DM Lament Configuration's Carrion Hill

Game Master electricjokecascade

“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of the infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.”
― H. P. Lovercraft, The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories

[Loot] | [Maps]


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Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1

...wait a moment.

A spiral-shaped smear of blood? Like... like someone or something drew a spiral? 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (3) + 14 = 17 <-- Knowledge (Religion, Arcana, Dungeoneering, Planes)

Bah, Walter is distracted. Anyone else want to try?


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 10:00 p.m.

Anyone who draws closer to what at a distance looked like a spiral sees that, up close, it's a very crude rendition of three horned animal heads attached at the neck - goats, perhaps? rams? - with the horns pointed outward to form a circular shape

To identify the Sigil: DC 20 Know. Religion:
Tthe strange spiral as a symbol associated with both magical portals and the Dark Tapestry, the dark region between the stars where ancient gods are said to dwell—this check is also enough to reveal the association with the Old Cults, those who worship these ancient beings.

DC 30 Know. Religion:
You note that the sigil is one of many symbols tied to a specific one of these alien gods known as Shub Niggurath, an entity associated fertility.

Those who draw closer to the ruined building immediately notice a fetid stink that turns the stomach; even out in the open air and under the pouring rain, it enters the nose and cloys the sinuses, sinks into your throat like rancid oil, and makes your very eyes tear up. Black slime coats the shattered planks, but most of it seems to have been washed away by the rain.

Standing outside the building you can see that the northern wall has been burst outward. Through the huge hole you can see the shambles of what was once a living room; doors are shattered, furniture is splintered to pieces, and everything is coated in that thick, black ooze.

Yelena:
Even at a remove you can make out what must clearly be body parts littering this space - but you'd have to get enter the house to discern more.

Meanwhile, back behind the cordon, Sergeant Mattis leads Maritine and Mihaela to where Tarrig, a bearded, shivering man, sits under a blanket. His face lined, his eyes yellowed, he startles at your approach, but is all too eager to talk; the moment the sergeant indicates that you'd like to talk to him, he begins to babble.

"As every morning, the Slipper Market was awake early. The merchants set up stalls in the two hours before dawn and prepare their wares, and that was when a terrible something came crashing out of Marshan’s house. There were an awful lot of screams, and the entire house shook as if some great invisible hand had taken hold of it and was trying to push it into the ground or crumple it in its fist. I ran for the watch, but by the time we’d come back, it was all quiet. Wasn’t more than a few heartbeats after the guards led by Commander Garus entered Marshan’s home that the shaking and the screaming began again. Some of the guards ran back into the street only to be lifted into the air by something unseen and crushed most horrifically; it left behind only a few bodies, whatever it was. The house has been quiet ever since, but that doesn’t mean that the monster’s gone!” He stares at you wildly, his whole frame shaking. "I can't believe Garus didn't come back out! Of all people, Commander Garus!"

Healing DC 14:
The man is showing signs of an advanced addiction to flayleaf.


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Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1

Heal check --> 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (12) + 1 = 13

Get a rank into Heal next level...

The Message spell creates a pocket off altered air near the caster's mouth, a little cool spot of emptiness that produces the very faintest of hums. Walter murmurs into this. "Master Kolthis. Would you look at that... ah, symbol, on the wall there? I feel it should be familiar, though I... I cannot place it." Something about the slime is distressing to Walter, though he cannot articulate what it is. .

Words drift through the bottom of the wizard's mind, just below the level of consciousness, not so much thought as felt. As a foulness shall ye know Them...


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Female Human Gunslinger (Bolt Ace) 5 | HP:43/43 | Grit 4/4 |
Stats:
|AC 21, Touch 17, FlatFoot 14, CMD 21 | Fort +7, Ref +12, Will +5| Init +8 | Perception +13

Lys shudders in her coat once more, the rain a familiar, if unwelcome, old acquaintance. It's biting. Should've taken Bosworth on his offer. Making her way towards the spiral, Lys' nose wrinkles at the smell of waterlogged carnage. One glance at the alleyway is enough to send the hairs at the back of her neck springing up. I've seen worse... but barely., she notes, and as Yelena disappears down the alleyway, she takes a glance up at the wall, her teeth clenching. "Well, Matthis, I'm a career nevermind, and I've never seen anythin-", she begins saying, then her mouth suddenly stops, wide open. Running to the nearest shelter from the blinding downpour, she starts flipping her ancient libram frantically, until she finds it. A passage, barely a summary in the 'Compendium of Beasts, Monsters and Malefic Wytches', written next to a semi-erased sign of the three-headed goat.

The Compendium of Beasts, Monsters and Malefic Wytches wrote:
"Beware greatly, hunter, when you see the sigil of the three horned beasts. For the wyrd of its kin is antidiluvian, rivaling even existence itself. The ill-minded bedlamites who offer prayer to these eldritch unknowns, glimpse but a fragment of their power, but that is enough to fold reality and space, crossing leagues in the time it takes a weary man to blink, and blink you should not. For there are no nightmares worse than those lurking around the Old Cults."

Oh, gods, any gods. That's bad. Very, very bad. Slamming the book shut and quickly putting it down her satchel, Elize raises her wide-open eyes, ushering the wizard to join her. "Walter?", she hisses, with nary a jest in her voice. "Th- that's the sign of the Old Cults. Sign for portal magic and beings forgotten when the world was young. The Dark Tapestry." Turning to walk into the alley to rejoin the others, Lys pauses for a second to wait for the soggy wizard. "On the bright side.", a forced smile appears on her face. "At least it's not fey, right?"

Rolls/OoC:

Perception on Sigil: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (17) + 11 = 28
Sigil Identification: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (15) + 11 = 26
Bluffing Walter that she's not scared: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (11) + 0 = 11


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Female Half-elf {conditions: none} Inquisitor 5 | HP 28/28 | AC 22 (Tch 16 FF 16) | F +5 R +8 W +9 (+2 vs. ench.) | Init +10 | Perc +12, low-light vision, scent (vs. aberr.)

Heal: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 2 = 6 Nope

Spending a couple of rounds of discern lies to check for intentional falsehoods (GM's discretion — but enough to scrutinize the whole recounting of the events). If none is detected...

Mihaela listens impassibly to a tale which, in any other circumstance, she would have dismissed as wildly implausible but that, in the light of the recent events, she's forced to accept as another piece of an increasingly disturbing picture.

Under her stoic demeanor, however, her agitation grows. For all she knows, the thing could still be right there in the alley, lurking unseen, with no-one being the wiser. "Ex invisibilibus veritas" she whispers, beseeching her Goddess to grant her vision of the invisible world.

Casting see invisibility.

Her eyes briefly flash purple as she abruptly moves to positions herself to get a better view of the alley.

Assuming she's not triggering a boss fight here and now by discovering the monster...

Moving closer, she can finally make out the gruesome sigil in finer detail. She raises her head, her cowl sliding down and hanging limply behind her shoulders, and...

