Conquering the Barbarian Altanis: Session 13
|Brother Kallahan||Cleric level 1||Crooked, broken nose; big bags under eyes; long hair, bald spot hidden under old pilgrim's hat; and emaciated figure. Mosquitoes and the smell of dampness always accompanies him.|
|Sashundo||Dwarf level 1||A cube-shaped dwarf with with massive, floor-sweeping braid and very long eyelashes. Dressed in black-and-yellow plate mail.|
|Gabriel Faria||Elf level 1||Cravatted silk shirt and a gold-encrusted rapier are all this 7th son of a duke needs to carve his own empire.|
|Amanda Hugencuise||Thief level 1||A new girl in town, claiming to be foreign exchange student, up for some “exciting missions” and enjoying the local cuisine.|
|Taaaz||Fighter level 1||Tall figure whose skinny frame is hidden behind plate armour he never takes off—including the helmet.|
Sashundo's report linked at the end of the post.
Flowerbloom 9th, Fireday
“Good to see you back... Where is your silent friend?” Theo greeted Gabriel and Arradir as soon as they walked though Gates of Antil. “My condolences, he seemed like a good squire.”
“Come, Sister Silente is waiting for us.” he guided the duo through the unfamiliar streets “She instructed me to take you to the Hare's Head inn. You've been smart to carefully wrap the totem.” he explained as they walked far from the shade thrown by the Sky God's monumental temple.
The inn was as unique as its name—it'd be difficult to imagine a more generic place—and so were its patrons. “She is waiting for you on the second floor. This is where I take my leave.”
“What kind of sick game are you playing!” luckily, Gabriel's tongue was faster than Silente's mace. Only now he realised how big of a woman she is. Silente listened to his whole story, all the while holding her mace up high. She relaxed after some time, but kept squinting at him.
“This is Brother Bartwell's eagle. He set out two weeks ago; and we'd expect him back in some two weeks from now.”
“I don't trust you.”
“I want you to take me there. Gather whatever and whomever you need by next sunrise—we leave at the earliest hour.”
“Why don't you trust me my lady? Have I not done your bidding. Have my subject's blood not been shed in order to return to you this sacred object, which, as it happens, is exactly the object you described to me. And I have told you there is a second totem in the same place. I will be happy to guide you to the location, so long as I may claim my own reward; the coins I mentioned earlier.”
“Deeds speak louder than words. If you speak true, then you will join me in glory of vanquishing this beast and recovering our holy symbols! All coin therein are yours to take for might makes right!” as she clasped her forearms audibly.
“Then it shall be done, let us make merry and toast the dead. Let me warn you that whatever creature haunts the dark caverns is from the underworld, I only saw it wreathed in shadow and was chased away by its minions. It will be a deadly mission. I may require even more goods than before, companions, and even some retainers.”
Gabriel continued “Do you know any goodly youngmen fit to make a nobles squire?”
“Brother Theo will bring you all the mundanes you might need. Just give him your list. Antil is full of virile men. Remember that this is a covert mission. I don't want anyone whom might recognise me or what we are doing. Drunken Whore, Hare's Head, and Seven Vultures might have the right persons for the task. And so might the docks.”
“Pah, no dock worker is fit to be a nobles man aid. This you surely know. I shan't be in the company of peasants. I am looking for a good strong yeoman of clean blood.”
“I'll ask brother Theo to join us. This shall be a good test for him.”
“Excellent my lady, am I understanding you correctly that Theo shall be entrusted to me as squire?”
“Absolutely not. He will join me on this holy crusade!”
“Then point me in the direction of the lesser nobles of this city. I require a seneschal!”
“Then go and find one, what do I care!” she picks up the totem—with much more ease than Gabriel did—and went for the doors “That pouch is for your 'services.' Tomorrow at dawn—by the gates!” and out she went.
Gabriel squinted at her insult, but picked up the purse none the less. It counted 51 gold pieces. Not to be discouraged, he went on to squeeze Brother Theo for information about his potential new squire. Alas, the acolyte wasn't of much help, but did manage to remember Thorkild Caltrap, a noble from faraway land whom settled in Antil some 12 years ago. His sons are respected fighters.
No stranger to courtly manners, Gabriel sent a peasant boy to announce his arrival at Caltrap manor. Further, he made sure to bring appropriate gift with himself—a move that surely helped him get much desired audience.
One of the guard took Gabriel's gifts and disappeared in the manor. He returned some ten minutes later, joined by a finely dressed older man with a noticeably different complexion.
“It's an honour to have an envoy from such distant land.” his soft voice did not match his firm stance. “I'm Fellow, and I'm Head of the Manor in Lord's absence. Please, join me to the courtyard.”
