Staring Into The Abyss

Sailors On The Starless Sea

Date Played:
September 2nd, 2012
8:30PM – 3:30 AM

Game Time:
Freeday, 28th Goodmonth – 3200 e.c.
1:15PM

Into The Depths

Of the dozen or so rescued villagers, three are strong enough, or perhaps foolish enough, to join the wayward villagers on their quest for vengeance.

They are:

Drevous – The Navigator – has flint and steel in his pocket.
Reek – The Gongfarmer – has a sack of nightsoil tucked into his belt.
Phendris – The Rutabaga Farmer – wears a holy symbol around his neck.

Dakkon The Gambler puts on his new cloak and discovers a map sewn into the seams of the cloak. The map tells tales of an impending astrological event revealing the final resting place of a mighty barbarian war wizard and, presumably, his treasure hoard. This event is reported to occur in approximately one year on the 1st of Harvest 3201 e.c.

Narom The Shaman takes the finely crafted, chaotic torc off of the bullbeast’s neck and stashes it away. Although Narom sometimes shows a dark streak, he does not deem it wise to don the skull strewn necklace. Arnith Thym, The Barrister, has his eye on the bull beast’s mighty double bladed battle axe. The large steel axe heads unnerve his sensitivity to iron but the haft is solid oak and he deems it usable for now.

The group of villagers re-assembles and weighs their options. To the north are stairs leading down into the depths. Circling the tower is an ascending set of stone steps. The party winds it’s way up the steps and onto the parapet. From here they survey the area of decay that extends outward several hundred yards from the keep. Further out to the south west lies Dimsdale. A reminder of why they are here and, perhaps for some, a temptation to turn tail and run away, never to look back on the foul keep and the terror within.

The gatehouse is cleared and Blindorf jams the portcullis wench in place to ease their eventual escape. Out of routine habit, Reek cleans up the beast droppings in the corner and adds them to his sack.

The party heads back into the tower. Torches are lit and they proceed down into the bowels of the dark fortress. Berman’s sheep dog growls uneasily. After descending several stairs they reach a landing and see the glitter of coins on the ground. A trap is suspected but the coins prove too tempting and are pocketed. The elves and dwarves of the group immediately notice a concealed door to the left that was not completely closed. Warily they put their fingers in the gap and smoothly slide the door open with ease. Blindorf is impressed with the stonework and craftsmanship.

Cautiously they shine their lantern into a mostly empty storeroom. Cobwebs hang from the corners of the room, in the far end of the room lie three overturned chests and a few scattered coins. The chests are examined and one appears to have a false bottom. Attempts at prying are unsuccessful and hacking away at the chest may damage the items inside. Shamus notices a sliding panel on the back and slides it open. As he does, a sharp, spring loaded blade spins around and Shamus, displaying remarkable reflexes, pulls his hand back just in time. The blade misses his fingers and embeds into the side of the chest. Inside he finds two silver emerald rings, a bolt of fine cloth emblazoned with chaotic runes and a steel vial containing a black, sweet but strong smelling liquid. It looks to be enough for two large gulps.

The group continues on down the corridor and is faced with three decisions. In front of them is an opening to a larger, darker room. To the left is a door set in an alcove and to the right is a 3.5’ high tunnel.

Some of the group keeps watch while the rest open the door to the left. It creaks open loudly and reveals another mostly barren room. A soft glow barely illuminates the room. Peering around the corner reveals a desk with a still burning candle on it. There are books, papers a quill and ink pot. In front of the candle is a hatchet buried deep into the wooden desk. Dark stains drip down the desk and onto the floor. Closer inspection reveals a severed hand and pooling blood. Arnith The Barrister examines the books and they are filled with arcane symbols and text. He recognizes them as magical incantations of some sort and tucks them away. He picks up a few sheets of loose paper and begins to read the journal entries.

“Ok, ok that’s enough.” Shamus interrupts, attempting to spare Habrick some of the gory details.

