A Wretched Existence

A Wretched Existence
House of the Beast Net Supplement

Faharid, you were brought to the place the Gnolls referred to as the House of the Beast two days ago. It was a large complex, shaped in the manner of a Keleshite Palace from ages past, a palace of once white marble and gleaming brass, ravaged by time and neglect.

It is cold in the mountains, and as your slave convoy climbed the heights, altitude sickness and fatigue wore you low. But the gnolls were relentless, and no concern was spared the ill. Many did not survive to reach your destination.

You’ve come to understand, they were the lucky ones.

It is a dark dreadful place, nestled between a false peak deep within Pale Mountain’s treacherous slopes. The sun does not shine their, but for a few minutes every day. It is cold and inhospitable. No plants grow here. And you have seen no sign of the granite quarries that could have supplied this immense structure.

Why go through so much effort, whoever built this place. But looking back down, a view overlooking all of the Brazen Peaks, and Katapesh beyond, you realize that there is perhaps no place on Golarion closer to the Gods.

You have been taught your whole life, that the Cult of Rovagug does not create, they only destroy. But you see signs of the Beast everywhere, delicate and intricate mosaics and brass sculptures show that this beautiful if dilapidated palace is indeed dedicate to the Destroyer of Worlds. Seeing the architecture of the Dawnflower’s faithful so twisted…it is a mockery of everything you’ve ever believed in and loved.

As you descend, in chains, into the depths, the horror only builds. Carnage and excrement lies everywhere. The heavy stench of rotting flesh sickens you, and many collapse in throws of nausea.

The first level below houses some sort of kennel for many massive hyenadons. Creature you’ve come to be familiar with in your time as a slave amongst the gnolls. Canine’s larger than a lion, stupid, powerful, and always hungry. They are favored as mounts among the Carrion King’s faithful.

You see other slaves working stone, mining or tunneling perhaps to the north. They are scrawny, and broken the lot of them. More corpses than men, is this to be your fate?

You are led lower, down another sweeping marble staircase, into a seen fit for the Abyss. In a large chamber, you’ve now come to understand is some sort of mess hall, dozens of bodies, both man and animal are thrown about the floor, half devoured in various states of rot. It is an orgy of blood. Other gnolls taunt and jeer as you pass. Some reach out and grab your arm or your buttocks as if sizing up a horse, or a meal.

As you’ve watched them you’ve come to understand some sort of hierarchy among them. A hierarchy determined not just by obvious strength but the level of advancement of some sort of rotting disease, an affliction of the mouth.

Further into the structure you are lead, your guides small torch giving just enough light to walk without stumbling over the dead. Into another chamber, a massive pit lies before you, a mass grave filled with hundred of corpses. Crawling with vermin and larvae of unknown parasites. In the center a stone walkway crosses the pit to a central column rising from the center. Atop this pillar sits a tremendous and gory throne made of shattered bodies, stitched together with rope and bent metal. Seating in this throne is the most massive gnoll you have ever seen, 12 feet tall and close to 1,000 lbs of bulk and muscle.

You struggle for breath, the stench of the dead lends a palpable solid weight to the air. You are sick.

As you regain control of your body, you see that this “Carrion King” is addressing the new arrivals, he taunts you all for your weakness, that most of you aren’t even fit for food. As he stands and hollers for you all to honor him, you feel your heart beat building in intensity, until all you can feel and comprehend is pounding of your own heart and the rush of heat and blood. Rage fills, anger and wrath more intense than any you have ever felt in your life.

When you regain your senses, you see that many of the slaves have been struck down, ripped apart by the hands and teeth of their compatriots. Some continue to feast, lost in the orgasmic gluttony. There is blood on your hands.

As the horror of the situation begins to move past shock and into despair, you and the other survivors are dragged away and thrown into a cell. It is cramped and filthy. Several dead lie rotting on the floor, and waste and vomit covers everything. The situation is heightened when a short time later two dozen are so other slaves are forced into the as well. You can barely breath.