He took Gabriel to a small, rectangular courtyard, with a square table for six, covered with shade of two apple trees. Wine and fruits are already served.
“Ser Gabriel Faria, please pardon my ignorance, but I know very little of your family and land. Would you care to tell me more?”
The elf spoke in great detail about his noble family, omitting minor details like himself stealing his father's sword and running away in anger. “I am hoping to take a courtly squire who will assist me and that I might train in the Arte, and in return I will pledge allegiance to this great house as a knight and do my lords bidding.” Gabriel explained.
Fellow carefully listens to his request. “I'm afraid I can make no such arrangements, but I will convey all you've said to me to Lord once he arrives. In the meantime, allow me to introduce you to Young Lords Bowie and Krom Molder, whom are currently in the manor. Both yearn to test their mettle in the world.”
Bowie joins them first. A young, healthy and eloquent fellow of some 20 years. Krom, two heads taller and three shoulders wider than his brother, joined with a significant delay. He threw himself in the chair, almost breaking it. “Who is this Arte you've been speaking of?”
“Why ,the Arte of the blade of course. Have your servants fetch wasters, it will be an honour to spar with you. We must sharpen our skills, for there is a beast in need of slaying. In a fortnight you will return here with beasts blood dried on your blades, and sacks full of coin.”
And so the deal had been made.
Flowerbloom 10th, Spiritday
With first ray of newborn day, our group of adventurers met at the agreed upon location. A respectable party of eight: Gabriel with his two new squires—Bowie and Krom Molder Caltrap—and two new adventurers—Sashundo, a dwarf in black-and-yellow plate mail, and Amanda, a mousy girl with a soft spot for cute guys like Bowie—as well as Sister Silente's crew of Brother Theo and Brother Kallahan. The latter being a rather sinister looking fellow. And let us not forget Delphine, a mule hired solely for the purpose of brining back all that wealth Gabriel had seen. They marched out with purpose and vigor.
The last Taaaz had felt was a giant beetle, weighing what seemed like a metric ton, taking him down to the ground, its mandibles crushing through his neck guard and ripping out his throat. The warmth of gushing blood was soon replaced by the coldness of limestone beneath him.
Violent jerks brought Taaaz out of his slumber. No, jerking is too subtle of a word. It felt as if someone was swinging him through the air. But what he could see made no sense whatsoever. There was no discernible ground—or any land for that matter.
The air was filled with a thunderous roaring of such volume that he felt his whole body vibrate in pain. There were moments when he could've sworn that his eyeballs and eardrums burst; and yet he could still see and hear.
Titanic visages filled the air; their features indescribable by human words; were they real or imagined?
After an eternity of flying and swirling through the air, one of the colossal horrors pierced Taaaz with a thousand spears and pinned him to an ice cold surface. Taaaz could feel his helmet ripped off, as well as every last piece of hair on his head. That was followed by an intense pain; as if his skin and face melted off; followed by sharp pain as if hundreds of needles were stuck all over his head.
Despite all the noise and hurt, he could clearly hear
P U U L K R E A K I V Z I again and again in his head. Taaaz's ordeal lasted for a century.
He woke up in a dimly lit cave with a splitting headache; his armour covered in dried blood. He could feel no helmet on his head. His face hurt horribly whenever he even attempted to touch it. The room smelt of body odour. Taaaz recognised two artefacts on the far side of the room—wooden figurine and a cowbell.
Unwilling to go around helmet-less, he made an improvised cowl out of hides he had been resting on. After initial exploration, which had been at a snails pace due to all the hurt and pain, he decided to go through the moss drape on the south-west side. Struggling to speak, he only managed to make a few grunts before “Pullkreakivzi!” slipped from him mouth.
Another cave, albeit larger then the one he came out from, housed two broad-shouldered, squat humanoids by the fire. Some pantomime and broken common later helped Taaaz piece out that they dragged his body here and tended his wounds. He bid them goodbye, and went looking for an exit... But not before attempting to collect all the treasure he left behind!
Following the sounds of rushing water, he managed to find the waterfall his party descended. He soon found out that underestimating his own wounds nearly proved to be a fatal mistake. Few steps after he begun to descend down the rope, a sharp pain in the spine took away all his bodily strength, sending him down in a freefall manner. It was by sheer luck he faceplanted the underground pond instead of limestone.
Since dying once wasn't traumatic enough, Taaaz was once again fighting for his own life. Unable to walk normally, he crawled the same path as last time, ultimately reaching his place of demise. Nutriel and Pusgic were still rotting away, but he cared little for them—only for his backpack full of treasure. Alas, he was to weak to carry anything of weight! A man of culture he is, he pried out “The Complete History of Botany,” and crawled back to the cave with two hairy humanoids.
