Bestirred by the clarion call of his hated enemy chanted by the Illmarsh’s priests before the entire village, Orin did not notice that his own allies struggled against these words. Enraptured, Hudson and Astrid forgot the mission that drove them to this cliffside evening mass. The barbarian dwarf, Thorgur, was not so easily swayed, however, and made efforts to pull his friends away from the soothing words of the head priest – bodily, if need be.
But soon the priest’s words ended of their own accord, as Orin unleashed his arcane fury. With a flourish, he summoned a host of black tentacles upon the priests, who fell prey to the grasping limbs. And as the gathered worshippers quailed in fright, Orin revealed himself to them, floating overhead. “I am the Archmage of the Lake!” He boomed, hair floating unnaturally above his head, trident outstretched. “And you will obey me, or suffer the consequences!” He gave his ultimatum: bring the missing gillmen to the edge of town within 24 hours or watch their city burn.
The townsfolk fled before Orin’s wrath, and the rest of our heroes bled into the crowd to make their own disappearance.
The party gathered at the Old Man and the Sea afterwards, and Orin made his intent clear to a shocked audience: he would indeed burn the town if that was what it took. He would not debate the evils of the aboleth with these people. If this was their choice, then he would give them their due.
Thorgur balked at Orin’s display, unwilling to sacrifice an entire town for Orin’s vengeance. He pressed the gillman to reconsider his path. Orin was little swayed by the dwarf’s argument, but he did not argue with their need to gather more information – and they would begin by following the single clue left them by the warriors of the House of the Rising Tide, that word “Fineas” – the name of the Illmarsh mayor.
Before our heroes could enact any plan to confront the mayor, however, they were set upon by unexpected enemies: the dialogists, living shadows and walking confessions, ethereal creatures who carried the bitter secrets of their victims wherever they went. Astrid and Hudson fell prey to these creatures, muttering unwitting truths – Astrid revealing her true heritage, and Hudson revealing a murder in his past – but none of the dialogists survived our heroes’ wrath, aided also by Anthony Arkwright, and their secrets faded into the dark with them.
When the moment had passed, Anthony revealed what he knew of the rumors: that these horrors prowled the streets at the behest of the priests, seeking those of deviant mind. Anthony had not believed the rumors until now, but our heroes felt compelled to assign truth to legend after what they had encountered.
Wasting no more time, the party stormed the Illmarsh Town Hall but found themselves having to wait in line. The foreman, Larmuk, was already giving Mayor Fineas a piece of his mind, insisting he would work no more with the mayor. Attempting to leave, clearly afraid for his life, he was quick to tell our heroes his purpose to obtain his freedom. Mayor Fineas, it seemed, once put into power by the monopolistic Obadiah & Sons shipping company, was now robbing from his would-be sponsors with the help of the foreman. Unwilling to put his life on the line, and fearing Obadiah & Sons would grow more vengeful after Orin’s threat to the town, Larmuk had every intention of skipping town and leaving FIneas to his fate.
Our heroes allowed him to go and do just that, leaving them alone with Fineas. Confronted with his crime, his own life threatened, Fineas confessed to Larmuk’s accusation. He was quick to follow it with his own: it was Obadiah that controlled the dialogists, and although Fineas had seen the gillmen when they came to town, he was certain Obadiah had put his hands on them, in the end.
Unwilling to allow the mayor to leave town for this confession, our heroes accosted the hapless Fineas and marched him – making a quick stop to bring Anthony Arkwright along – to the docks, where Obadiah & Sons ran their business. Despite the late hour, they had decided to force a confrontation in any case.
They found the office building almost entirely vacant – not unsurprising, given the time of day – but not totally. Obadiah waited for them in the warehouse, and he had his sons with him – or perhaps they were “sons”, for they were monstrous creatures, fish-like in aspect, and nearly four times the size of a normal man.
As for Obadiah, he was no mere man himself, but in fact a gillman. Orin was surprised to find his kin here, fighting him, but even more so to discover that he knew Obadiah – if by another name: Hagen. Hagen was a gillman of Tzim’chevaghol, and one of the council members who had voted to exile Orin after his rejection by the aboleth.
Orin’s vengeance was swift, and with his friends at his side, Hagen and his sons fell swiftly. Hagen made his own last stand against the gillman, but Orin focused his rage and power into a single, mythic fireball – and Hagen was left as little more than ash.
Quickly recovering, our heroes assessed the warehouse. They discovered trace amounts of diamond dust and powdered quartz – likely material components for a spell – scattered amidst the otherwise mundane shipments scattered about the shop. Yet their final discovery was more tragic: they found the gillmen at last, but too late. Hagen had slain them, while they yet remained his prisoner, and the blood revealed a recent execution at that. Just a little too late.
Orin knew his next destination: the Seaside Chapel, where Father Gharol conducted his flock, and the source of this madness originated.