The other slaves, those willing to communicate are few, most are broken barely human. Others have fully given into the animal inside…the beast. You learn that they have been forced to excavate ancient tunnels. Those who don’t work are food for the weak. And the strongest become food for the strong. There is no winning, no survival, in time all will die. You find an old man who can no longer stand. His face is rotting, some sort of leprosy perhaps. He recognize his accent as being from the city. He claims he was a wealthy merchant once. He came here on a fools errand and the pursuit of riches unrealized. He has been here for 5 days, the longest of those you talk to.

In the morning the back breaking labor of breaking and carting stone and earth begins. You are instructed to present any artifacts of objects you may find to your overseer, so they can be perused by some sort of gnoll wise-man the others fear. He is named Rokova.

And on the day following, as fatigue and malnourishment take their toll. You nearly collapse while working the tunnels. The gnoll Rokova approaches you out of sight of the other gnolls. The creature grins at you, like this is all some sick joke, and turns away in a flourish. But as he departs you hear the clatter of metal on stone, a key, dropped. It is the key for your shackles, for the shackles of all. Freed from your bonds, you turn to your compatriots in bondage, and free them in turn.

Together you rush the overseer. A slave named Lazrul, some sort of half-ogre by your mark, makes short bloody work of the gnoll wretch. His scimitar is well made, considering its owner. The feel of a weapon in your hands restores clarity to your purpose. You are Faharid, a slave to gnolls and drugs no longer, once you were the Dawnflower’s Blade, and now, by the edge of this scimitar, you shall be once again.

You may die down here, in this most foul of places on Golarion, but you will do so with a blade in your hand bringing the Dawn’s Mercy to all who shun the light.

As you fight, chaos breaks out throughout the gnolls ranks, and for a moment it seems that freedom may be won. But the gnolls are many, and although your cause of justice lends you strength, your fellow slaves are few and weak. Worse some, many of them have, in the horror of their present situation, joined with the Beast in communion. Lazrul and many other engages in blatant cannibalism. He claims he is the new master of the House, and now you serve him.

Taking his life will be a mercy, but first, worry about the gnolls. Your early gains are soon broken, and you find your company forced back into the tunnels you started in. To see the sun one last time before giving into death. You polish your reclaimed blade, and pray for salvation. And in that moment a cry emerges from the gnoll’s forces. The king has been slain! Many of the gnoll’s captains, priests, or whatever they are begin to fight for leadership of those who remain. In a few short minutes, you and your charges are forgotten, the gnolls withdrawing into areas unseen.

You could escape. Now, for certain. But you remember that old man, and others down below. Those who lacked the strength to continue their work today. If they are left, they will be eaten, food for the enemy, a terrible fate.

You descend, in the chaos of the kings death, you and your men will free the others. But as you reach the kings throne room, it has changed.

Gone is the pit of death and gluttony. Gone is the massive spider altar to Rovagug. As you enter the chamber, it appears to be some sort of posh bath chamber, from some Sultan’s harem, perhaps. The pit filled with lavender scented water. The marble, clean, glistening, and adorned with silk rugs and plush pillows.

As you enter, a seven foot tall man, turns to you. He has a youthful, if serious, appearance, and his skin tone is far too even to be human. No hair, freckles, or blemishes of any sort adorn him. His garish orange hair and slightly pointed ears make him out to be something else all together, not an elf, but you are unsure.

He spreads his hands in welcome, and begins to speak, as he does, your mind becomes clouded, and its hard to focus on anything but the meter of his tongue. “You have served your purpose wonderfully. But I’m afraid I have a new use for you, a less mutual agreement I’m afraid, seize them!” You snap back into awareness in time to recognize the pummel of a Gnoll’s sword striking you in the face. You collapse back into darkness.

A Wretched Existence

The Legacy of Fire Bondoid Bondoid