The party continued to explore the 'taboo' island. Skirting around the eastern side before heading towards the cliffs, they encountered more skinwalkers, who had prepared an ambush. Faldak caused the undergrowth to entangle them as Antony's snuck by, and the party soon managed to turn the tables. T othe sourtheast they found another ziggurat - this one collapsed and inhabited by spectres. Antony, who had reluctanly clambered down into the ruin in the first place, bore the brunt of their attacks until Stefanie called upon Vanya to hold them t bay whilst the others sent them back to their graves. This ziggurat bore the markings of the immortal Khoronus, and it appeared the others were also dedicated to members of the Council of Intrusion; matching the deities they had seen on the artifact in the aboleth city deep below them.
Finally the party made their way to the cliffs where they had seen a large entrance previously on the shorefront. Another ziggarat rested here, inscribed wit hthe sigils of all the council's immortals, and just beyond they heard the shouts of a skinwalker (strange as they had seen these creatures use telepathy earlier), answered by another muffled voice in the same tongue. ANthony scouted ahead and saw a cluster of huts with a lone skinwalker on guard duty. Under a greater invisibility spell, he left the rest of the party hidden by the ziggurat and snuck forward with Faldak and Mendel to launch an attack. Antony used a wand of fireballs to sow confusion as Mendel sniped at the skinwalker guard and his companions emerged from the huts. A powerful skinwalker spellcaster emerged and Faldak was the unfortunate victim of a feeblemind spell, taking him out fo the fight as suddenly the soil become far more interesting. Seeing the flames, the rest of the party rushed to join in the battle, but Zhedd too was feebleminded. Antony continued to spray fireballs around - even launching on inside a hut from where he'd heard voices before. Mendel was suprised a a red-headed halfling appeared behind him and planted two arrows in his neck - but his return volley gravely injured the halfling and caused him to surrender.
Soon, the skinwalkers were defeated, and the party gathered round their two feebleminded companions and the strange new halfling guest - whose skin bore the same ruddy tone they had seen on the Crimson Fleet pirates. He introduced himself as Throgiff, a member of the Crimson Fleet from a land he called Cimmaron. He was apparently exiled here after embarrassing his captain Longshanks LeShiv in a game of cards; left on the island to oversee the slaves that were sent here, and the delivery of the shadow pearls from the skinwalkers to the korpu, via a tunnel hidden at the ziggurat's peak. He was completely disillusioned with his lot, and his only interest was to get off the island and escape back home. He said he had a ledger monitoring the number of slaves sacrificed and shadow pearls delivered to the Crimson Fleet's base in Scuttlecove; but the ledger had been destroyed when Antony fireballed the hut in which he was staying. The leader of the fleet, Cold Captain Wyther, kept in touch with Throgiff via a crystal ball with telepathy, but had not been in touch for a week or so; and Throgiff had no knowledge that Vanthus had died. After some debate, the party agreed that Throgiff could accompany them if he helped them confront the skinwalkers in their base. He agreed; but had not been inside their lair. Still, he happily showed them the secret entrance they used, hidden in an alcove to the north of a large set of broken double doors built into the cliff face.
The party rested, and the next day entered the structure carved into the cliff. It appeared an ancient but well built structure, and showed signs of a lot of use by the skinwalkers. The secret door led to long corridor that ended in another secret door, which was easily located and opened. Beyond was a small chamber with a carving of a ziggurat on a pedestal in its centre. An inscription in abyssal, which Throgiff translated, read "The blood keeps safe the flesh", and indeed there were signs of dried blood in channels around the surface of the carving. The warning became clear as the party headed south, and triggered a trap which sent a giant boulder rolling down the corridor towards them. Zhedd quickly shaped a stone lip across the corridor behidn them, and Dacien created a wall of force to divert the boulder safely to the side.
At the end of the corridor they found a chamber with an altar soaked in blood, much of which was pooled around the southern wall; searching here, Antony found a secret door which opened to some stairs leading down into a waterlogged passage. Ignoring that for now, the party continued east, and saw the rear of the broken double door in the distance. Before they coudl aprpaoch, they were overcome by an awful stench of rotting meat and decay; as a giant flesh jelly emerged from its lair at the sound of approaching meat.
Our Last Best Hope
16 hours ago