Knowledge (religion) (guidance): 1d20 + 6 + 1 ⇒ (13) + 6 + 1 = 20

...she freezes, shivers running down her spine, a feeling of unnatural cold having nothing to do with the rain, which is nonetheless now pouring all over her, standing motionless at the alley's entrance, her short brown hair rapidly getting soaked.

Will: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (19) + 9 = 28

Eventually, she manages to swallow down her fear. She averts her gaze from the wall only to see Elize walking her way, the exact same feverish looks in her eyes — an implicit acknowledgment of shared realization.


Female Human Lepidstadt Inspector 5 | Initiative +3 | Perception +10 | Fort +3 Ref +8 Will +7 | HP 45 AC 18

Healing: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (16) + 5 = 21

Maritine conceals a sigh of disappointment from poor Tarrig - addicts made for difficult witnesses at the best of times and the poor man was deep in the clutches of Flayleaf, but beggars could not be choosers.

Taking a well worn but cared for tome out of her pack and a writing implement she scribbles down shorthand as Tarrig rambles about the tragedy that had occured, at a guess, not too long before their arrival - something that had not escaped her notice.

She snaps her tome shut and lets it's lariat snap it to her side as Tarrig starts to shake in his panic and she leans down to carefully but firmly keep the man still and anchor his awareness.

"Calm yourself sir. Garus is missing until proven otherwise - focus on what you can tell me. This invisible force, did it smell, make a strange noise? No creature is truly without presence, think!" She's restrained in her interrogation but her eyes are sharp as she watches Tarrig intently for any tells, only vaguely aware that Mihaela seems to have moved towards the alley and the crime scene.


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[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 10:00 p.m.

Lys:
A voice speaks in your mind, a whisper as familiar as worn leather, absent but barely a week, evoked by the symbol you see on the wall:

"It is our duty to raise a candle in defiance of the dark, but let us pray the Lady of the Graves finds us whole of mind and pure of soul when she takes us into her care, and not shattered, not broken, not reduced to weeping ruins by sights not meant for mortal eyes."

The voice coursens.

"For that shall be your fate, Elize. To be locked away in an asylum, gagged to stop the screaming, hands bound so that you may not claw out your eyes, to await in the prison of your broken mind for Pharasma to grant you mercy. Poor child. You have nothing to prove to me. You showed your true colors when you ran before, and I tell you now, it is not too late to run again."

Mihaela hears nothing but fervent truth in Tarrig' voice; drawn away by her growing paranoia, she steps to the alley mouth and peers within - but sees nothing with her augmented vision that wasn't apparent before.

Mihaela:
The sight of the three goat heads daubed on the wall - for you know they are such, though you know not how nor why - however, brings forth a rapid deluge of memories, a flash flood that passes as quickly as it comes:

Heaving, glistening flesh. Moans in the dark. Voices raised in adulation, voices raised in fear. Screams. Screams like shards of glass being dragged against the inside of your skull. You're bound, you're held, you can't move, you can't breathe, but even if you were free, you know you'd lie there paralyzed, fixed in place by the... thing that is being birthed before you, that you are destined to serve, to feed, to become -

And then it is gone, leaving nothing in its passage but a cold sweat and your hammering, frantic heart.

Tarrig's eyes gleam as he stares up at Maritine, meeting her own shadowed eyes beneath the brim of her hat. "Did it smell, you ask? Oh aye, it did at that, me pretty lady. It reeked. It smelled so I thought I was near bout to die, and gave thanks that I would, that I'd escape this mortal coil and shuffle off into the care o' the Lady of Graves. As for the noise, you ask me? I thought I did hear it mewl, even as it tore them men apart. Hard to be sure. Hard - hard to m-m-make out anythin' o'er the screams. Screams of men knowin' they were about to die, then dyin' in truth. Men bein' twisted and torn like dolls by a petulant child. I heard that, I did."

He begins to smile, a twisted caricature of a grin, his whole body starting to tremble more fiercely. "On some level, I'm hearin' it still. Right now, in the depths o' me mind. The wet snap o' bone, the spatter of blood, the mewlin', the - the -"

Tarrig's gaze turns vacant, and he just sits there, staring up at Maritine, staring through her, at something only he can see.

A moment later, she smells the sharp tang of uric acid, and then sees a dark stain spread across his lap.

He doesn't move, though. Doesn't react. Just sits there shivering, staring, eyes wide, unseeing, grinning his flayleaf-stained teeth in an expression that is more feral snarl than anything akin to a smile.


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M CG Dwarf Fighter 2/Cleric of Desna 3 | HP: 50/50 | AC: 19, T: 12, FF: 17) | CMB: +9, CMD: 21 | F: +9, R: +4, W: +6 (+1 against Fear Effects) | Init: +7 | Darkvision 60ft, Perc: +10, SM: +6 | Speed 30ft | Spells: 1st 3/4 2nd 3/3 | Active conditions: None

Slipper Market was smaller than Kolthis had expected, which made the gruesome scene in front of them all the more accentuated. The rain didn’t bother him much, although he supposed it might have made inspecting the bloody scene more troublesome. He was no stranger to the view of death - hired muscle work had always been full of it. But these deaths - mangled, crushed, and utterly destroyed - were far from normal. He prayed for Desna to help guide their way in the beyond before taking a look at the rest of the scene.

Perception: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (8) + 10 = 18

Just as the massive smear of blood drew his eye, Kolthis heard the voice of Walter asking him to inspect it. Right, magical talking. Convenient. “Let’s see what that is, then.” he says, walking closer to inspect the wall, though unsure if Walter can actually hear him.

Knowledge(Religion): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (15) + 5 = 20

Kolthis froze in place upon seeing the sigil painted in blood. He had seen this only once before, when he had been reading for some information about the incident in the ruins with an older Desnan priest, but he remembered exactly what it meant.

Be vigilant of the Old Cults, for their agents work to bring into our world things most foul. Beware of their madness, their destruction. Beware the creatures of insanity, that exist in between seconds that seek to devour all that you are. Beware of the Dark Tapestry.

Those were the words written in that ancient tome, translated for him. He had heard other mentions of the Dark Tapestry, but only in whispers and warnings of constant vigilance. Never had he thought he would be facing them. Again. Was that the figure in his dreams then? It made sense then, why Desna, with her domain over the stars and work in the silence between planets, had sent him here.

Wait. The silence between planets. Similar to the Dark Tapestry, but a product of Desna. A product personified by The Black Butterfly.

Turning, Kolthis looked for Mihaela - and found her to be also looking at the sigil. He had been so engrossed in his own thoughts he didn’t even notice. Much more frantically than he wanted to show, he walked up to her to ask her what she knew about the sigil, only to see pallid complexion that mirrored his own. ”Ah, so you do know what this is. As I thought. Then you know, as I do, that if this sigil’s presence means what I fear - as you fear - then we, and this town, are in grave danger.”


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1

Okay so, first let's see if Knowledge [religion] or [planes] are any use now! (I don't approve of rolling Knowledges again and again until you get a good roll -- but "what does Walter know generally about Old Cults / Dark Tapestry" seems like a different question from "does Walter recognize this one symbol".)

