Serpent Skull

Andy's Journal Day 38

Lifting the Curse

Last night, Toshe spent several hours studying the sheaf of papers taken from the mineral-encrusted cubbyhole. It seems they were a collection of notes on the history and magic of the ancient inhabitants of the island, written by Ieana. According to the notes, the only way to lift the Curse of Smugglers’ Shiv was to destroy the serpent altar in the dungeons below the lighthouse. Realizing that doing so was the only way off this accursed island, down into the depths the four of us went once more. We took with us several axes, shovels and other hard, metal tools useful for breaking stone.

As I entered the room and saw again the hideous altar, an involuntary shiver ran down my spine. Shaking my head, I steeled myself, crossed the threshold and soon the small room rang with sound of metal striking stone. The altar’s surface was incredibly hard and at first, only frustratingly small pieces chipped away. Once the surface had been broken away in some spots, the inner material broke more easily. Still, it took hours of backbreaking labor to transform the altar from a large serpent’s head into an indistinct pile of rubble.

As the last large fragment broke away, long gouts of blood began to flow from the altar’s base. At the same time, the room filled with the sound of hundreds, maybe thousands, of whispering voices. When the streams of blood hit the air, they puffed into a red mist, like water striking red hot metal turning into steam. Then came an unnatural gust of air, blowing the mist away. The whispers grew to screams and then howls of pain and rage, before fading away, along with the supernatural breeze. As the air stilled, and the voices faded, the floor shook violently, knocking me to the ground. I saw Mwembe and Toshe topple as well. When the last aftershock faded, it felt as if a great weight had been lifted from the air around us.

Then, our work finished, we headed back to the surface, to sunlight and fresh air. As we exited the lighthouse, I noticed Aerys and the others gathered around Sasha and Gelik, talking quietly. Gelik, still looking pale and drawn, was sporting shiny new replacements for his lost hands. His left was the mithril hook we’d found previously in nest of the Red Mountain Devil and his right was an odd crablike pincer device. Not wishing to intrude, I made my way to the shade of a large tree to rest until dinner.

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