Participants: Paul (Myles), Stan (Ash), Damien (various); missing Matt (Barundar) and Cameron (Amon)
As we last left the party, Renaldo had succumbed to the icy grip of death at the hands of the Chaos Cult and Ash and Myles had followed the trail of blood from the lighthouse through the town to the chapel wherein they found a ladder that led to a hidden temple of Dagon….
The mayor of the town [Terrence Rout, “T. Rout”] stands in front of a mass of townsfolk delivering a dark sermon. Renaldo’s corpse rests on the ground in front of him, two acolytes collecting his blood in a bowl. The acolytes hand the bowl to the mayor, addressing him as the high priest before bowing deeply and returning to Renaldo’s body.
At the height of the demonic rites, the high priest/mayor holds the bowl of sacrificial blood high above his head, then begins to drink it. The crowd of cultists goes wild with adoration as the priest finishes the last of Renaldo’s blood.
Terrence Rout, high priest of the Chaos Cult lurches backwards and drops the bowl. The bowl shatters as the priest begins to convulse and writhe on the ground. A hush falls over the crowd, and Ash and Myles who have managed to go unnoticed thus far look at each other worriedly.
The high priest’s skin begins to wriggle and bulge awkwardly. Suddenly, a large green arm shoots forth from his back. The priest rises to his feet, but it’s obvious to all around that something isn’t quite the same about him… Everyone’s worries are confirmed as more appendages break through his skin. The high priest’s skin begins splitting at his head, and an impossibly large monstrous form emerges from the shell of skin.
An enormous lizard-ish monster escapes from the high priest’s skin, throwing the remains against the wall with one of its many, disjointed arms. Horns and scales protrude from its entire 30’ length and it is supported by a dozen or so oddly placed appendages. It’s “face” consists of a single, gaping maw of teeth that line the entirety of the opening, even extending down into what one would normally call a throat.
The beast quickly turns on the cultists, decapitating and devouring both acolytes. Ash notes that the crowd is surprisingly still supportive of the recent developments as the monster begins to reduce those in front into a bloody paste that it shovels into its mouth with its extra hands. It’s only when the monster has gotten through about half of the cultists that the remainder’s will begins to break and they run for the ladder.
Myles and Ash take this opportunity to try to hide in the chamber, but Ash is spotted. It’s not
that he noticed the abomination looking at him (due to a lack of things Ash could identify as eyes) but a darkness sweeps over him as demonic ramblings fill his head.
Ash, still battered and bruised from the encounters at the lighthouse decides to flee, pivoting and turning for the ladder. He cries out to Myles that he will serve as a distraction to provide time to recover Renaldo’s body. As he crests the ladder, Ash calls back for his remains to be delivered to Father Ambrose.
The monster, having dispatched all of the cultists, lurches forward and, in a single movement slings its body up the ladder and breaks through the ground into the chapel above in pursuit of Ash.
Myles leaves the shadows and recovers Renaldo’s corpse, throwing him on his back and, wading through the gory remnants of the Chaos Cultists, makes his way up the ladder.
Above, Ash runs for his life through the town. Before he gets too far, the wall of the chapel explodes in a shower of splinters and boards as the abomination breaks through into the night. The noise draws a number of townsfolk out of the surrounding buildings, providing plenty of targets for the monster’s fury.
Ash cries out for everyone to return to their homes, but many remain outside. The monster sets upon a group of innocents, devouring them in one quick bite. Myles reaches the now ruined chapel at the top of the ladder and makes his way through the ruined town in pursuit of Ash.
With the monster close on his trail (and currently stomping a group of orphans into a bloody mush), Ash catches sight of the lighthouse in his peripheral vision. A wave of insight washes over him as he realizes that the purifying light of the stone will probably destroy the monster. Ash calls out to Myles, informing him of his plan to reach the lighthouse.
The duo flee through the town as quickly as possible as the monster continues to wreak havoc on the town behind them. Ash casts light on a bolt from his pack and throws it behind himself to test his theory and, sure enough, the monster reels from the light screaming out in pain, buying he and Myles a bit more of a lead.
