HELSWANE DUNGEON QUEST ONE: HELSWANE WAKES It was a night that legends were made from: dark legends, passed in whispers by tired old men and frightened children. When morning came they would say this place was cursed and none should dare venture here. Yet that was little comfort for those now caught in the heart of that darkness. The storm had come from nowhere, brewing like witch-poision in the space of minutes. And now, as the screams of the sailors made doubtless, there was something terrible in the water. Darius turned his face from the third longboat as it snapped like dry-wood, its cargo of convicts, soldiers and mercenaries dragged down into the raging waters. Their thrashing bodies were swallowed by the smooth rise and fall of serpentine scale. The beast, whatever it was, was huge and it's hunger insatiable. In the background the royal frigate was folding beneath the waves. It had launched only four of its rowboats before going under, its belly gouged by phantom rocks. Darius was in the leading one and huddled with royal soldiers as it careered towards the cave entrance. The opening, dark and foreboding, was the only breach in the gargantuan, towering cliffs of the Uncharted Island. His heart was racing, slamming against his ribs, as if the soul of every dead sailor was being spat inside his chest cavity to hammer at his bones. "ROW! KEEP ROWING!" his Captain was bellowing above the storm and the cries from the other boats. Perched upon the bow, the bearded veteran was resolute in the face of the waves, the lashing rain and the swallowing darkness. "BY GOD, WE'LL CONQUER THIS LAND!" The cave seemed to suck them in, the longboat soaring over rocks and following the swell. Darius heard whimpers behind him as something huge rose from the water to tear apart another boat behind them. He could not look. In his mind's eye he saw teeth and scales and endless, slithering folds. Dozens were perishing, pulled into darkness, scrabbling against the cliffs, dashed upon the rocks... He was shaken to his senses. His captain was gripping his shoulder. "THIS IS IT, CORPORAL!" Behind him, carved steps could be seen at the end of the cave, leading to a doorway. The entrance to Helswane Dungeon. "WHEN WE MAKE LAND, TAKE THE ARCHERS AND SECURE THE--" Liquid sprayed on Darius's face. Not the sea this time, but something warmer and more cloying. He blinked and saw the Captain's throat had been torn, an ugly and mishapen javelin-head protruding from his neck. The veteran clattered forward, landing against Darius then toppling over into the water. "NO!" The torches picked them out - shapes emerging from the doorway ahead and onto the steps. Their flesh glistened, sickly green like the serpent in the waters, and with barred teeth they roared and squawked. With the enclosure of the cave, the sound was terrifying. As waves swelled again the longboat was propelled into a hail of javelins. Darius moved on instinct, diving forward as the soldiers around him were impaled. He crashed into the water, scraping limbs on the jagged rocks. For a moment there was utter panic, his lungs filling with water, then he found the smooth edge of the submerged steps and scrambled up, smelling already the foetid stink of the Goblin defenders. One of the greenskins came for him, bounding down the steps with a morning star now that its javelin had been thrown. Darius gasped, pulling shield and warhammer from his back and swinging with all his might. The hammer smashed through the rotting, wooden shield of the beast and crushed its chest, propelling the goblin against the cavern wall. Death was instant, and with blood on his hammer the Paladin struggled to his feet, hoping for all the world that he was not alone in this fight.