The implications of the journal are clear. Whomever is behind the abductions and the horrors of Morlan’s keep has been in contact with an unholy being not of this plane. This so called Lord of Corruption and Malformation has promised untold power and knowledge in exchange for performing tasks for him. The first would be to resurrect Morlan the chaos champion in a ceremonial sacrifice of blood and gold. Morlan will occupy his keep and raise an army to decimate the surrounding lands. Afterwards, the writer will head to the Godless Pit in The Wilds and nurture the abyssal leviathan therein.

The writer appears to get increasingly unstable as the days wear on, the final entry was written that day. He mentions the need to resemble Cadixtat, The Sundered Titan. After finishing his entry, his final act appears to be the severing of his own hand. Narom’s attraction to the macabre compels him to take the hand for future “use”. Strange, incomprehensible writing follows the last entry. It is assumed this may be the author’s name.

The group discusses these findings and decides to explore the tunnel. Blindorf volunteers to take a look and sees the tunnel slopes downward and to the right. A small scouting party forms up and plunges in. After a few feet the tunnel opens up facing a large stone door engraved with pentagrams and runes. They glow with a soft silvery light. Carmine translates the runes with extreme ease. They read:

the burning purge, which scours the earth
the hardened glamour, stilling life
the baleful storm, heedless to supplication
the raging tempest, devourer from within
banes four I place upon this gate:

Fire, Ice, Storm and Hate

It is agreed, no one likes the sound of that and they decide to turn back. As they enter the tunnel, a faint wind blows almost like a whisper in their ears.

Battle in The Dread Hall

The group proceeds straight into a large, narrow chamber with a reflecting pool running down the middle of the room. Dark, musty water runs down the walls and drips into the pool. As they enter the room a pair of spears flies out of the darkness ahead. Thankfully, both spears miss their marks and the villagers take defense positions within the room. A pair of black, leathery skinned cockroach-headed humanoids advance toward them, short swords drawn, one on each side of the pool.

As the roaches are engaged in melee, another volley of spears flies out from the rear of the room. One spear appears to strike Habrick but actually takes the recently freed Phendris directly in the gut. He grasps at the spear and collapses to the ground dead. Out of the shadows strides the spear throwing ape men. Gulgus bravely runs up to engage the ape man and is pummeled to death by the ape’s massive fists. Narom strikes next and kills the ape man before he can attack again.

On the other side of the reflecting pool, Arnith engages the remaining ape man and delivers a devastating overhead blow from his recently recovered battle axe. Blood and bone splinters fly as the apeman’s body is cleaved in two.

After the battle the group surveys their surroundings. The room is about 85’ long by 35’ wide. The massive reflecting pool runs the length of the room and intricate mosaics line the walls on either side. These mosaics depict scenes of sacrifices, offerings to a tentacled beast and what is presumed to be the Chaos champions themselves, Morlan & Felan. In each corner is an alcove with musty old ceremonial robes covered in chaotic sigils stitched in silver thread.

A plaque is found at the head of the pool that reads: “Here lies the souls foolish enough to challenge the chaos lords” A few of the villagers feel compelled to look into the pool. As they do, several skulls emanating a soft golden light float up from the murky pool. Although intimidating at first, they resonate with a vengeful, determined spirit. The skulls are left in their eternal resting place, deep beneath the dark keep.

Sailors On The Starless Sea

The villagers compose themselves and continue onward down several flights of steps. The seemingly endless plunge levels out and widens to reveal a surreal, subterranean landscape. Before them is a narrow sandy beach and beyond that a vast underground sea stretches as far as the eye can see. The sounds of distant tribal drums, howls and screams can be heard across the water. A longship with a dragon head prow floats about 100ft offshore. Past the boat, through the fog, a steady pulsating glow leads to the source of the screams and howls. Berman’s sheepdog growls uneasily.

It is decided to extinguish all light sources and the humans rely on the infra vision of the elves and dwarves.