The town guards finally arrives on the scene and are surveying the damage from the rampage as they catch sight of the monster. They bravely draw their crossbows and plink away at the beast, drawing its attention. The monster approaches and eviscerates one of the guards, throwing a second into the wall, reducing him into a pile of broken bones. The third takes an opportunity to flee and rushes back to the guard house.
After a series of further close calls, Myles and Ash arrive at the gate that separates the town and leads to the lighthouse.
As the duo sprints across the wooden bridge towards the lighthouse, the beast vaults over the gated wall, viscera still dripping from its maw. The beast lurches for the bay, where, as it dives into the water it shows its true potential for speed, ripping through the water at an incredible pace. The beast closes the gap between itself and Myles and Ash in moments and launches itself from the water and into the bridge, destroying it from under the party’s feet.
Finally reaching the lighthouse island, Ash leads Myles up the spiraling staircase towards the holy light and the beast launches itself from the depths, grasping at the exterior of the stone tower. Spare appendages reach through windows and tear at the ankles of Ash and Myles as they sprint to the top of the tower, just ahead of the beast.
Myles finds himself on the top of the tower first and sets about trying to turn the altar into which the magical stone was set. He pushes with all of his might, his feet slipping on the smooth stone surface but to no avail.
Ash runs past the floundering warrior and focuses on the stone itself. He grasps the floating stone and spins it around towards the unmistakable sound of the monster scraping its way up the side of the tower just in time to blast it in the face with holy light.
The monster’s skin instantly boils under the intense light, emitting a green-black smoke from its writhing form as it flails about in agony. The demonic mumblings present in Myles and Ash’s heads becomes a scream before going silent. The beast suffers one final seizure before going limp, its weight dragging it back off of the tower and onto the rocks far below before sinking into the depths of the sea!
Myles and Ash breathe a heavy sigh of relief and are further consoled to realize that the stone of the lighthouse is now slowly rotating around, casting its protective light on land and sea.
They hurry back to the town to survey the damage and aid the survivors. Ash is able to save the lives of a few wounded townsfolk while Myles tries to bring calm back to the village and rescue survivors from beneath collapsed buildings.
The remaining townsfolk are all out of their homes, helping in the recovery. As the scene comes back under control Ash and Myles are left to address the crowd. Ash explains the cult activity and, as he’s speaking to the crowd, realizes that many non-cultists in the town strongly resemble fish.
As he pieces the bits of information together Ash realizes that things are worse than they seemed. He explains to the crowd that he suspects that many among them are actually tainted by the cult and are possibly the offspring of human/fishfolk pairings, destined to eventually become fishfolk. He explains that he doesn’t know how to cure this “illness”, but that he will investigate it throughout his travels and return to help.
A few people in the crowd come forward with rumors about shady fishermen and town officials had made a deal with the deep ones, giving some women from the town for breeding in exchange for increased fish production to put into the trade. They also reveal that around 50 people from the town had gone to Redmark for the festival of the Weeping Angel. Ash and Myles prescribe that each of the 50 be taken up the lighthouse and be subject to its light as guards look for adverse reactions, explaining that those that react unnaturally should be neutralized before they reestablish the cult presence.
As Ash and Myles conclude the town meeting, they establish that the one remaining and healthy guard (Donald) be made the interim mayor [since he IS the highest ranking official still alive…]
After the crowd disperses, Myles and Ash set about trying to find out more information about the cult, but no one knows anything more. After searching many of the former town leader’s homes and offices and turning up nothing, they finally surmise that the cult (and the fishfolk) likely live in an underwater town off the shore – as is evidenced by the statues at the base of the lighthouse that point out to sea. Before they set out, Ash insists that they destroy the dark temple to Dagon. Myles topples the great statue and Ash sets about cleansing the site of all dark symbols. Myles discovers two large [softball sized] rubies that were set into the statues eyes, estimating their worth at 50gp each. The duo set out with Renaldo’s body in tow for Otemshire.
2 softball sized rubies, 50gp each
As Myles and Ash complete the two day journey to Otemshire they arrive at a location that Myles knows well, a large tree beset with crow cages for holding of prisoners. A large crowd surrounds the base of the tree and one looming figure stands at its center. Two guards stand in Myles and Ash’s path and block their way.
