The Acts of the Lords of Rannick XLIV

Following up on idle promises...

Still below Sandpoint.

Having just seen off two demons of treachery in the temple of Lamashtu, the party quickly tried to regroup as the fog closed back in around them. By regrouping, I mean gathering around the area where unconscious Dagfinn lay and poking it with their toes. The party that kicks its Bard together, stays together.

Once Dagfinn was back up and healing spells were being passed out (or making fzzzt-ing noises from Tersplink’s wand), Halvard, Torgor, Kerplak and Albedon went to secure the rear and disappeared into the fog.

Kerplak reappeared a short while later, chatting away to no one in particular, but seemingly surprised that he’d returned to the group.

The gnome led the way into the tunnel/passageway followed by Arradin, Dagfinn and Don. The fog had now thoroughly closed in around them and Kerplak remembered his Fogcutting Glasses, which allowed him to see through the fog as though it wasn’t there. Don also found a way around the fog by using Echolocation.

The raspy, disjointed voice returned, asking its questions. “Where is the seat of Runelord Karzoug’s power?” it enquired, from out of nowhere. “Xin Shalast” replied Dagfinn. “What happened to Runelord Alaznist?”. Dagfinn racked his brains for this, but I can’t remember his actual answer. It wasn’t “I don’t know” though, which is the truthful answer. “Why is the veil of the future closed to me?” Dagfinn figured out he was probably talking about the difficulty in divination the speaker was having, compared to the good old days in Thassilon when divination was so easy, it wasn’t even considered a proper School of Magic. The last 102 years of Golarion’s history have been called the Age of Lost Omens, since prophecies have routinely failed since the death of the Man-God Aroden. Dagfinn may have said something like this, I can’t remember that either. (Edit: The voice also asked why they had come. Dagfinn’s response was “to rescue you”.)

As they progressed a low baying sounded from further down the passageway. The sound was terrible and inescapable, a hellish call that shook the adventurers, but none more so than Arradin, who took terrified flight back into the fog, trampling over Tersplink as she fled. Dagfinn leaped after her, a Countersong on his lips, calming her panic with what I assume was the exact opposite of the deep howl – something affirming but in a falsetto,.. something by James Blunt, maybe. Aaron Neville?

Anyway, Arradin was brought back, just in time as the passageway filled with a snarling pack of vicious looking Hounds of Lamashtu, an infernal breed of Shadow Mastiffs. The hounds seemed to absorb the little light around them and the close spaces between their straining bodies were as inky gulfs in reality.

Like this.

Tersplink had had the good sense to go Invisible. Not just Invisible, but Improved Invisible. As the surge of hounds made their way down the passage, Tersplink took the opportunity to zap one with his wand of vampiric touch. But when he tried another wand-jab, the spell went badly wrong and the barrier between his mind and the hounds was suddenly breached. Sensing the hounds desire for the party to flee the area, that became Tersplink’s wish and he began fleeing as fast as his little sorceror slippers would carry him.

Arradin and Dagfinn stepped up to handle the hounds, Dagfinn ably holding back the pack and preventing them from surrounding the party. Furious at their inability to close with the mortals, the hounds at the rear howled once more, sending Arradin into another panic. She fled out into the fog-filled temple trampling Tersplink, careening off walls and pillars as she went. Tersplink, who had already had this idea, continued his flight, albeit in a calmer, less scream-y way.

The fleeing pair made for the exit, but found themselves in a side passage, occupied by a confused looking Torgor. After sprinting around the Ranger with – respectively – a look of base fear/determination the elf and gnome looped back out of the hallway, Arradin running up to the sinkhole before suddenly calming down. The expectant townspeople were surprised at the shrieking gore-covered elf that appeared. But after gathering her composure, Arradin barked an order at them and they sheepishly withdrew from their vantage point.

Tersplink meanwhile ended up jogging back to the Temple of Lamashtu, despite his intentions to leave.

Back in the hole, the hounds were being slain, but had brought Kerplak to the ground, tripping him. Don, having provided support in the form of the Flame Sphere beach-ball of death now took his Dire Bear form, which proved effective with the slash and grab attacks; hugging the hounds to him and then gnawing at their heads. Dagfinn, meanwhile was dispatching the remainder with panache and Kerplak put a fatal crossbow bolt in the last as Don held it in his dire hairy embrace of death.

Dagfinn caught up with the perplexed Tersplink and Fascinated him through his killer moves, bringing him back to the others.

Something like this, I assume.

When Arradin returned, slightly embarrassed, they resumed their careful progress into an area of the tunnel increasingly filled with blood and body parts.

Fingers, ears, shattered swords, broken mail and other carnage by-products lay around the floor as they approached a crumbling room, yet again covered in text and scribbles, but now with an overlay of blood spray. Dagfinn took to investigating the walls as the others stood guard on the passage that led away from the room.

He found wide sprays of blood, mixed with small gobbets of flesh covering much of the text but also noticed a line of Thassilonian runes that seemed out of place amidst the many plaudits and pleas to Lamasthu. This was a) nothing to do with Lamastu b) fragmentary, while the odes to the Mother of Monsters were continuous and c) written in an odd, colour shifting ink.

What the text said, Dagfinn has not yet revealed, so neither will I. But it was this point that the voice asked another question. “Why did you lie?”.

The players have a whole week to think up a good answer.

Ben picked up The Compleat Adventurer for making me laugh with the inexplicably hilarious “That’s So Ravenloft.” I have no idea why that hit the mark so hard for me, but it did.