House of the Beast: LoF Session XXIII
Now where was I, yes, we had just defeated the foul sperm of Rovagug and that traitorous Zayifed fled before Sarenae’s blade could cleanse the world of his taint …cough… Tired from the battle I took a moments respite and surveyed the four who had come to Gahsim and my aid. Although I had suspected at the time it was more for themselves than any feeling of heroism toward Gahsim and I. Eventually I would prove to be correct, but that is not important.
Gahsim on the other hand was none the wiser and content enough with just being free. You will remember he was one of the slaves who had fought with me and rebelled against our Gnoll captures. Yes the big one with falchion and the only one that had survived Zayifed’s trap. Either way I was relieved to be free as well; however, I had learned by then that freedom can have its own chains if one is not careful …cough…cough… So I was wary of our rescuers. This does not mean I was going to be rude and we made introductions. Khatovar, Glarth, Ce-tan, and Zahkmed a misbegotten priest of our lady Sarenrae, but who was I to judge. A man of my past, as you know …cough… was not one start fires as the saying goes. I will not say more on the four of them as you already have doubtless heard them described on many occasions.
Zahkmed did have the Lady’s touch of course and he quickly went about the task of cleansing us of our wounds. He did it in such an ill-tempered manor that I had the feeling we were going to get along just fine. Once done he handed me one of his spare weapons and I cast away the tainted filth I had been forced to wield until then. It was truly a beautiful blade and I could feel the warmth of The Dawnflower emanating from it. Somehow it made me believe there was a path forward and I turned to the others and explained we were not alone. There were other slaves stuck down within the bowels of this fortress and they would need help. Sarenrae be praised they listened and we started to make our way back the way Gahsim and I had come.
The large room we encountered first I remembered all too well. The feast hall of the Carrion King was nothing more than a mass grave filled with gnawed bodies in various states of decay and rot. It took much of my effort not to lose what little food I had in my stomach. It was not so much the flesh, as I have seen my fair share, as it was the senseless gore that was well everywhere …cough…cough…cough… No it was not just that there was somewhat more, a presence of death, an unceasing hunger, but I suppose that was true of the house of the beast altogether. It is not something I am like to forget. Morbid as the scene was it did not seem to affect Glarth in the same way. We took but a few steps through the hall before the gnome spoke in that hurried way they all seem to, “Keep going, I will be right back.” Glarth you see was the one pushing to move forward and now he was running back to the throne room. I looked back at Zahkmed, but he only shrugged and the others turned to follow. Thoroughly confused, as I would come accustomed to when dealing with Glarth, but not wanting to split our strength Gahsim and I followed as well.
As it turned out Glarth had a nose for discovery and it was for this reason his comrades chose to follow. Within a small side door off the throne room we found the Carrion King’s harem. I do not have much to say on this place other than the thought of a live Gnoll strokes the fires of my anger, but the thought of a mating one just makes me sick. I would have let Sarenrae’s fires scour the place if it were not made from stone …cough… But I was speaking of the gnome and his nose for discovery, yes. Well within this unlikely of places he found a stash of weapons and such, but more importantly he found a travel bag filled with an erotic manuscript. It was not the manuscript that was important, mind, but the bag which could carry a hundred times what it should be able to. I am not one for looting and dungeon delving as many young men seem to be; however, I will admit it was a very useful find as it allowed Khatovar to pack much of the gear he was carrying on his back.
Useful though the find may have been I was growing impatient so I nudged them back on the path and tried to impress the need for haste …cough…cough… There were likely more of the Carrion King’s ilk about and the slaves, no men below were not much of a fighting lot. I suppose if they were they would have been dead like the rest. That did not detour me though and we moved on through the feast hall and out a set of doors into an intersecting hall way. To our right was a room filled with a mass of discarded bones, the only evidence remaining of men who had long since become food for the gnolls. Straight ahead lay the path to the other trapped men and the corridor to the left was one Gahsim and I had never been down before. We informed them of this so of course they wished to explore it. It was then that Khatovar claimed he had heard something to the left and not wanting to be attacked from behind we went in search of the noise.