1d20 + 14 ⇒ (15) + 14 = 29

and then whatever the outcome, let's see a DC 15 Will save to avoid triggering his Spooked drawback!

1d20 + 7 ⇒ (4) + 7 = 11

Wuh oh!


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Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1

Walter doesn't have bad dreams. He has a disciplined mind. Bad dreams would be a sign of mental disorganization! No, he doesn't have bad dreams. Well, hardly ever. It's very rare.

He has flashbacks instead.

Walter has a big damn flashback!:

...quite sure he's guilty?

Sure? Of course, your lordship! Convicted by a jury and all, right proper! He hangs tomorrow! The man in front of you is grubby, unshaven. His eyes glisten in the torchlight. Blind drunk, killed his wife an' the little girl, too! Chopped 'em right up! Guilty as sin, sir! In the cart behind the man is a sack of burlap, six feet long. It moves, just a little.

This is distasteful. But necessary. Very well. Step aside, then. The tall man steps out of the shadows, making the grubby man start in surprise. He carries a body over his shoulder. The old gardener had died quietly, some days ago; he was found in his hut in the morning. A simple preservative spell has kept the corpse fresh since then... Lay him there, next to the other one.

The grubby man backs away as Walter begins murmuring and gesturing. The spell takes effect quickly: in a few moments, the corpse of the old gardener has changed. Now it's a much younger man, dark haired and burly, with a face scarred by years of hard drinking. Done. Now...? The tall man steps forward and neatly cuts the corpse's throat.

Walter turns to the grubby man. You see, somehow he found a knife. And killed himself, in guilt and fear, before justice could be properly administered. Make sure the body is returned to his cell and, ah... appropriately displayed. The grubby man nods. All right then. Your payment, as agreed. Walter tosses the sack of coins to the grubby man. He pulls one out, bites it, grins.

Always a pleasure, your lordship!

Be off with you.

But that wasn't the bad part. The bad part came later, in the special room under the manor, when Walter brought the subject to his teacher.

The terrible old man, frail and bearded, smiles hideously Walter. Well done, my apprentice! Now, let us see. He approached the bound man, rolled up an eyelid, checked a pulse. The captive moans faintly, struggles for a moment against his bonds, falls back. Yes, well done. What an apt pupil you are, Walter. Walter tries to smile back, but it's tremulous and weak. On a shelf behind the old man there are two peculiar bottles, each containing a small piece of lead suspended pendulum-wise from a string. A bottle is bad. Two bottles are very bad.

They will be pleased, I think. Now, Walter, the sky is clear and the moon is dark and the hour is close at hand. The terrible old man gestures at an open case of instruments, shiny and sharp. Now, my apprentice, it is time for your next lesson. You will prepare the specimen, under my supervision.

Prepare? You mean, ah... Walter swallows hard. Do you think I am, ah... ready, Master?

The old man's yellow eyes spark with malevolent amusement. Oh, yes, boy. You've been ready for a long time. Now! Our friends draw close. Let us begin.

Walter swallows again, feels acid churn in his stomach. This is... unfortunate. But They are coming, and it would be most unwise to disappoint Them. And there's so much. So much to be learned. Wisdom from beyond this world, beyond the stars, beyond space and time themselves.

Walter reaches out. His hand hovers a moment, hesitating. Then he chooses an instrument from the case, sharp and silver. The terrible old man chuckles and nods.

The captive's eyes bulge. Behind the gag, he tries to scream. And scream.

Outside the flashback: Walter gets very quiet for a few long moments. Anyone standing near him may notice he's trembling.

DC 14 Sense Motive check:
Walter is almost paralyzed with terror. His eyes are fixed and staring, and he literally can't speak for several long moments. Mechanically, Walter has the Shaken condition, which is -2 to pretty much everything -- attacks, saves, you name it.


Female Human Gunslinger (Bolt Ace) 5 | HP:43/43 | Grit 4/4 |
Stats:
|AC 21, Touch 17, FlatFoot 14, CMD 21 | Fort +7, Ref +12, Will +5| Init +8 | Perception +13

Sweat bursts out on Lys' brow as the familiar voice starts whispering in her head. Darting to turn around, as if expecting Viktor to be behind her, the only thing in her wake is the horrid symbol on the wall and the torrential downpour. "Viktor?", she mutters out, as the gravel in the voice turns wicked. "I'm sorry, you told me to run, godsd-", she responds to the air, her tone cracking, before she clenches her teeth with closed eyes. Hey, you, voice. Whatever you are, because you're sure not him. You don't know him and you don't know me. Clutching the dagger in her coat tightly, she pushes her thoughts at the front of her mind. Only I decide when I want to run.

Hands in her pockets, she carries on, head deep in thoughts as Mihaela's silhouette appears from the alleyway, a pale look on her eyes as they glance up. Towards it. Lifting her head to look at the taller woman in the eyes, Lys' lips purse in silence. The rustling of the heavily armoured dwarf approaching, the final confirmation on his mouth. "Well.", she says with a dark half-smile. "We figured that out when we heard of the carnage. Now we know exactly how deep the grave part of the danger is."

Turning towards Walter, the wizard standing straight in the rain, head lost in thoughts as usual, Lys puts her hand across her mouth. "Hey! Walter! It's your conscience speaking. I'll see where the creature went. Should figure out if it can teleport on its own, or needs a little helper." Taking her hand off, she turns towards Mihaela and Kolthis. "Not that it's the quietest of prey, but I'm going to see where it appeared and where it disappeared. If it was smart enough to draw on the wall, it might be smart enough to use magic, but there might be some evidence left behind."

Rolls/OoC:

Sense Motive on Walter: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (2) + 11 = 13 Just Walter being Walter.
Survival to determine the path of the beast while it was active.: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (15) + 11 = 26


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Female Human Psychic (Esoteric Starseeker) 5 | HP 27/27 | AC: 18 (T: 11, FF: 17) | Saves: F:+7, R:+5, W:+9 (+2 vs fear effects) | Init: +6 | Perc. +10
More Info:
BAB: +2, CMB: 1, CMD: +12 | Spells: (1st) 4/8, (2nd) 6/6 | Active Conditions: Heightened Awareness: +2 to Perception/Knowledge checks

Once in the alley, Yelena tilts her head curiously at the symbol. It’s strange, out of place, ritualistically drawn, and so familiar...

K. Religion: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (19) + 13 = 32

A fragment of a fragment of memory comes to her mind. Not hers. One she’d seen in another’s mind. Shortly before the seemingly-normal man had transformed into something...other.

The new moon. The woodlands. A strange spiral shape drawn on the ground, in honor of...

A horrifying entity, as tall as a tree but made entirely of ropey tentacles, presiding over a stone altar. The unfortunate victim, bound and screaming as she’s slaughtered in the name of...

A foul-smelling ‘milk’, eagerly drunk by the ecstatic cultists, so that they may transform into creatures better able to serve...

”Iä! Shub-Niggurath! The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young!”

Yelena stares at the symbol, trembling, then retreats out of the alleyway. Oh Starsong, Great Dreamer, is this why we’re here?

