The party began trying to navigate around the outside of the “shrine” again, hoping to get to the large doors from the outside and drain the water as they had earlier. Another grounder attempted to snack on them, without success. The remoras which had latched on either met their doom or decided the party was not worth the effort.
Similar to before, the walkway ended suddenly, with another tall holding tank not far beyond and below. While Jessica hadn’t had problems jumping from ledge to holding tank last time, she seized up with fear this time. Catrin decided to help, but even her expertise wasn’t enough to completely override the panic attack, and Jessica ended up face-planted on top of the tank with a bleeding nose.
The walkway adjacent to the holding tank went directly beneath their previous path, but it did not end at a door. Instead, the narrow remnants of a perpendicular walkway continued to hug the outer wall of the building. They singly filed along it until it met with the ruins of another wall with the double doors just beyond. Tyrhe had no trouble touching the doors to open them and then flying back to safely before the flood poured out. Fifteen minutes later, enough water had been cleared for it to be safe to enter.
The floor of the “shrine” was littered with debris of various size. The ramp they had used to travel the non-submerged parts of the building wound its way up to the main entrance, and a deep puddle gleamed silver with light from the moonstone inside. As the party drew near, several pieces of debris flew into the air and assembled themselves into a giant metal beast which attempted to destroy them. Its body deflected a lot of strikes, but the few well-placed shots that found joints or weaknesses did damage it. Nazar yelled for folks to stay clear of what he was about to do, and conjured up a flaming sphere, which he used to harry it from a distance. Eventually the creature fell apart into its component pieces again – on top of Jessica, who had been standing next to it.
Hanna dove down and retrieved the moonstone, along with a sopping mass of cloth that came up with it. Nazar cleaned and dried it, and realized it was a robe. It must have been in the cloakroom the moonstone smashed through, and the impact of the stone had infused the robe with enough moondust to make it shimmer.
The party made their way back to their ship. As they exited the shrine and skirted the lagoon, they saw a large fleet of Valuan ships heading north (back toward Valua) at full speed. They recognized one of them as The Serpent. The sight cast a pall over their victory, and they headed back to their home at full speed. En route, Jessica surreptitiously slipped Hanna the sealed paper from the night before, asking her to give it to Catrin while Jessica reported to her father about the expedition.
The island was in ruins. Some buildings smoldered; some were smashed. Jessica’s mother met them at the docks, weeping with relief that they were safe. The Valuans had never before thought it worth the bother or the risk of political ill will to try and bully the islands in Middle Ocean, but apparently the strange girl was valuable enough to them that now it was. Upon discovering the Dynes were Blue Rogues, the Valuans seized not only the girl, but Jessica’s father and everyone who served as crew aboard the Albatross – which got scuttled. The crew were being taken to Valua for public execution.
Tyrhe couldn’t decide whether they needed to rescue the crew from the Valuans or rescue the Valuans from his mother and sister in the crew. Jessica couldn’t decide whether to abandon all hope or to set off on the rescue mission immediately. Mrs. Dyne began to tear up again, to hear her daughter think that way, but sadly agreed that the Captain needed her more than the island did at the moment (and remarked that Jessica strongly took after her father). She then harshly ordered Jessica to her room until morning when their ship would be re-provisioned, and Jessica was so startled that she obeyed. On her way up the stairs, she gestured to Hanna to go ahead and hand over the letter to Catrin.
The rest of the party handed over the moonstone to aid in repair efforts on the island, sold and traded some of the treasures they’d found on Shrine Island for some of the goods the merchants had been able to hide from the Valuan raiders, then went back to what remained of their respective homes.
Tyrhe, in an attempt to center himself, got to work in the kitchen and then took the fruits of his labor to his friends.
Catrin read Jessica’s letter and burst into tears.
Hanna stoically surveyed the wreckage of her home and curled up to sleep on the porch.
Nazar went back to Jessica’s house to deliver the ritual and components she’d been interested in. The two talked for a while. He then went home feeling like a fool.