A large standing stone sits on the beach next to a stream trickling into the sea. Narrow steps wind up the standing stone and it appears to be carved with intricate symbols and arcane writing. A few of the villagers ascend the narrow steps and find a half-melted candle in a shallow depression at the top. Using flint and steel, the candle is lit. Under an unknown power, the dragon long ship silently glides towards the shore.

They decide to retrieve a few of the beast man corpses from the reflecting pool hall and bring them as potential cover or sacrifices.

The group warily boards the ship. Right before boarding the ship, Carmine looks back at the standing stone and it’s carved surface. Perhaps there is some clue buried within the arcane writing. He begins to read the symbols from a distance but is compelled by them and walks closer to read them. His hands trace the symbols as he begins to lose himself in their meanings. A feeling of dread rises within as the abyss and it’s tentacled horrors begin to worm their way into his consciousness. His ego dissolves and is replaced with a singular motive to rip out the nearest beating heart and offer it to the tentacled demons of the abyss.

Abruptly his hand stops reading the runes and reaches for his weapon. Sword drawn, he turns about face and rushes towards Dakkon the Gambler, the last man to get on board. Blindorf and Drevous react quickly as the humans are left wondering what is going on. Blindorf strikes with a subdual blow, Drevous quickly follows up with one of his own sending Carmine head over heals, face down and unconscious in the shallow water. Arnith pulls Carmine out of the water, takes his sword and ties him up.

A few minutes later, Carmine awakens and struggles with his bonds, gnashing his teeth as he tries in vain to attack the nearest person. A minute later, Carmine shakes his head and regains himself, wondering why he is tied up and with no recollection of what happened.

The group boards the boat again and, magically, it begins to glide towards the ever increasing sounds of drums, screams and howls.

“Are you yourself now?” Arnith asks Carmine.
“I, I believe so, I don’t know what happened.” responds Carmine.
Arnith hands Carmine his sword back and continues “I don’t know what we will be facing, but you may need this.” He pauses for a second. “Do anything like that again and I will cut you in half.” Carmine glances at Arnith’s gore covered, double bladed battle axe and nods solemnly.

Tentacles From the Deep

The rest of the journey continues in silence until the boat abruptly stops. Six tentacles rise from out of the water in front of the boat. They are black, slimy and covered in pinchers, spikes and thorns. They pulsate and wave about expectantly. The group looks about unsure of what to do next. The corpses of the beast men are thrown into the water. The tentacles quickly seize them and rip them apart underwater. Seconds later, the tentacles rise again, unsatisfied with a dead offering.

Time is running out, the tentacles writhe about and look as if they are going to strike the boat. Berman’s sheepdog growls uneasily. Without hesitation, Arnith grabs the mutt by it’s scruff and tosses it into the water. The dog yelps in the air as it splashes in. He begins to doggie paddle towards the boat, tongue lolling about in a stupid grin. With surprising speed and fury, the tentacles wrap around the dog and pull him underwater. A red cloud spreads across the surface of the water, the tentacles retract and the boat begins to move again. Berman eyes Arnith uneasily but says nothing.

The Temple of Chaos

The sounds of drums grow louder as a giant ziggurat comes into view. Around the ziggurat are several ramps leading to the top. Beastmen beating on drums lead a procession of scared villagers around the base of the ziggurat. At the top, a giant armored figure moves about, lit from an infernal light deep within the structure.

The screams and pleas of their fellow villagers are heard. The group discuss their options as the procession is slowly making it’s way up the ramps. They walk halfway up the first ramp and decide to use a rope to climb the face of the second ramp. They scramble to the top and are end up around the corner of the marching procession.

It is deemed too tough to climb up the second face to the top of the ziggurat but Drevous thinks he can make it. Most of the party continues up the last set of ramps except for Reek, Shamus and Habrick. They bravely stay back in an attempt to hold off the horde of beast men and rescue some of the villagers.