Flowerbloom 11th, Airday
Gabriel led the party to the caves he fled from days ago. “Lead the way” Silente commanded. In they went, retracing his steps. By the time they descended into second chamber, something most curious had happened—the circle of rocks with cowbell in the center was restored.
Further, there was a thick gray fog with cinnamony smell in the connecting chamber, something that hadn't been here before. Sashundo used his (lack of) height to enter it first. He couldn't see further than his own outstretched arm. “GO BAK... GO BAK... GO BAK...” a monotonous voice boomed. But only the dwarf could hear it. Since nothing else seemed to be happening—Sashundo was still alive—rest of the party entered as well.
It didn't take them long to step into the stream they'd be looking for, and find their way to the waterfall chamber. Gabriel and Amanda took to inspect the overhanging rope, dwarf inspected the south walls, and the rest formed a protective perimeter. The rope was frayed, as if from heavy use, but unsuspect otherwise. Sashundo hearing cowbells from the mist was enough to send the party down the rope.
Half an hour later Gabriel had led them to the secret tunnel where he found the holy totem and piles of coin. The crawlspace was so tight that only two could go at once, and even then, they wouldn't be able to turn if they had to.
The treasure was where they left it—a pile so wide six men could easily roll in it. Everybody but Amanda, Silente, and Theo dove straight into the pile, stuffing their sacks with as much coin as they can. A pile of mangled deer corpses next to it were no concern of theirs.
“This can't be...” Sister Silente went pale. “What is it?” Brother Theo inquired “This... This is the High Priest's totem... This... This can't be here...”
“Ahem—Boys!” Amanda coughed loudly, pointing down the dark corridor they haven't ventured through yet.
A massive human-like head, adorned by long, greasy, lanky hair—imagine armpit hair half-a-meter long—with horse-like jaw hovered high in the air. Its diabolical cackle revealed a sickening array of ghastly, yellow, rotting teeth. True horror was revealed only after it'd made few more steps forward.
Lantern light now fully illuminating the figure, revealing its elephant-like body covered in warts and blisters. To further the nightmare, ten more heads like the first one—with varying degrees of balding—were connected with thick worm-like veiny tubes to the body.
It rushed the party with child-like glee.
There was a silver lining in all of this chaos. Four of eleven heads seemed to be dead or dysfunctional, as attested by them simply being dragged on the floor.
That was all silver lining though.
Silente and Krom Molder counter-charged, each meeting a grisly fate. The priest was drawn and quartered by four heads, while the warrior screamed his guts out as the creature shattered limb after limb with its blunt teeth. One of the heads stood up high and unleashed a deafening high-pitched scream that made it impossible for adventurers to hear each other.
Gabriel managed to set the beast on fire, although doing minimal damage. Amanda sneaked in for a backstab. Sashundo and Brother Kallahan failed to have any impact at all, while Brother Theo hugged the cave, paralysed with fear.
The creature roared as it burned, unleashing its full rage on young Bowie whom charged in to avenge his brother. Brave but foolish. His battle-axe hadn't even made a chip on the creature's hardened skin. The monster battered him mercilessly, turning him into nothing but a messy pulp. Amanda stabbed the creatures behind, dealing so little damage it hadn't even turned around one of its heads to check on her.
Brother Kallahan the Wise, and Gabriel the Swift, were first to reach the tunnel, crawling for their life. Before fleeing with two sacks of coin, Amanda slapped enough sense in Theo for him to get eaten alive by the demon. Sashundo made a run for it, but dumbly decided to jump over the corpses, landing into the maw of two heads.
The surviving trio returned the same way they came in. The creature's shriek was echoing through the cave. Alas, there was one more surprise awaiting them—a barely visible figure stood in the fog, blocking their exit.
“Who goes there?” Gabriel yelled. “Identify yourself!”
“Taaaz... My squire, is that you?!”
“Speak so if you are!”
And indeed it was, leaving Gabriel without words, an amazing feat achieved by few. He quickly explained that some cavemen tended his wounds, and helped him recover. Gabriel's hug was prevented by Taaaz's outstretched arm. “What are you doing my boy? Get over here and pick up our stuff! Without any further delay!” and so was the dynamic duo reunited.
“Real gentlemen carry coin—they don't make petite girls carry it for them!” Amanda protest's fell on deaf ears until the party reached their donkey.
Stopping to sleep for only one watch, Gabriel, Taaaz, Brother Kallahan, and Amanda reached Antil On Flowerbloom 14th, Fireday, with their biggest treasure haul to date—1060 gold pieces and 340 electrum pieces.
How long will it last?
Player Session Reports
- Sashundo's diary entry
Discuss at Dragonsfoot forum.