The Maelstrom
We prepared as best as we could, and then dove into the icy water. Down we swam, light water at the top giving way to dim inky shades before turning into a blackness so deep our witchlights could barely penetrate. Finally we reached the bottom, ankles sinking into silt and debris over a tiled roadway. There was a faint illumination around us, and ahead was a sort of ziggurat.

We began to move forward, and the water around us vibrated with the words "WAVESTRIDER, I can sense you after all this time! Your protections fade, your strength is not what it once was. Come to me now for a swift end, or hide again for a slow and agonizing end!"

The fish, strangely formed to survive at these deaths, scattered before the voice, but another figure approached. Madra Va'aele, who we had met so long ago, came to speak with us. She warned us that there was not much time, that five of the seven guardians had fallen.

It was time for Padhraig to reclaim his mantle, and time for us to try to defeat the evil held within. The merfolk escorted us towards the maelstrom, until they reached a point where they could not pass without sacrificing their own safety.

Seven statues ringed the roiling water. Five stood in exhausted postures, hands up to avert the horror within. Only two remained fighting to keep The Schleich contained; Sura stood tall, braced against the maelstrom, and Deylu strained tiredly, one arm fallen against her side.

After some quick discussion we spread out among them, each giving them some of our power, to boost the guardians and restore them before Padhraig called for the mantle to come down. As they resumed their posts, there was a moment where the barrier grew translucent and we could see the creature within.

A towering giant, near 70 feet call. It was supported on six tentacles, each ending in a blood-red barb. Its head reminded me uncomfortably of the Brides we had dealt with in Treetown. The Schleich, a fearsome aberration.

We prepared ourselves for battle, cast our spells and hefted weapons, Padhraig called the mantle back to himself, and it began.

It struck at us with its tentacles and barbs, and with terribly strong magics. We were caught off-guard by the first, a vicious spread of caustic fluid through the water. It burned as it touched my skin, and the pain it caused was horrible and distracting. The Guardians were able to absorb its next big attack, two of them slumping to the ocean floor, but there was only going to be so much they could do.

We had to finish this, before it destroyed us all...
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