A foolish question. Of course it is. Uprising and Lost, a creature summoned specifically to drag the world into its madness...

At least she hasn’t been sent here alone.

”Walter,” she whispers. ”Walter, What we’re facing here...have you heard of the Black Goat?” He’s more well-read than her, it’s likely he’s come across information in one of those Academies he was so proud of that’s far more extensive than her own memory or a memory.

She pointedly doesn’t use its real name. Names have power, and she doesn’t want to attract more attention than she already has.

One thing’s for sure, she’s not going into that house alone. ”Kolthis? Lys? Would you mind coming with me to check out the house?” The North Star has guided them all here, they should take advantage of what little safety numbers can grant them.


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Female Half-elf {conditions: none} Inquisitor 5 | HP 28/28 | AC 22 (Tch 16 FF 16) | F +5 R +8 W +9 (+2 vs. ench.) | Init +10 | Perc +12, low-light vision, scent (vs. aberr.)

With a titanic effort, the half-elf steels herself against the flood of half-suppressed memories suddenly bursting out of her subconscious

you weren't sent

controlling her breath

you were summoned

relaxing her muscles

your Goddess was devoured aeons ago

expanding the stillness between each heartbeat

you are no huntress

savoring it,

you are FOOD

until her heart finally resumes its usual, measured rhythm.

"Grave indeed" she eventually finds the strength to reply, finding solace in Lys and Kolthis's proximity, two strangers until but a couple of minutes ago whose fate has been now intertwined with hers by forces beyond her comprehension. "Truly, I am now more than ever thankful I wasn't sent alone" she says, suddenly looking smaller and vulnerable yet hopeful at the same time — a stark contrast with the rigid, pragmatic attitude she has displayed until now. For a brief moment, she even manages to summon the shade a smile as she utters the words.

Sense Motive: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (4) + 12 = 16

In doing so, she turns towards Walter, who hasn't yet spoken a single word. Having just experienced it firsthand, it is as if she can understand and perceive some small amount of his terror herself.

"None of us is alone" she calmly states, laying a hand on the transfixed man's shoulder. "take your time. We are here with you, but I'm afraid we will have need of your expertise sooner rather than later."

Unable to offer any more assistance, she turns instead to the crossbow-woman, nodding quietly as she states her intention of trying to track the creature's movements. "Allow me to help."

Using her scent ability in conjunction with a Survival check to pick up a track by smell (works only if the creature was an aberration).

Survival (guidance): 1d20 + 10 + 1 ⇒ (12) + 10 + 1 = 23


Female Human Lepidstadt Inspector 5 | Initiative +3 | Perception +10 | Fort +3 Ref +8 Will +7 | HP 45 AC 18

Maritine lets go of poor Tarrig and stands straight with a sigh tinged with both pity and disappointment at the results she had gleaned from ruined shell of a man. Cruel as it was to think she didn't imagine him much longer for the world, choosing a flayleaf oblivion over retaining the awful memories of what he had witnessed.

Perhaps it was best this way.

Leaving Tarrig to his stupor and having little to work with she turns and looks about for her companions - perhaps they had had better luck in the alley.

Knowledge - Religion: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (2) + 9 = 11

The sigil, symbol, whatever it was - it was difficult to miss. Just as it was impossible to ignore the twinge of revulsion in her soul from the sight of it. She wasn't familiar with that particular foul brand and judging by the ghastly faces of her companions it was perhaps the smallest of blessings.

But she knew herself. And she knew she'd seek answers, throwing away the blissful safety of ignorance for knowledge and all the dangers therein.

Walter seems to be suffering the worst from his knowledge of the abhorrent symbol and has the others carefully tending to him. Approaching slowly but purposfully Maritine positions herself so that she doesn't have to look at the sigil while she speaks and perhaps angle herself to block line of sight as she carefully enquirers "I presume then that you know more than I, about what that means." She keeps her voice low but steady and together - she could be a rock for her companions, for the time being.


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1
Yelena Stanescu wrote:


”Walter,” she whispers. ”Walter, What we’re facing here...have you heard of the Black Goat?” He’s more well-read than her, it’s likely he’s come across information in one of those Academies he was so proud of that’s far more extensive than her own memory or a memory.

He got a DC 29 Knowledge check, so I'm pretty sure he knows stuff. Give him a moment to pull himself together... Walter's Shaken condition lasts d4+1 rounds, so 1d4 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 1 = 3.


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1
Yelena Stanescu wrote:


”Walter,” she whispers. ”Walter, What we’re facing here...have you heard of the Black Goat?”

It's several moments before Walter can reply. "Yes," he says hoarsely. "Yes, I have."

DC 15 Will save, not against being Shaken, but just against saying something inappropriate. 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (5) + 7 = 12 Damn, not a good morning for Walter's peace of mind.


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1
Quote:
"Hey! Walter! It's your conscience speaking.

"I..."

Quote:
"I presume then that you know more than I, about what that means."

"I, ah... I have some, I was, I was"

Quote:
”Walter, What we’re facing here...have you heard of the Black Goat?”

"I'm sorry," Walter's voice breaks into a squeak, more like a child than a grown man. "I was... misguided, I was very misguided, I, I... I tried, there at the end, I tried, but, I..." Walter squeezes his eyes shut, trembling. "Unclean," he says softly. "So unclean."


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1
Quote:
"None of us is alone" she calmly states, laying a hand on the transfixed man's shoulder. "take your time. We are here with you, but I'm afraid we will have need of your expertise sooner rather than later."

"Need my... expertise. Yes. I know... things. Yes." Walter visibly pulls himself together. Appealing to his knowledge works! This time.

He turns to Mihaela. How will he react to her kind and thoughtful words? Hmm... maybe treat this as an untrained Diplomacy check?1d20 + 1 ⇒ (6) + 1 = 7 "Well! Yes." He turns his back on her and strides off. "Nobody should enter that house alone, indeed! We must go together. And if something is left there, we must burn it with fire!"

Walter and social skills: still a work in progress.


Female Human Psychic (Esoteric Starseeker) 5 | HP 27/27 | AC: 18 (T: 11, FF: 17) | Saves: F:+7, R:+5, W:+9 (+2 vs fear effects) | Init: +6 | Perc. +10
More Info:
BAB: +2, CMB: 1, CMD: +12 | Spells: (1st) 4/8, (2nd) 6/6 | Active Conditions: Heightened Awareness: +2 to Perception/Knowledge checks

Unlean? Having retreated out of the alley, Yelena is faced with something she'd never expected to see. Walter, upset, unsure, and...apologizing?

Whatever had happened to change him so much, it must have something to do with this. The Dark Tapestry. Perhaps even the Black Goat? But looking at Walter, seeing him like this...she can't bring herself to ask.

She should, probably. Twin still floats in her mind, warning of divided loyalties. While she doesn't think Walter, (at least this Walter), would want to aid a creature like this, that doesn't mean he isn't.

The Starsong has brought several of her servants here. No reason the Dark Tapestry couldn't summon a few champions of its own.

