Pablo’s Game: The Sunken City

This teaser was written by Pablo, DM for the 2022 D&D Super Dungeon. His first game will be held on July 9, 2022. For details and registration, visit our web page.

The wind tore through the ship’s open window, sending ink, quills, and pages flying across the wooden deck of my quarters along with the stinging rain. Roused from a dreamless sleep, I winced and surveyed the room. The room was shrouded in a stygian blackness, framing the light of the gibbous moon on my desk with the stroke of the master-artist. I slipped out of my cot and walked to the window. The cool sea breeze licked my face as I looked up at the moon, enchanted by the silvery halo that encircled it. The moon was enormous and I could make out faint shapes upon its surface. I imagined that I saw a city upon the moon, filled with picturesque moon-towers and inhabited by happy moon-folk. Engrossed by my own imagination, I looked closer at the surface of the moon until my eye fell upon an odd eye-like formation in its center. It was bulbous and wide and its dreadful pupil was fixated on the ocean below me. I too looked deep into that murky abyss, yet saw only the reflection of the ship, drifting gently through the night.

When the day finally broke, the Captain informed me that he had found me still at the edge of my window, staring forlornly at the lapping waves. He is nothing but an idiotic old sailor! I was not merely looking at the surface of the sea, but trying to grasp at the wonder that lay beneath it. Throughout the rest of the day, I was unable to accomplish any of my usual navigational tasks, instead poring over hoary tomes of pelagic and celestial lore, pilfered from the private library of our ship’s mage. My research proved to be fruitless however.

As night fell again, my mind began to cloud with the weight of a sleepless night. Yet I still had not discovered a morsel of the truth which I so desired. A sliver of moonlight, a boon from the full moon, crept its way up the leather-bound volumes I was reading. Its dim light settled on a particular passage of the Liber Crepusculum, a book purportedly written by a mad priest of old Zhar who disappeared along with the city all those years ago. It read:

The gods have gone mad! The oceans churn, the air twists, and the very ground beneath our feet threatens to give way. Only the stars remain faithful to our cause. In my communion with those great gods above, I have been granted sight beyond sight and know the horrible truth of it all. The skies shall weep for ten-thousand nights, and this deluge will end all life but those below the sea. Look only to the ringed moon which the stars have illuminated to foretell our demise!

What the senile old priest wrote was utter madness, foolishness beyond foolishness. Yet I felt drawn to his strange ramblings. I glanced again at the cold moon outside and studied its ethereal rings. The moon itself began to resemble a single unblinking eye, staring at the impending doom described by the lunatic cleric. A strange shape caught my eye in the moonlit waters, a rectangular shape standing alone among the submerged dunes. My eyes widened as I noticed more and more structures dotting the ocean plane. They were buildings! Just like the ones I imagined on the surface of the moon. The lost city of Zhar was not lost, but sunk beneath the sea to avoid the coming apocalypse.

The following morning, I was found yet again staring at the open ocean through my window. The captain ordered me restrained to the brig after hearing my earnest entreaties to save our own ship by sending it beneath the sea, in imitation of that great city. There was a fear uncharacteristic to his voice, and his skin appeared terribly soft and parched. To my horror it seemed that the affliction had set itself upon the whole of the crew overnight, rendering them all fleshy creatures incapable of even proper movement, nor entirely coherent speech. Then to add insult to injury, I heard the pattering of raindrops on the roof of the deck above. The prophecy of Zhar! The end times! I had to do something. With my waning strength I wrenched open the iron bars of my cell and set to work. I tore at the wooden planks beneath the ship with my scaled hands, desperately trying to save the lives of my crew. Wheezing for lack of water, I lost consciousness right as a burst of water exploded into the vessel. I can only hope I was fast enough.