House of the Beast: LoF Session XXIV
The dust calmed and the fright of the enraged mindless creations slipped away as the last is dispatched behind its cage. The last shred of humanity that he once had held fled with his remaining moments in life. The once obsessed half human, mentally monstrous, Madfang lay sprawled, neck partially crumpled atop the cool and gritty stones. His chambers raided, belongings relinquished, and plans procured from their old master, the dusted and wounded group inspected the holding pens and mechanical terrors that were laid out by the mad alchemist.
The inspection complete, the hallway continued onward into darkness. The walls covered with the archaic scribbling of the dead half-man; a language unable to be put to paper. Slowly the newest compatriot, Faharid, gathered his breath and marched forward leading the way to the holding cells of the those who were to be meant for the delightful slaughter of the Carrion King. The pungent smell of rot and infection growing from the doors ahead, the first room was repurposed and haphazardly barred. A holding cell for all the combatants and food for the Gnolls, a lone man sat in the darkened room, eyes bewildered and glazed. His sanity seemingly still within reason, an old man with degenerating tissues, patches of fine sunless hair, and rotting teeth; Amwyr Yusseifa cries singular tears of joy at seeing his cellmate Faharid again. With assistance from Zhakmed who looked over him and knew immediately of his plaguing affliction, leprosy, the now smiling man smoothed his robes and his sitting linens with the unsteady trembling hands of the ill. Amwyr began recounting his tragedy of the dead in the corner, the child who was taken by the gnolls, and those who he thought lost to the chaos and shadows of the demented and cruel, including the man who stood before him.
The intonation, minute. The guile near-perfect. Khatovar locked his eyes upon Amwyer’s; fixed with a hard stare. The old man’s mouth did not tell his story correctly and his voice had a near undetectable faint quaver that could be mistaken for his age. Unseen by his companions, as the old man was helped to his feet by Zhakmed, Amwyr had slipped something without their notice under his linens. But as honed in skill as any that followed the Master of Masters, Khatovar burdened the old man eyeing the linens and with small pause uncovered his lie. Removing the linens, the scent of death and bleak history permeated the onlookers; including Amwyr. The arms and legs gnawed to bone, the avulsed flesh exposing darkened organs, the body blue and black with lividity; a half-eaten remnant of a tiny child lay with a broken jaw agape – the single lifeless eye, sunken and chilling, affixed to some terrible space amid the floor.
Spontaneously, a flash – a gleam of fire emanated in its destructive entirety. A prayer uttered into the room as if there were wind to carry it, as practiced as it may have been cast one thousand times before it. A fire, a fury, as bright as the Sun herself swirled not outward, but inward, and was released just the same. A glint of blood lay trickling downward, corrupted by gravity, following the path of the masterly crafted curve of keen metal, poised to the side of the standing man. The course of air collapsed back upon itself as if it had parted, but Amwyr’s body did not. The only sound within the split seconds were that of a strangled thud of a head to stone and the audible though controlled wheezes of Faharid. His words returning through the echo of the wind created, “Seranrae’s blessing be upon you – may you find her judgement fair upon another side.”
The sword had been unsheathed and used with such speed and exactitude, Amwyr’s mouth lay thin – partially opened like he was to speak. But so swift was the excommunication of sinewous tissue, it would have been envied by the finest chiurgeons within Katepesh. Few of legend have been known to wield a blade as ably, and fewer still were still alive as they always have challengers testing their strength.
The body starting to sloop downward was kicked by a disgusted Khatovar, displacing the tainted body from the infantile purity that was its nourishment. Zhakmed with a sense of sorrow, covered the body next to that of the other dead within and offered his own prayer to the Dawnflower to take them with open arms. The sudden and fierce swordsman wiped his blade and returned to his poor state of health; a fit of coughing and rales signaling to leave the room.
The next room; adorned with painted bloodstained maws of layering teeth, the rancid candles and bones poured out despair as bloodied scripture of the profane intermixed upon the walls. 8 areas strewn with linens and grime covered grass and shallow pillows for beds. An alter, degenerated with cracks and foul fluids was placed at its center and stood with its seenless miasma. Not unnerved, Glarthoblavott, curiously inspects the room and alter casually, suggesting this would be the dwelling of those most faithful to the Rough Beast – those who were a tainted upper-class which feasted with the Carrion King. Leaving with nothing but lingering satisfaction of ridding the temple of its most faithful, the weary entered the next room.
Tattered tapestries, blankets, and tables with half emptied bottles in disarray laid around the room; the Rough Beast’s followers, 5 Gnolls, brutally carved open with thick gashes. Their lifeless bodies hung with the stench of decay and misery. Nothing else of use in sight, the party headed toward the surface up a center stairwell.
More beds of fur and linen littered the grounds with rotten fleshy meats and old urine that mixed with the small bits of dust and sand. The large hall ahead, open with silence, displayed carvings of elaborate vermin climbing over each other growing larger and higher. A ventilation hole is found bizarrely near a far wall and with an afterthought is felt to be out of place from its building design and its craftsmen’s art.
Ce-tan sauntered forward peering into a large archway and a square room filled with iron braziers and obese statues. The statues stood resolute and forward, their heads broken and in their stead rubble and uncleaned humanoid skulls. Beyond the visage, Ce-tan pressed forward discovering a long passageway lined with columns and filled with rubble and sand from a cave-in. Determined to find something interesting, Ce-tan and Glarthoblavot began the supervision of excavation – finding a door behind some of the debris. With excitement and alarm the Gnome raised with fist toward the door. Undeterred and frustrated by its mere presence, the Gnome once again calls forth the powers of his ring – conjuring horns of a force-like being and burst apart the desiccated wood without a moments hesitation. His excitement soon rose to heights of disappointment as he discerned the doorway simply led through the minaret that he and his companions had chosen not enter too deeply.