Showing a fair bit of wisdom Glarth sent his pet down the path to investigate and we followed several passes behind. The passage itself was very strange and every inch was covered with the scribbling’s of a foul mind. Many of us took a moment to attempt and decipher the script but it was clearly nothing more than the ramblings of a mad man as we soon learned. Traveling further down the hall we arrived at another fork and Glarth instructed Suerbahn to search down the right while Khatovar made his way to the left. Then there was a twang of a bow and Khatovar hand shot up. For a second there I tell you almost thought he caught it, but he was a fraction to slow and the arrow slammed into his shoulder biting deep.
We had discovered the noise, but they too had discovered us and we came to a room filled with large contraption and three gnolls …cough… Or at least two of them were gnolls while the other looked like some experimental rape of a human and gnoll. Fur, skin, stiches, and scars covered every inch of this bastard of Rovagug. When we came into the room he or she appeared to be working on dismantling the large contraption, which looked like a large cage suspended inches from the ground. It was not a very big cage and would probably have forced its occupant to stand strait, which was most likely the intent. Once the abomination noticed us it stood from the ground and pointed a scared hand to yell “Kill them!” It was no surprise that it then fled out a side door as I am sure it knew its foul existence would soon be at an end. Khatovar gave chase while the rest of us set to dispatching the gnolls.
I entered the grace of the Raqs Nar and charged the closest beast aiming to sever his head with one perfect stroke. However, I was many years out practice and my strike had been aimed too low. Instead of headless corpse I was greeted with by an angry maw. You see the edge of my blade had caught on his vertebrae and missed the major vessel in his neck. Not to be discouraged I continued my steps and spun to my right reversing my cut, which completed the job. Thinking to finish the other I turned to watch Suerbahn finishing the other gnoll as its meal. I believe that was when I realized old geezer of gnome could be quite deadly. Some have argued it was Seurbahn that was his strength …cough…cough…cough…cough… but they are fools for Suerbahn was nothing more than an extension of him. That is how I have always seen it. Perhaps he is a separate creature, but the will to control such a thing must be at least equal to that of the thing itself. Either way a gnome of many surprised that one.
Thinking ourselves finished I had turned to chase after the creature and Khatovar when two large slams came from the far wall. Oddly the wall had been bathed in an a dense impenetrable darkness during our quick exchange. With the noise the darkness vanished to reveal two raised gates and on the other side four of the large mindless gnolls who seemed to feel nothing but rage. Two jumped out to attack and then yet another load noise sounded as the gates came crashing back down. Later we would learn that Khatovar had reset the switch that opened the gates. At that moment two were on us, one was stuck behind the gate and the other was stuck under the a gate. It was not perfect, no, but it bought us some time. Glarth, Zahkmed, and I fought like mad eventually bringing the first two down. Sarenrae be praised they had already been bruised and battered or the outcome may have been different …cough…cough… Either way the final two fell soon after and we went to find Khatovar.
Zahkmed was already there patching up Khatovar’s wounds and he was trying to explain to Khatovar why he could not heal a dead man. I did not see the fighting I tell you now, but I have seen Khatovar fight, the Widowmaker as some have called him, and the creature was thoroughly dead. The grotesque man-beast had transformed into something feral with thick hide and a vicious looking muzzle. It was a terrifying form, but I remember the way its head lay hanging as if all the bones in its neck had been shattered. Its chest had been up in towards it neck and I remember looking around for the Elephant that had caused so much damage. Later after truly seeing the Widowmaker in action I understood. To him they would have been two quick jabs to the creature’s stomach so fast at times I had trouble keeping my eye on them …cough… So fast the air cracked with the power. To the creature the force of the blows would have been enough to lift him clean of the ground, blowing the air from its lungs and crushing its ribs in the process. From there you know the stories …cough… The man was like a cat and I have seen him do it. With an open opponent he could leap and bring his leg around so fast it would shatter everything in its path to dust. Anyway I do not really know as Khatovar was never much of talker, but the beast was dead and we were alive so we searched …cough… his things …cough… and …cough… moved on …cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough… cough……
Sarenrae’s blessing upon you for the water. I must rest a bit, we will pick up the story another time …cough… but I pray you understand the lesson …cough… There is power in corruption and destruction, even within ones own body, but that which is harder to attain is always greater. Ask yourself which is harder the destruction of a thing or its creation…?