No. She has to trust her companions. The Walter she'd known...yes, there had been reason to be wary of him, that man who would have sacrificed anything for knowledge. But that had been long ago.

(The Walter she'd known had never apologized for anything.)

She hesitates, then lays a hopefully-comforting hand on his shoulder. "We're all here now. That's what matters. Whatever this creature is, we'll stop it. Together." Glancing at Maritine, she sees the slight confusion in her eyes and offers a quick explanation for the rest of the group. "That symbol, it represents the Black Goat of a Thousand Young. A creature of the Dark Tapestry. We should be wary as we investigate further. These kinds of things...they often result in worse than death."

With everyone hopefully aware of what they face, she once again turns to the alley. Taking a deep breath, she joins Walter as he heads forward. "The creature emerged from inside this house. Let us see if we can figure out where it originally came from...and perhaps where it is going next."

Planning to enter the smashed house from the alleyway. I've gone ahead and placed my token on the map.


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 10:00 p.m.

Together you venture into the ruined building, picking a careful path over the rubble and black slime. The room whose wall has been destroyed (A3 on map) is still somewhat recognizable as a living room – one in complete disarray of course, and smelling worse than open graves and diseased beasts. Smashed furniture is everywhere, along with rubble.

The farther you venture into the room, the less the rain has been able to wash away the signs of battle. Here the gore is copious and even more gruesome – a drop of cold sweat runs down Mihaela’s spine when, trying to move an abandoned boot, she feels the weight of a human foot inside. An arm, coated in black and still holding a longblade with a pale, blood-drained hand, has been ripped off and cast aside near a destroyed cabinet.

One body in particular catches your attention. Though dressed in black akin to the other Crows, the quality of its gear is a cut above; the slime and gore encrusted cloak is of fine sable, the ruined armor carved with magical symbols, and the snapped blade held in its gauntleted hand was clearly an object of wonder and might.

The man's head has been utterly crushed, reduced to a paste of bone, brain, and blood, as if a thousand pound rock and fallen upon him. Around his neck, however, you can still make out a pendant of a butterfly.

Knowledge Religion:

Lys: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (4) + 11 = 15
Kolthis: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (7) + 5 = 12
Walter: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (20) + 14 = 34
Maritine: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (15) + 9 = 24
Mihaela: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (18) + 6 = 24

While Lys and Kolthis immediately recognize the pendant as the holy symbol of Desna, Walter, Maritine, and Mihaela feel a shudder of horror: the pendant is particular to the holy paladins of Desna, indicating that Garus was much more than a simple Crow.

Terrifying as this sight can be, the worse thing is the smell. Where the rain can’t get, you see the thick, sticky black slime covering rubble and floor alike - clearly the source of the stench. The smell is almost overwhelming, and somehow wrong, in a way that no rotting corpse could ever be. It twists your visions, filling the air in the room with vapors akin to heat shimmers, and coats the tops of your mouths in greasy slime. All seem affected by it to some degree, except Mihaela.

Mihaela:
The smell is noxious, yes, but not nearly so overpowering as the others seem to make it out to be.

Saves:

Lys Fort Save: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (18) + 7 = 25
Kolthis Fort Save: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (12) + 9 = 21
Walter Fort Save: 1d20 ⇒ 4
Maritine Fort Save: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (19) + 3 = 22
Yelena Fort Save: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (18) + 7 = 25

Walter in particular is badly affected by the stench; he nearly retches as he walks through the room, and feels his gorge rise several times, his stomach spasming and nearly doubling him over. Walter is sickened for as long as she remains near the vicinity of the slime.

[Tag all?]

Moving on, you proceed into the next room (A4) was once a cluttered but cozy parlor, but now the couches, bookshelves, tables, and other comforts are in complete disarray. The eastern wall is partially collapsed, including what once may have been a fireplace to the northwest and two doors leading into other rooms of the building to the southwest. A hideous smell wafts through these holes.

An examination of the books reveals that the vast majority are about the history of Carrion Hill and the immediate surroundings, including a large number of books about astronomy as well. None are outstanding in their rarity, and most are rather damaged by the rain leaking through the new holes in the roof. [Tag?]

The last room (A5) appears to have once been a library and bedroom is now in a shambles. Furniture is splintered, shelves and books smashed and torn, and everything is coated with a thick, stinking layer of tar-like sludge. A door frame lies burst open to the southwest, beyond which a flight of slime-smeared stone steps leads downward into the dark.

The books here follow the same topics as those in the parlor, though these seem to be much more valuable and focused on strange forms and sinister cults.

It's also immediately obvious from the swirls left in the black slime that the monster came up from below - judging from the amount smeared on the walls and ceiling, whatever it was had to squeeze itself into the space in order to clamber up the stairs. There is no evidence that they thing returned the way it came, and in the stairwell itself, the slime has dried and become less foul smelling.

The stairs lead down into the dark, perhaps fifteen steps in all before taking a right turn. All is silent from below.


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1

Walter is in profound misery at every level -- mental, spiritual, and physical. Nevertheless: books.

--> Walter will stop to examine both bookshelves closely. Walter's Perception is not great 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (11) + 1 = 12 and he knows it, so he will ask others with sharper eyes to do the same.


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Female Half-elf {conditions: none} Inquisitor 5 | HP 28/28 | AC 22 (Tch 16 FF 16) | F +5 R +8 W +9 (+2 vs. ench.) | Init +10 | Perc +12, low-light vision, scent (vs. aberr.)

@Walter: well, you did mention burning things with fire, which as everyone knows grants a +20 circumstance bonus when interacting with inquisitors — so I'll consider your attempt at Diplomacy a resounding success :)

Mihaela smirks at Walter's promise of pyroclastic retribution, welcoming the man back into their fold. She proceeds to follow him and Yelena into the half-ruined house.

Once again, she's slipped back in the familiar role of the dispassionate inquisitor, analytically scanning the surrounding butchery; yet even then, rivulets of cold sweat mixed with rainwater slide down her back as she carefully makes her way while trying to avoid stepping on other human remains.

The search and rescue part of their mission proves to be awfully short as the corpse of a high-ranking Crow officer — which could have only belonged to Lord Garus — is among the first things to be spotted among the debris. Her sense of uneasiness grows upon recognizing the pendant and its meaning. Recognizing a fellow warrior of the Faith, she mutters a short prayer under her breath: "Farewell, unmet Champion of the Northern Star. We shall pick up your fight as She guides you along the Stairway, and preserves you from the Horrors Beyond.".

She doesn't linger long. Among the faithfuls, there are those who have dedicated their lives to bring help, support, and comfort, those charged with the tending of the flock, the wandering preachers, and then many, many more. She, however, was trained for a singular purpose: to bring retribution upon those who would harm any of them. She clings to this belief with all the willpower she is able to muster, even if her expression betrays one singular concern: Lord Garus had the favor of Desna. And Lord Garus was slaughtered nonetheless.

Venturing deeper into the house, she offers to help Walter with browsing through the tomes; as menial a task as she can find to distract herself from the gloom thoughts clouding her mind.