Meanwhile, a surly looking Halfling approaches from the North, having just passed through Otemshire also approaches the tree and is blocked by another pair of guards. Following closely behind this Halfling are an odd trio of manservants. All together the guards are boggled by the four strangers in front of them until the Halfling pipes up, “What are youse stopping us for, we’re trying to LEAVE your two-bit town.. Don’t you know who I am? I’m LORD Darius McFoggle you numbskulls, let me pass!”
Myles flashes his credentials as a former guard and pushes past the two rookie guards blocking his way. He approaches the hanging tree to find a most curious sight, a gnoll, standing peacefully in the midst of a raging crowd. The gnoll is handcuffed with simple manacles which Myles notes he could easily break if he so chose. Myles recognizes that the gnoll is calling out clumsily goblin-tongue, a language he knows.
In broken goblin, Myles and the gnoll converse as Ash works to hush the crowd. The gnoll explains that he came to Otemshire under a white flag to warn of a “dark evil” but ran into a woman and was quickly waylaid by the guards and accused of all sorts of evil and crimes before being brought to the cages.
Despite Myles’ pleas for his release, the gnoll is thrown into the cage. Before continuing on their way, Myles assures the gnoll that he will do all that he can to assure his release. The pair continue Northward towards Otemshire, passing an odd group being accosted by more novice guards. Myles and Ash pay no mind until they hear a name that cuts them to their still-grieving hearts – “McFoggle”.
Myles hears the Halfling saying the name and stops on a dime, confronting the small man, pointing to the corpse of Renaldo as, “the REAL Darius McFoggle…” to which the Halfling retorts, “Woah-ho-ho there, tinman.. I’m tellin’ yas, I’M Darius McFoggle. I heard someone was using my name down South and I decided to come, uh—investigate.” Fearing that this odd group are agents sent by the Dawn’s Master, Myles places his hand on his sword and says, “If you’re agents of the Dawn’s Master, you’d better just come out and say it…” Darius throws his hands up and suggests that the group takes his conversation somewhere moreprivate where he reveals that he’s no friend of the Dawn’s Master himself and he’s “certainly not working with him… anymore.” Darius suggests that the late Renaldo must have overheard his name back in Nimroth because he’s “kindof a big deal back in Halanor.”
Darius reveals that he had dealings in the past with the Dawn’s Master with “merchandise” but won’t go so far as to admit that he dealt in drugs or stone statuettes.
Myles asks about the three folks behind Darius and they introduce themselves in turn. A dwarf with a yellow beard and goggles explains that his name is Jack and that he’s a trap-smith. A bald elf steps forth and introduces himself as Qin Ban, a scout. A really old human introduces himself as Winston, the beast of burden, “somewhat of an expert in that field”.
Darius explains that he is not the lord of fisticuffs as quoted by Renaldo, but instead is a
rather stealthy ranged fighter, adept with the light crossbow. Now that Darius’ mission to head to Lanmis has been cut a few hundred miles short, he offers to travel with Myles and Ash as they head back North, an offer the duo accepts.
As the group heads to Otemshire, Myles takes note of the Badlands to the North. He explains that an ever-present storm ravages its center, but he is greatly concerned to see that the storm is significantly larger, something thae he’s never seen happen before. He guesses that this is related to the “dark evil” mentioned by the gnoll.
Before the newly expanded group can enter the town, a group of mounted men ride up to them, one of whom Myles knows well, Cletus, the new-ish captain of the guard and “ass-kisser supreme.” Cletus dismounts and approaches Myles and the group with an arrogant air. He and Myles almost immediately being arguing over every possible topic; the storm, the gnoll, Cletus’ post as guard captain – everything. Ash and Darius are left to make small talk as the two former colleagues bicker.
Myles suggests that Cletus and the guards should listen to the gnoll’s warnings, an idea that Cletus wholeheartedly shoots down as absurd. Cletus threatens Myles and the group as he mounts his horse by saying, “If I hear that you’re interfering with my prisoner, I will not hold back in retaliation.” Myles shocks the arrogant guard captain by saying that he, “hopes it comes to that…”
As the group continues on they hear Cletus addressing the crowd around the hanging tree, claiming credit for protecting the town from “evil intruders” like the peaceful gnoll and explains that a “strike force” from the town will soon be venturing in to cleanse the Badlands…