House of the Beast: LoF Session XIX
The battle for survival continues in the depths of ancient temple whose unhallowed walls depict the Worldeater and Destroyer. Khatovar’s attacks against the proclaimed Carrion King, Ghartouk, were furious and swift. The hit, heavy and hard with the ferocity of mythed dragons and their intimidating presence, was but a mewling cry and paltry slap in the face amid the bloodstained skin and carnage inflamed eyes of the crowned avatar of corruption. In return, his Favor darkened with black gravity, brought down his jagged and carnivorous axe to bear against the unarmored warrior with supernatural power and malevolence. The vile ichor, enveloped the heart, pierced through succinctly displaying fault with the majority of the humanoid condition; Khatovar eyes widened, overwhelmed of black terror – fled from battle.
The party consternated and in disbelief; the import of one of their own fleeing, realize the grave situation. Fighting desperately onward as one of their own flee with such velocity, the Carrion King laughs murderously giving short chase and rends their companion again with a vicious cut across the back only to turn back and reengage the rest of his intruders. Accelerating to his utmost away, frightened by his malefactor, Khatovar speeds toward the other end of the semi-domed room only to watch as his companions being battered with the searing call of calamity by Ghartouk.
The stories of the unbreakable fortitude and sanguine tenacity are proven in the depths below the sands. Keen swords and fangs bent on the dispatch of the avatar, find their mark and leave their contortive piercings through the hideously wounded and unrelenting body of the Carrion King. However, the jauggernaut’s response is critical as the great axe lacerates Zhakmed and Seurbhan with deep wounds, finding its way deeper and deeper into their flesh with every attack. The serpentine outworlder brought to ground by merciless barrage recovers quickly but at sacrificial cost. Glarthoblavott, with desperate alacrity pours the life blood that was entwined so deeply between he and his, grows gaunt – opening wounds he had incurred previously and suffering more from his soul exchange keeping Seurbhan alive just long enough to have the gifts of Sarenrae bestowed upon him by the hardened ecclesiastic.
Weary by the extreme circumstance of diminished power created from his open volley, Ce-tan brings forth simple spells of pure unerring force for wave after wave against the hale foe. The blood browned and eyes wild with ferocity, the Gnoll of Legend stalks forward and finds himself pinned between the thick coil of snake and a conjured pit. The Gnome had bred forth a point of no return; either the Carrion King would fight through the mass of bodies accumulated to stop him or plummet to the earthen cage.
The terror dimmed and the clarity of severity once again flooded forward to Khatovar’s mind. He pivoted from his terrible flight 12 endless breaths away with inhuman celerity and fluidity. Vaulting forward from the edged walkway of the outer ring of the room, Khatovar flew over the mass grave to the center of the spit where the massive throne of skin and hide sat upon; pushed off between the stout base of the throne and catapulted himself across the continued mass grave below to the opposite side of the wide pit the Carrion King had to his rear. The rapid response was unnecessary as the vomit curdled howl of the mythic half-beast was muffled by a sudden finality.
The thickened bones cracked, the vigorous heart bleated mutingly. The remaining spell of Ce-tan sent forward like a golden streak across the condensed battlefield, blunt and unyielding, struck the chest of the thing once known as Ghartouk. The last of the fearsome vitality escaped in a manner unbefitting that of the Destroyer of Worlds; sudden and peaceably.
The the aura of fallen corruption dissipated and a lone sinister centipate undulated outward from a wound bore on its host’s forehead. Immediately, the vile insect was destroyed under boot of wrathful certainty. Glarthoblavott, Ce-tan, Khatovar, and Zhakmed catching their breath, removed the articles of value from the once murderous king. The wall Rokova had supposedly created, that had separated any reinforcements stood resolute still. Glarthoblavott, moving closer discovered the illusion and his inquisitive nature brought him closer to another door which was once beside the wall. The door unlocked, bore smells of familiarity and once opened, the lofty and thick smokes of pesh and emboldened drugs filed their wispy tendrils into the olfactories of the small psychonaut. Splayed out among pillows and sheets were the female denizens, the hideous offerings of which only the hardest of hearts would dare desire salacious deeds done to them. The most potent of pesh continuing their effect maintained the lethargic retinue in a state of uncaring coma. Even the mettled death cries of their master seemed far away and in another world. The gnomes desire burned as he picked a pipe of hookahed pesh but his triumphant spoils were to wait.
The ground shook with a low rumble. Thunderous and guttural, the growl resounded through the stoned pyrrhic chamber. Something stirred within the depths of slaughter; something large had awoken. Rokova the traitorous Gnoll and his unexpected influence for the demise of the Carrion King, stepped forward through the wall. The visage of the Gnoll that had once stood at the right hand of the Carrion King deteriorated and a new body took its place. The slink Janni stood empowered with circumstance relaying he in fact is Zayifid. Remembering the name as the Templar of the West Wind and Vardishal’s companion, the “hero” immediately explains he has spent many lifetimes in the service of humanity and warns the fatigued and battered fighters of the little god that stirred and clawed and awoke in the depths; it’s name, Thkot’Tal, its wrath – immeasurable. Hearing the strentorian talons clangoring and scraping death against the raw stone in a tunnel covered by rotting bodies within the mass grave, Zayifid starts and opens the entrance below the defunct throne to a stairway to lead further into blackness.
Warning the combatants of the lesser of two evils they are faced with, Zayifid urgently conveys that our answers are further ahead. To stop the madness, the tomb of the Gnoll sorcerer Shirak must be sought out amid the Pit of Screaming Ghosts. Wary of this self-proclaimed Templar’s wishes, the group is left with the path of potential respite down into the subterrean levels, narrowly dodging the advent of Thkot’Tal.
The stairwell continued on as worked stone melted into something rawly stylized. Fathoms below the sea of sands, the stairs descended into a hallway and room of wonder. A brook cut the long cavernous room in twain, the verdant splendor and four large stone heads sitting atop the lush green invited the party to rest. Next to the entrance to this marvel of sorcererous ingenuity, the Tree of 40 Fruits grew tall, untainted. Ripe with almonds, apricots, peaches, pears, and dates; each bestowing a restorative blessing upon those that ingest them. After a few bites from the flowering tree, the travelers were alleviated of some slight injuries, but could not rest for long.
Khatovar, scouting between the stone heads, was set upon by cursed fire as the group was set upon by the menace of the plane of fire whose gaze enfeebled those who lost themselves within it; Rasts. The ash of their home plane filled the air and their thinly hooked and barbed chitinous appendages lashed forth and wrought havoc among skin and vitality. Catching a glimpse of its beady flamelit eyes, Khatovar was caught unready to face a creature with such a maleficent gaze and instantly his joints locked and was paralyzed. With quick thought, Ce-tan drew a dense fog around him. It burst forth and obscured the fiery beings from using their insidious gaze. Taking a brunt of damage while unable to move, Khatovar regained his muscles and worked his way back to Zhakmed who called forth Sarenrae’s blessings for healing. Arcane spells and grand melee fell into suit within the greyscaled mists. And as it dispersed, the incredulous victors stood again, breath heavy and bodies slick with bloody scars, huddling to the tree and anxiously awaiting the next wave of malady to befall them as they recover to continue onward.