@DMLC: tag Mihaela entering the room and investigating the books in areas A4 and A5. Also, would the Black Goat Yelena mentioned ring any bells to her?

Perception (guidance): 1d20 + 12 + 1 ⇒ (16) + 12 + 1 = 29


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 10:00 p.m.

Sorting through the books will take some time; they've been spilled from their shelves, half are waterlogged, and they're piled atop each other in a manner most disrespectful to occult literature.

Mihaela squats beside the first pile and sorts through a dozen in quick order, and confirms what Walter has begun to suspect: these are introductory texts, most of them accounts of third party tales, filled with common knowledge and fanciful illustrations. To dig through the whole pile would require hours, but from that brief sampling, Mihaela chooses to move into the bedroom.

There the books prove to be of more serious quality: journals of travelers descending into the depths of forbidden Mwangi temples; art books created by aesthetes driven mad by their own obsessions; blasphemous lexicons culled from the mouths of a score of asylum inmates who all spontaneously manifested elder signs upon their bodies.

Nothing leaps out as magical, but to be sure, again, would require a good thirty minutes to an hour of working her way through the morass of books.

@Mihaela: I will leave that decision up to you - it's certainly possible that your inquisitor has focused on that being and learned its name given her background.


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M CG Dwarf Fighter 2/Cleric of Desna 3 | HP: 50/50 | AC: 19, T: 12, FF: 17) | CMB: +9, CMD: 21 | F: +9, R: +4, W: +6 (+1 against Fear Effects) | Init: +7 | Darkvision 60ft, Perc: +10, SM: +6 | Speed 30ft | Spells: 1st 3/4 2nd 3/3 | Active conditions: None

Stop it? Yelena’s words of explanation ring hollow in Kolthis’ ears. How can we stop something like this? he thinks, as he looks at the destruction around them. What can we do against such reckless hate? Do they understand what we’re dealing with? A flare of anger, born of the embers of frustration and helplessness he remembers all too well, rose up, unbidden, in Kolthis. Do they even begin to comprehend?

Sense Motive:

Sense motive: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (9) + 6 = 15

Yet, as he looks around at the faces of his companions, he sees the terror that grips them like a vice, just as it does him. Still, they endeavor to move forward. Together.

As quickly as it came, the anger receded. They do. And they’ll continue in spite of it. So who am I to shirk at the same? After all, I’m not alone this time. Lifted out of his dark thoughts, Kolthis enters the house with the rest of the group.

Walking through the carnage of the rooms stirs images of Kolthis’ nightmares, both lived through and dreamt. They stumble upon the body of a Crow, but clearly more than just a soldier. Once ornate and magical gear adorned the crushed, lifeless body of who Kolthis assumed could only once have been Commander Garus. It seems that he was right about hope - and he despises it. Seeing the holy symbol of Desna, the same he wore around his neck, Kolthis felt emotions of loss he couldn’t explain, ones that he was sure the Mayor would feel manyfold over.

Kneeling down by the body, Kolthis placed a hand over the Commander’s chest and prayed to their Goddess. He died doing your work, Starsong. The least he deserves is the fortune of a clear path to walk in the afterlife.

As he finishes, Kolthis grabs the remains of the butterfly pendant and, carefully, tries to take it off to stow the remains in his pack. There was no time now, but later he could attempt to fix it with Mending, and then perhaps the Mayor would want it as a keepsake.

It was only then that Kolthis really noticed the stench of the room. This would have been a great time to have prepared Remove Sickness. Stupid. he berates himself as he sees Walter being hit particularly bad. With nothing to do about it now, he moved on through the remains of the library, looking for any indication of the creatures presence, or perhaps even anything noteworthy among the rubble.

Perception:

Perception: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (3) + 10 = 13

As they reach the stairs descending into darkness, Kolthis stops the party for a moment, as he unsheathes his lucerne hammer and casts Light on it. ”Although my vision in the dark is rather good, I am sure some of you may not share the same blessing, so I figure some light will be a good idea.” He nods to the rest of the group, and holds Lucy firmly in his grasp, now emanating light, preparing for the possibility of something, anything, in the darkness beyond. With a deep breath, he says ”I will take point, whenever we’re ready.”

If we're spending some time looking at stuff in the library, Kolthis will use that as time to go through the casting Mending process on the holy symbol pendant.


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1
DM Lament Configuration wrote:

There the books prove to be of more serious quality: journals of travelers descending into the depths of forbidden Mwangi temples; art books created by aesthetes driven mad by their own obsessions; blasphemous lexicons culled from the mouths of a score of asylum inmates who all spontaneously manifested elder signs upon their bodies.

Nothing leaps out as magical, but to be sure, again, would require a good thirty minutes to an hour of working her way through the morass of books.

Walter stares at the books, one part disgusted, three parts intrigued. Then -- after a moment of obvious internal struggle -- he says, "We should... move these out of the rain, and come back to examine them later." The wizard turns and stares across the room at the open door and the stairs going down.

Quote:
The stairs lead down into the dark, perhaps fifteen steps in all before taking a right turn. All is silent from below.

Walter suppresses a gag, swallows hard, wipes the back of his hand across his mouth. Then he looks at the rest of the party with hollow eyes. "It, ah... it seems very unlikely, but there might be... survivors. Someone hiding. Or, or captured. We should... we should..." Walter breathes heavily, once, twice. "We should go down there and look."


Female Human Psychic (Esoteric Starseeker) 5 | HP 27/27 | AC: 18 (T: 11, FF: 17) | Saves: F:+7, R:+5, W:+9 (+2 vs fear effects) | Init: +6 | Perc. +10
More Info:
BAB: +2, CMB: 1, CMD: +12 | Spells: (1st) 4/8, (2nd) 6/6 | Active Conditions: Heightened Awareness: +2 to Perception/Knowledge checks

Yelena grimaces at the sight of Commander Garus' body. She hadn't really expected anything else, but she'd been hoping...

For a fraction of a second her vision wavers, grows dark. Hope? Hope won't help you here, child. Your Dreamer sleeps and will not wake to save you. She has abandoned you, just as she abandoned this fool. All hope is lost...

No!

Perhaps the voice she hears is merely her own doubts, and she's wasting time arguing with herself.

Perhaps not. Does it matter?

Yelena wrings her hands together, breathing hard. No. You lie. You always lie. And that you feel the need to lie...that proves that we're not too late.

She helps Walter move the books to a slightly drier corner. While they may not have time to go through them now, later they might prove essential to solving this mystery. Then she faces the darkness below.

"Survivors or no, the creature came from down there. This was the first place it emerged." Yelena grimaces. "It was born here. If we can find its place of origin, perhaps we can find out who summoned it. And why."

As they descend the stairs she stays near the back of the group, muttering a brief prayer. "North Star, guide us, show us the way..." She takes a deep breath, focuses, and allows her inner magic to be set free.

Casting Heightened Awareness. For 50 minutes Yelena has a +2 bonus to all Perception and Knowledge checks, and can dismiss the spell for a +4 to initiative if necessary.