Drevous climbs up the ramp face and bears witness to a brutal, sadistic sacrifice. He sees three robed figures surrounding a glowing, red-hot pit in the center of the ziggurat. They are casting villagers into the pit along with large amounts of gold and coin. The obvious leader has a red, scaly lizard face and is hoisting an armored effigy up into the air. Flanking him are two goat headed, bulbous eyed monstrosities. They see him climb up and they immediately attack. This was far more than Drevous bargained for. He was quite sure there was another level to the ziggurat before he reached the top. Perhaps the strange environment is playing tricks with his eyes.

Drevous reacts quickly and runs around the enemies to join up with the rapidly advancing party.

From high above, somewhere up the cavern wall a shout is heard: “Kill Them, You Fools!” A dark, hooded figure on a small rock outcropping is seen waving it’s arms furiously.

Upon hearing this, some of the beast men drop their drums and surge forward pulling the chained villagers along the ground. They turn the corner and are faced with the rear guard consisting of a Slave, a Blacksmith and a Gongfarmer. Together they hold off the advancing beast men and shrug off their attempts to drag them up the ramp towards the glowing pit.

Back at the top, the shaman leader and his acolytes battle the remaining party. In the ensuing melee, Dakon is disemboweled by one of the acolyte’s claw slashes. Drevous is wounded but survives. Carmine scores a devastating hit with his flail and Berman succeeds with a mighty blow that stuns one of the acolytes and kills him. Belvin kills the remaining acolyte with a well placed strike to the head. It’s eyes bulge out as it crumples to the ground.

The shaman throws the effigy in the pit. Suddenly the pulsating light is reduced to a faint glow. The ground begins to rumble.

Narom critically strikes the shaman with a crushing flail strike to the face. As the shaman falls to the ground a massive molten warrior resembling Morlan rises from the pit. It wears intricately detailed plate armor and is gripping a wicked, three headed flail.

Meanwhile back down the ramp, the rear guard is holding their ground. The beast men attack with spears and grapple attempts. Reek is killed by a wayward spear thrust. Shamus gets seized by a beast man but shakes off the attack with ease. Before he has time to recover, a second beast man runs him through with a spear. Gaining the momentum, the beast men surge forward but Habrick digs in and holds them at bay.

At the top of the ziggurat the molten warrior rapidly cools and begins to crack. The cracks begin to spread and suddenly, Morlan bursts out of the stone and attacks with fury. He strikes with his flail and crushes Scalen Weiss to the ground in a bloody heap. The remaining members surround Morlan and desperately attack. Belven strikes successfully followed by Narom. Morlan attacks again and swings his mighty flail and splinters Berman’s skull, thereby reuniting him with his beloved sheep dog.

Carmine Tesseract delivers a stirring, rousing speech to motivate and inspire his fellow villagers. He then immediately and bravely hops down the ramp away from danger and towards the dragon boat.

At the sight of their god, the beast men are stunned and drop to their knees in reverence and awe. Habrick keeps up the fight, cleaving beast men apart with his short sword.

Morlan is wounded but ready to strike again when Eddie Feltree scores a devastating hit with his spear. The chaos warrior transforms back into molten lava that pools on the ground leaving behind his armor and flail. Arnith retrieves the flail while Narom picks up the armor. As they do so, the lava reforms into a column of fire and wildly lashes out at Arnith with a desperate final attack. Arnith’s life is spared by mere inches.

The hooded figure on the rocky outcropping cries out in terror and is not seen again.

With Morlan truly dead, the cavern begins to rumble. The seas are growing violent as small rocks begin to fall. The ziggurat pitches and buckles. A mass of coins remains at the top but the party wisely leaves them behind and makes preparations to escape. Not knowing what else they may face, they pick up their fallen comrades equipment as they make a mad dash for the boat.

As the last man boards the boat an immense crashing sound is heard as the entire western wall of the cavern collapses. A torrential splash is followed by a massive swell of water that heads straight for the boat. The group holds on as the wave crashes into the back of the boat lifting it up and over the ziggurat.

House sized boulders fall all around the craft as the wave propels them toward the jagged cavern wall ahead. As their lives flash before their eyes, impending death certain, the waters rush downward as the boat is propelled into a dark cavern. All goes quiet and very, very dark.

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davegriffith

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