and everyone, Nazar flipped through the book and felt like he should be able to recognize what was written in it, as the symbols had an arcane style to them. Jessica read over his shoulder, and together they puzzled out that one of the chapters was an arcane ritual for creating a Floating Disc. The other passages remain a mystery.