In which our heroes(?) return to a fateful place, encounter an old enemy, and retrieve an incredible treasure at a great cost (to others).
In the middle of the night, Nail is roused from his sleep by a noise, only to discover a phantasmal creature in his room. He calls for help as the creature takes shape: the shadowy beast they fought in the underwater ruins. The party fights the monster through the halls of the inn, eventually hurling it downstairs to crash through a table and dissolve into mist.
Through use of his esoteries, Xan discovers that the essence of the creature somehow attaches itself to a carafe of water, infusing itself into the glass. When he mentions this aloud, Zaphon promptly takes the carafe outside and smashes it to pieces. Aghast, Xan and Nail scoop up the pieces and find a blacksmith’s forge to throw them in.
In the morning, Nail and Xan awkwardly inform the blacksmith what happened, convincing him to sell them — at Zaphon’s expense — the coals of the furnace and everything he had made that day: a bucket of nails. After a tense conversation, the party squeezes the 50 shins to pay the blacksmith out of the innkeeper, Driscoll, and Zaphon.
The party learns of an opportunity to go on an expedition with the Red Fleet aboard the White Fin, a famous giant whale with a city on its back. Their destination: the underwater ruins that the party visited on behalf of Dracogen. During their interaction with the crew of the White Fin, the party is shocked to learn that Finn had a brief career in the Fleet. Why it ended, he doesn’t say.
After three days at sea, the party arrives above the ruins. The crew of the White Fin activates a gravity generator, pushing the waters aside all the way down to the ocean floor. The party rappels down through the cavernous gap — except for Finn, who swims expertly down the side of the shaft.
As the party descends, schools of armored dolphin creatures collect around the edges of the gap. Suddenly, they begin to leap from the walls of water and attack the dangling adventurers. Nail, Driscoll, and Jacob attempt to fight them off, while Xan and Zaphon rapidly descend to escape. With some effort, including some incredible acrobatic shooting from Jacob, the dolphin creatures are defeated. Unfortunately, one of their corpses plummets directly into Xan, bludgeoning him badly.
The party reaches the ruins without further event, only to find the door open. A quick search reveals several signs of life. Nail dumps the “cursed” items in a pile of excrement before the party returns to the site of their fight with the shadow beast, then continues their search through the structure.
The party navigates through a chamber with a giant fan to find a side room. As they explore it, a small, simian-looking man sneaks up on them with a large wrench in hand. Startled, the party pummels the creature, which takes much more effort than they expected.
Cautiously, they then proceed through a door into what appears to be a large meat locker. Nail learns — through a sudden information dump — that the pale creatures hanging from the hooks throughout the room are de-evolved humanoids that have reverted to a fungal form. The party then makes an even more grisly discovery on a single hook: a severed human arm.
Past the eerie room, the party finds what appears to be a well-tended vegetable garden. Above the garden, the ceiling is covered in vines, and the party spies movement. A melee breaks out as a throng of monkey men lunges from the foliage. After a few moments of brutal combat, Xan activates a cypher that prevents everyone in the room from fighting. A sudden, unexpected truce is formed, and the monkey men lead the party to their king.
In a makeshift throne room — decorated with, among other things, crude paintings of a great whale with a white fin — the party meets the monkey king: a man, covered in tribal finery, the stump of his missing arm covered in blades. Unfortunately for Zaphon, it is the man he condemned to an underwater grave, who immediately recognizes him and pounces, consumed by rage.
Thinking quickly, Driscoll creates an illusionary wall between the two combatants, buying enough time for the party to convince the monkey king that they can free him and lead his people to the surface. In their conversation, they also learn of what could be a numenera treasure, to which the king leads them.
A giant luminous crystal awaits them, connected directly to the ruins and surrounded by pens of the fungus creatures. The monkey men and their king lay on, slaughtering the creatures between them and the crystal. The party successfully decouples the crystal, and the monkey men begin to carry it out.
Immediately, the ruins begin to shake and pitch to one side. The party and their new accomplices hurry to the exit only to find it pointing straight down at the sandy ocean floor twenty feet (?) below. Carefully, the party makes their exit and looks for a means of escape.
They see the elevator descending from the White Fin, but too slowly: the gravity well begins breaking down, and water begins to fill the gap from the bottom. Xan uses a teleportation cypher to jump to the elevator, rigging it to descend dangerously rapidly.
With moments to spare, the elevator reaches the bottom, and the party jumps on as the monkey men load the crystal and climb aboard. The few sailors manning the elevator prepare to repel the simian invaders, and the monkey men respond aggressively as the elevator begins to ascend. The party’s only means of survival becomes a swarm of chaos.
In the melee, Zaphon eyes the monkey king, vowing to himself not to let the man reach the surface alive. The monkey king meets Zaphon’s gaze, detects his evil intent, and charges. The two battle next to the railing, threatening to fall into the abyss, when Zaphon (?) uses a deadly cypher, injecting the monkey king with explosive poison — which is set to activate when he intends to attack Zaphon. The monkey king’s head detonates, and his body plunges into the waters.
Meanwhile, Xan and Nail grapple with the controls of the elevator, pushing it hard to outpace the rapidly gaining waters, and the monkey men dispatch the remaining sailors, leaving themselves and the party careening toward the surface. Xan and Nail manage to slow the elevator to non-lethal speeds just in time, and they elevator arrives safely at the White Fin.
The awestruck monkey men catch sight of the great whale and bow in worship. The party offers them as laborers to the captain, many of whose men were killed in the ascent. After an uneventful return trip to Long Beach, the party offers the crystal to the local Aeon Priests, who gladly pay a hefty sum so they can use it as a power source for one of their most important devices.