After some quick healing, the party dived down into the deep pool, which turned out to be a deep, twisting tunnel to a larger cave chamber. Here they encountered two karkinoi guarding the entrance. Larkspur, who was still in giant squid form, grappled one of them while Issalia put the other to sleep. The grappled crab-man grabbed her in return, but then the druid pinned it, allowing her allies to quickly dispatch both foes.
In the room beyond, the party could see a couple of pits filled with slightly phosphorent kelp. A few humanoids were moving about the room; some hide behind the kelp while one fled down a passage on the other side. These humanoids--a kech, a vanara, and two locathah--all had mollusc-like things attached to their heads and upper bodies. Inacio recognized these as aboleth larvae, which instantly put the party on high, paranoid alert. [I used the incutilis from Bestiary 4
to represent these larval aboleths. Not terribly powerful, but very creepy!] As the party worked to dispatch the larvae, they found a couple more (without hosts) hiding in the kelp beds.
Before they could finish off the spawn, an adult aboleth entered the chamber. Damarak cast a spell at it, which failed because the aboleth was only an illusion. He informed the others, but the party struggled to make their own disbelief saves. Virali, however, made hers, and cast glitterdust
into the next room, behind the aboleth—which revealed a small dogfish hiding there, but nothing else. (The aboleth was using veil
to disguise itself as the smaller creature, and project image
to view and magically attack the party.) Lapras, Inacio’s elasmosaurus companion, failed its save against the aboleth’s dominate monster
power, and bit his master. Issalia saved the party from further mauling by hexing the beast with slumber.
Harissa entered the mucus around the aboleth, which was enough for her to see through the illusion. Before she could reach the sparkly fish, however, the aboleth dominated
her, and commanded her to defend it. This caused her to attack Damarak when he started casting another spell. Miraculously, she just barely missed, but he lost his spell (due to failing the caster level check to cast a fire spell underwater). Harissa then moved towards the “dogfish” to protect it but failed her save against the glitterdust
and was blinded.
Issalia used her ring of jetting
to zip past the aboleth and dogfish, but swam straight into the real aboleth’s mucus cloud. She managed to see through the veil
and warn the others where it really was. Harissa heard this, and blindly tried to stab it—not realizing yet that the dogfish and aboleth were the same. She missed, but came too close for the aberration’s comfort, so it commanded her to simply keep still.
By this time, Larkspur had found the other passage into the aboleth’s chamber. She immediately pierced the illusion, and attacked it with her tentacles, landing the party’s first blow on the real thing. She didn’t much like the look of the slime on and around its body, so kept her distance rather than grappling. This left Issalia as the only threat within its reach, so it whipped her with its tentacles. The witch failed her save, and found her skin and flesh turning into slime.
Larkspur cast geyser
under the aboleth, which pushed it away from the party for a moment Issalia put Harissa to sleep, then retreated slowly (to avoid more tentacle attacks). Inacio finally made his save to see through the false aboleth, and rushed forward to strike the real one. The aboleth now had many targets to attack, but failed to slime any more PCs. It and Larkspur traded tentacle slaps from a distance, then Damarak used his longspear to deliver the killing blow from safely outside its mucus cloud.
The party then hunted down the last incultilises. Larkspur found some aboleth eggs hidden in the kelp, and carefully smashed them. Another tunnel continued past these rooms, but the party needed to withdraw to heal and regain spells before facing any more battles. Back at their ship, Isslaia had to remain in the water to keep her transformed flesh moist, and was unable to breathe air for a few hours due to the mucus she inhaled, so Larkspur stood guard over for the night until Damarak could cure her the next morning.
Out of a need to keep this big fight moving briskly along, I've put more interaction with the tojanida on hold for now; it's still lurking about top-side. I think I’m going to have it sneak down into the caves while they rest, so that they can encounter it looting the aboleth’s treasure when they go back to explore the rest of the flooded tunnels. Next session will involve far less combat--a handful more karkinoi, and maybe the tojanida (depending on how that reunion plays out). Instead, the focus will be finding and curing the aboleth’s slaves, followed by Damarak trying to romance the mermaid Sushandrali.
And that will conclude “Winds of Freeport,” unless they want to run through Inacio’s attempt to take out his old enemy, Barty the Small. But the group is looking forward to our next game, and our schedule has been very spotty this summer. So hunting Barty will probably have to happen off-screen, or some week when we can’t get the whole group together but Inacio’s player is available.
Lastly, here are a few photos of the aboleth battle: