The group stood around both Lor and Krac back at Turtleback Ferry, observing Maelin Shreed intone the rites that would return them to life and restore their vitality. When the ritual had completed, and the deceased were returned relatively unscathed to their friends, they returned to the Turtle’s Parlor and rested for the night, resolving to return back up the mountain to confront the Kreeg as soon as possible.
The following morning, they awoke to the sounds of screams outside of the inn. A man ran through the hallways banging on the doors exclaiming that the town was flooding.
As they roused and collected their belongings, the group fled out into the streets to appraise the situation.
The village of Turtleback Ferry was drowning. The muddy, surging waters of the Skull River tore through the center of the community to fill Claybottom Lake with a terrible fury—many of the buildings that once sat comfortably on the river’s banks were already flooding and in danger of collapsing from the rushing water. A group of children and a woman huddled aboard one of the old turtleshell ferryboats, the tiny flood-bashed vessel lodged up against the general store and threatening to capsize at any moment. Beyond, the town’s church stood sold, its foundations already three feet deep in flood waters.
They clambered atop a few buildings to escape the waters, and with a rustle of air about her, Lor took to the sky and flew over to the frightened schoolchildren. As she flew over, the waters carried the massive boa up onto the side of the ferry boat. It rose from the water with a loud hiss and attacked, constricting and then attempting to swallow one of the young pig-tailed school children. Their schoolmarm screamed out in terror, powerless to do anything to help the poor girl. The rest of the children joined her in screaming.
Seris wildly dashed off the top of the roof, and with a magic intonation she was magically transported next to the snake with a flourish.
Suddenly disinterested in the tiny girl within its grasp, the snake dove at Seris, instead coiling around her in a deadly embrace. Rickben and the others lobbed attacks from the rooftops across the street. Several of Rickben’s arrows slammed into the beast, and it released its vice-like grip upon her.
Seris uncoiled herself and brought her sword down to bear. Without ceremony, the snake slid off the boat and disappeared into the rushing waters.
Tillia Henkenson gushed all over Seris and the others as they ushered the schoolchildren to the roof. Seris and Lor clambered onto the roof with them while the others appraised their environment to determine what to do next.
They had very little time to react before a large black shape materialized out of the water. The floodwaters surged violently, and with a thunderous roar a fearsome creature emerged.
It bore a head like a plesiosaur atop a thrashing mass of tentacles and eyes. Seeing a gathering of creatures before it, the monstrosity opened its mouth and exhaled a cloud of foul-smelling breath all over Krac, Rickben, Shalelu and Bahram. All of them felt a momentary lapse in sanity and were overcome with confusion. The cloud clung to them, but after a fit of coughing, they began to fight back. Lor quickly found it was resistant to spells, and the others had much difficulty piercing its supernaturally tough hide.
It responded to the assaults with primary fury, lashing out at the others on the roof. As they begun to grow weary with wounds, the creature seemed to lose interest. It surged downriver, crashing into a few small homes and vanished into the depths of Claybottom Lake.
After the creature retreated, a cheer rose from the villagers who had gathered on the shores to watch. The floodwaters seemed to be receding. As the villagers gathered around the soaked town grounds and began to chatter, they overheard the villagers expressing relief that Skull’s Crossing had not yet burst, but the sudden rush of water seemed to indicate something dire had happened up in the mountains. Several locals recognized the creature as Black Magga from local legend and explained that the monster was said to dwell in the Storval Deep and not in the Skull River.
All signs pointed north, they explained. Something must have happened at Skull’s Crossing. When, in the past, storms threatened to spill over the dam, the structure’s floodgates opened automatically to release water pressure in a controlled flow. No one could explain exactly how the mechanism worked, as Skull’s Crossing had long been the den of a tribe of trolls known as the Skulltakers. As long as anyone can remember, the floodgates functioned without fault.
If the floodgates were malfunctioning, someone would need to brave the wrath of the Skulltaker trolls to determine what, if anything, could be done to repair the ancient Thassilonian structure before a cataclysmic flood washed the entire region away.
Maelin Shreed approached the heroes and explained that if they could solve the mystery behind the malfunctioning gate, Turtleback Ferry would offer an award of 1,000 gp to each of them.