Female Human Gunslinger (Bolt Ace) 5 | HP:43/43 | Grit 4/4 |
Stats:
|AC 21, Touch 17, FlatFoot 14, CMD 21 | Fort +7, Ref +12, Will +5| Init +8 | Perception +13

The Black Goat of a Thousand Young. Should write it down, so that the next person getting the book would know. Little by little, light by light, right?, Lys' mind repeats the name in her head, as the group ventures inside the house.

The stench is overwhelming, but Lys holds her breath steadily. Whether due to fortitude, habit, or simply because her stomach, too, has clenched shut, all of her body focused into dealing with the carnage of black ooze and stained crimson covering the ruined walls and floors of the house. Her mind struggles to find words to describe the utter brutality of the slaughter, and she remains quiet, the unspoken words crawling in her head. That's... worse than Nirmathas. There was at least something... natural to that. This is just destruction for destruction's sake. As the others move to cast their final blessings on the deceased, she remains silent, eyes solemnly glancing over the remains of the Crows, scattered in the rooms like a macabre jigsaw.

"Let's leave the books for now.", she feels her voice, jagged and faint, leave her mouth as Walter starts examining the library. "We need to find the house owner. Whereever they are, I have some very pointed questions for them." Joining the others at the entrance of the stairs, she winces with disdain, opening her coat to reveal a multitude of flasks, crossbow bolts, and a jar of pickled garlic. Taking out a couple of darkened vials, filled with a thick, pale-white liquid. "Smear this on yourselves.", she says, taking off the stopper off one of them, as the smell of pungent cat urine and feral musk fills the air. "Prime, triple-distilled and calcinated village mouser. If the cat's anything to go by, any animal smaller than a grizzly will do its best to avoid you." Rubbing the paste on her boots and naked skin, Lys passes the vials around. "I'll bring up the rear. If I shut up, there's something behind you." Pulling down the crossbow from her back, a click of a lever draws the string, and a foot-long steel-tipped bolt comes out.


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 10:00 p.m.

Mihaela takes the lead.

It's not an inviting descent. The doorway is narrow, the framing crooked, the timber so old it's near fibrous. The stairway's walls press in claustrophobically tight, so close that her shoulders - and those of them that follow - near brush them on either side. The darkness is a thing near palpable, made bearable only by the receding strength of the slime's stench; the further down you go, the dryer the slime becomes, and the weaker its venomous odor.

The very air is pregnant with tension and expectation, as if the walls, the steps, the building itself was watching you descend into the depths, and waiting for some terrible development.

Down Mihaela goes, till she reaches the turn, and peering around it sees another flight of stairs descending even further before turning again. She moves slowly, carefully, supremely aware of the fact that she's out front, alone.

This second flight of stairs, however, is marred by rubble and loose rock; dust and debris lie on the steps continuously, and the walls themselves bear signs of violence in the shape of pick-ax marks and other sharp blows.

Knowledge Engineering DC 15:
It's clear the stairwell after the turn was once blocked solid with debris and loose rock, and that it has been but recently cleared.

What's more, the very nature of the walls change as you descend. The stairwell's architectural style goes from post and lintel framing, simple and crude, to an older, more refined style of stone archways and brickwork.

Knowledge Engineering/History DC 17:
This new construction is reminiscent of an ancient Taldan building style, but one that is several centuries old - if forced to guess, you'd wager you've descended into a layer of Carrion Hill that's easily three hundred years old.

Down the steps go, then they take another right turn, then a second, until finally spilling out into a large room.

This chamber’s brick-lined walls are supported by fifteen foot-high stone arches. Between each arch, circular alcoves have been cut into the wall, each containing a stone sarcophagus. One sarcophagus on the southern wall has toppled over, spilling its long-dead occupant partially out on the brick floor. A dry swath of black sludge nearly ten feet wide runs down the center of the room, connecting the west and northeast stairs. The far end of the hall seems to have collapsed long ago.

Not a sound but your own harsh breaths. The air is cool, mineral, and fusty with the passage of long, silent centuries.

(Map updated. Please place your icons accordingly.)


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1

Message is on, so Mihaela can tell us what she sees. Does she want to call us down, or explore stealthily / invisibly?

Since it doesn't look like there'll be a need to ambush an attacker, Walter stands up from his tense crouch partway down the stairs. He pulls out a flask of oil and pours it into the metal receptacle at the end of his staff, producing a clear yellow flame. Lantern staff: magical light is all well and good, but sometimes you want the option of burning something.


Female Half-elf {conditions: none} Inquisitor 5 | HP 28/28 | AC 22 (Tch 16 FF 16) | F +5 R +8 W +9 (+2 vs. ench.) | Init +10 | Perc +12, low-light vision, scent (vs. aberr.)

Mihaela peers into the stairway descending into darkness. It is difficult to believe a creature of such ruinous strength was capable to squeeze through its narrow walls, but all the signs are clear. They now know what they have to do.

She knows what she has to do. "I'll go first" she states — the firm resoluteness in her tone the mark of a decision already taken. "I'll relay everything I see through Walter. If I stop responding — bar this entry by any means possible. Burn down the house and collapse it above it, if need be."

Ok that was a bit melodramatic, I admit it.

She rubs the contents of one of Lys's vials all over her coat and skin and silently stands motionless as she feels Walter's familiar spell gently embracing and shielding her. A couple of whispered words "Per obscuriores semitas" and she suddenly disappears into thin air.

Casting invisibility, duration: 5 minutes. Stealth checks for the GM, if needed (pick best)

Stealth: 1d20 + 14 + 20 ⇒ (11) + 14 + 20 = 45
Stealth: 1d20 + 14 + 20 ⇒ (18) + 14 + 20 = 52

Not three heartbeats pass that a whisper is heard benedicamini apparently out of nowhere, immediately followed by a soothing sensation washing over the whole party.

Casting bless, everyone gets +1 morale bonus to atk. rolls and save vs. fear effects for 5 minutes.

With that, her right foot is already on the first, slime-covered step, and down she goes, alone with the sound of her beating heart. Not even half a minute passes — though her growing sense of vulnerability and claustrophobia has made it feel like far longer — that Walter hears Mihaela's voice coming to him in a whisper.

"All clear. Three turns right, then one left, then a large, partially collapsed hall. Architecture here looks older, can't quantify though. More stairs ahead, trail continues."

Mihaela moves to the eastern end of the hall and reports on what she sees down the northern flight of stairs. If everything's clear, she calls down the others.

Perception: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (19) + 12 = 31


Female Human Psychic (Esoteric Starseeker) 5 | HP 27/27 | AC: 18 (T: 11, FF: 17) | Saves: F:+7, R:+5, W:+9 (+2 vs fear effects) | Init: +6 | Perc. +10
More Info:
BAB: +2, CMB: 1, CMD: +12 | Spells: (1st) 4/8, (2nd) 6/6 | Active Conditions: Heightened Awareness: +2 to Perception/Knowledge checks

Yelena follows close behind Walter as they descend down the steps. The tight corridors are close, too close, and she feels a distinct twinge of uneasiness. Living her entire life on the open road, small spaces are not something she's fond of.