Ignoring an escape to the temple courtyards through the minaret, Glarthoblavot plans his next moves but loses thought as the grated voice of Faharid is heard through the vast echoing hall. A confident call, and bluff, pours into the chamber – Faharid’s anger meeting anyone who will hear he is the lone survivor and will challenge those who dare to deal in death. With strained certitude, a voice is heard in reply putting Faharid to the question to join the ranks of the new Carrion King, Lazrul. Baffled, the warriors took in the revelation of a potentially new King. Faharid relays Lazrul, the ogre-kin that was captive of the deceased King, was dumb but just as destructive. Unsure of the feasibility of the new King, Glarth off-handedly asks if the new King and his subordinates are sane. The voice quavering with sounds of fear and uncertainty, gazed from an unseen vantage down toward the voice of Faharid, letting him come closer.
The man hunched impaired, his shoulder crushed with a limp cyanotic tinge, his eyes wild with fright and paranoia. The man had been another captive cellmate with Faharid and looked as if he came out with his life, but for a price – servitude to the newly proclaimed Carrion King. Lazrul’s wrath combined with his lack of intelligence were of the same distinct and exponentially devastating magnitude. The weary captive dismissive and wanton of escape implored Faharid, Zhakmed, and the rest to run from the walking calamity. Feeling generous and ruinous of all that stood for the World-Eating Serpent and Gnolls, Faharid moved to finish the life of the man who would claim the throne.
Seurbhan and Glarth move ahead scouting rooms littered with the corpses of humans, Gnolls, and the Tainted Faithful. Stepping closer with Faharid at his heels, Ce-tan keenly hears the wet muffled splatter of a body followed by the idosyncratic deep guttural laughter of the senseless and demented growing louder and more boisterous. Simple and torn scraps of an iron door hung horizontally from the ceiling. Its fall meant to brutally compress any that had missed the large and guileless rope connecting the childishly deadly trap. Bypassing obvious death with annoyance and stepping over the rope; insidiously flagrant irritation filled lungs instead of air as a voice called forth which all could recognize as pure carnage…
“Who DARES name themselves King in my domain?!” The stones shook and echoed with the coming throes, the emulated voice of the true Carrion King roaring with resounding ferocity and aplomb. The nervous and enrage voice echoed in response behind closed double doors, unbelieving and spiteful – deluded to a personal achievement of defeating of the old King.
The doors gave way without resistance, the group entered seeing the dregs and domain of the newest to call themselves the Carrion King. The hanging censors were strewn with odd scraps of tattered burlap strips amid mismatched boxes arranged in a poorly made throne. Lazrul stood hulking, one pronounced large ear, wiry balding patched hair, and crooked unhappy face. The growths and tumors conjoined over the brutish body, elaborating his left arm and hand marking it as five times that of a normal human.
Faharid and Ce-tan stepped into the patchwork king’s lair with exasperation and fatality, the bladedancer issuing challenge to the King, “Come Lazrul… let us end this. Your time on the world… is done.” Incensed, the Ogre-kin defied with a base retort stomped and charged. Swiftly Ce-tan teaches Faharid the ways of the wish. Faharid, unsure acquiesces and wishes for a weapon to put the beast down…
“That will be good enough…” a hand rose with the iridescent pearl of fire foreboding within its center as it had been made so many times before. “Technically… I am King!” The pearl sped forward, knowingly and unerringly as it always had. Its effects still daunting and effacing. The fires engulfed some of the few subservient and beaten underlings removing their last remain breaths with the purification of willed fire.
Standing and scorched the Orgre-kin remained enraged as the heat hightened his temperament. Khatovar, Faharid, and Seurbhan dispatched the last remaining loyal to the rule of Lazrul. The ferocious and misshaped man bore down upon the whole, swinging wildly expecting the gratification of instant death. The waves of steel interspersed with arcs of heat and searing flesh sent forth by their Wishercrafting messenger.
His overpowered swinging left him too revealing. The uncontrolled mass of growth and unbalanced mass made him too vulnerable. The wild harrying swings of the giant left him open to the bladedancer’s and Outsider’s riposte. A swing and flurry of strikes tripped the giant exposing him to the grim and final blow of the granite-fisted warrior, ringing the last age of the Orge-kin’s existence.
The body of the giant still warm and slick with sweat, compulsion ruled over rationale as Glarth hurried forward to the room aside from the haplessly arranged throne to a tunnel of thick web and darkness. His feet sticking to fine threads, a massive spider rushed onward to a startled Gnome biting and tearing at him with voracious appetite. Ce-tan incredulously recited arrows of pure force, deterring the arachnid from any more havoc done unto the Gnome. Once freed, Glarth stepped back – switching from the front line of attack with the oncoming Faharid and Khatovar to launch his own barrage of alchemical fire, slowly burning the spider and its home. The killing blow laid by the Wishcrafter by smaller means of magic.
As the fires dispersed the remaining thread of spider silk, the remains of a four legged creature with melted fur and flesh is found. Toward the rear of the tunnel the creature is closely followed by the body of a fleshless man retaining a few magically enhanced adventuring items; most likely a merchant who had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
With Lazrul and his delusions of grandeur quelled, the maimed man was gathered and the air was rich with the smell of fresh air with a quick and shining beam of light breaking through the overcast haze and focused upon the temple courtyard. Finding the other two escapees from the Gnoll’s prison depths where the party had left them, the next task lay ahead to make it back to Kelmarane safely and report the findings and dealings of the days in the dark temple.