K. History, HA: 1d20 + 10 + 2 ⇒ (14) + 10 + 2 = 26

She studies the walls, trying to ignore their closeness in favor of unearthing their secrets. "This place is old," she murmurs. "Much older than the rest of Carrion Hill. Several centuries older, if I had my guess."

What, if anything, that means is for others to decide. She's no investigator or scholar. She's just a fortune-teller, trying to make sense of things that by their very nature make no sense at all.

"Starsong's blessings go with you, Mihaela. We'll be following close behind, should anything happen." Despite Mihaela's comment, Yelena has no intention of leaving a companion behind. Even one so recently met.


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 10:00 p.m.

Mihaela ghosts down the steps, moving so lightly that she can't even hear the echo of her own footsteps. Moving carefully across the hall, she passes before the alcoves and their sarcophogi, watching them closely, expecting, perhaps, for the ancient lids to begin to slide aside - but none do.

The silence aches, and Mihaela almost dares not breathe.

Still she reaches the far side without incident, and stops before the second stairwell to peer into its dark depths.

There are ten steps, descending steeply to a small landing, and then she can see that they take a sharp right and continue descending out of sight.

1 minute of invisibility down.


M CG Dwarf Fighter 2/Cleric of Desna 3 | HP: 50/50 | AC: 19, T: 12, FF: 17) | CMB: +9, CMD: 21 | F: +9, R: +4, W: +6 (+1 against Fear Effects) | Init: +7 | Darkvision 60ft, Perc: +10, SM: +6 | Speed 30ft | Spells: 1st 3/4 2nd 3/3 | Active conditions: None

Kolthis was hesitant to let Mihaela go on her own ahead. He knew not the extent of her abilities, but moreso he was want to be in a case once again of separation from his allies where his presence could prevent a horrid death.

But Kolthis had to admit, this was a long throw away from the nightmares of his past. For she had invisibility and stealth, and he knew tagging along with his heavy armor would only be a nuisance.

"As Yelena says, we will be prepared. Be safe, Mihaela."

As she disappears, and a soothing sensation that Kolthis recognizes washes over him, he followed Yelena and Walter, trying to pay more attention to the halls of old for anything to threaten them, rather than examining the ancient structure.

Perception: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (10) + 10 = 20


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Female Human Lepidstadt Inspector 5 | Initiative +3 | Perception +10 | Fort +3 Ref +8 Will +7 | HP 45 AC 18

Black Goat. A Thousand Young. The Dark Tapestry. Old Gods.

Very old Gods. Ancient even by the eons of deities. Maritine knew bits and pieces of sums and parts - not because she lacked knowledge but because she had seen what had happened to those that had delved too far, too deep into knowing things that mortals couldn't and shouldn't know. Black tomes kept under lock and key and a dozen wards filled with the kind of of secrets had gambled their sanity for - and lost.

The carnage inside is worse than she was properly prepared for despite having seen the carnage outside. The slime, she mused darkly, made the gruesome scene worse with the implications behind it, contaminating the remains of the victims and denying them what little dignity they had left in death. The ornate symbol of Desna resting in the wreckage of what must have been Garus. Even Maritine's stoic facade flickers at the sight - Whoever and whatever Garus had been, there should have been more left to give the man his due. Saying nothing while Kolthus takes the exquisite pendandt and the group gives quick but sincere prayers to the gods, Maritine takes a moment and perhaps foolishly pulls an empty vial from deep within her coat and takes a small sample of the gunk all around them, teeth grit as her stomach flip-flops and threatens to empty itself. She hurriedly stuffs the vial to the bottom of one of her deeper pockets and moves quickly into the next room.

The library gives Maritine a disturbing sense of deja vu - she's seen many of the books in Lepidstadt's library; hells below she'd read some of them for research. Knowing what was in a good number of the books sent a wave of panic through her and she took a moment to take deep breaths, willing to risk vomiting before panicking. Retching could easily be blamed on the smell.

"This is... this kind of material. The university restricts most - maybe all - such tomes. This knowledge is dangerous. You might get to incinerate something yet, Walter." She isn't sure if she sounds like she's making a joke or wanting to correct a terrible mistake. Perhaps she'll come back and burn the library herself.

It's the blackness of the stairs down that finally induce vertigo. The stench, the books and their terrible secrets, the unfathomably black darkness that will drag them into its depths and swallow them before dissolving them into nothing and and and

Hhlrgl

She coughs and spits and takes a heaving breathe and wobbles, spits again and forces herself to stand tall. She is many things, but a coward is not one of them. Galvanized as much by her companions as she is to prove herself she pulls out an everburning torch and draws her rapier, her face set with grim zealousness as she watches Mihaela vanish into the darkness. Her decision to follow her friend is almost immediate.

"Whatever the hell is down there, she should not face it alone. It slinks out the darkness to bring terror and death and deserves no mercy save blade and torch, and we shall deliver." And with terrible purpose she follows Mihaela down into the dark.

Perception: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (2) + 10 = 12


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1

"A room. No immediate threat. Well, then." Walter grits his teeth, begins to pick his way carefully down the steps after Martine, flaming staff held high.

Knowledge (Engineering)1d20 + 11 ⇒ (17) + 11 = 28

He murmurs softly into the Message spell, The stairwell after the turn was once blocked solid with debris and loose rock. Cleared only recently. Then, older stonework. This is Taldan, around three hundred years old. He pauses to breathe -- the air is a bit less foul down here -- and listen. Then, The books upstairs suggest that someone had some clever idea. And they dug down into their new basement and decided to... experiment, down there.

"Fools," Walter says, not realizing that he is speaking out loud. "Stupid, stupid... fools!"


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1

Walter has now reached the bottom of the stairs, meaning that he, Martine, and (invisible) Mihaela are now in the downstairs room. Walter is in the SW corner, peering nearsightedly at the late occupant of the sarcophagus (though without touching anything).

Perception 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (17) + 1 = 18

I suspect I just wasted a nat 20. Still, if there's anything to be found, I guess maybe I find it?


Female Half-elf {conditions: none} Inquisitor 5 | HP 28/28 | AC 22 (Tch 16 FF 16) | F +5 R +8 W +9 (+2 vs. ench.) | Init +10 | Perc +12, low-light vision, scent (vs. aberr.)

A muffled sigh is the only thing Walter hears in response of his explanation. They dug too greedily... into the earth, and before that, into things they were not meant to understand...

Mihaela sneaks a peek into the eastern cul-de-sac, blocked by the collapsed debris.

Perception (guidance): 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (11) + 13 = 24

Should she find nothing of notice, she heaves a deep breath and ever so cautiously ventures into the darkness below, following the creature's trail back to where it spawned.


Female Human Psychic (Esoteric Starseeker) 5 | HP 27/27 | AC: 18 (T: 11, FF: 17) | Saves: F:+7, R:+5, W:+9 (+2 vs fear effects) | Init: +6 | Perc. +10
More Info:
BAB: +2, CMB: 1, CMD: +12 | Spells: (1st) 4/8, (2nd) 6/6 | Active Conditions: Heightened Awareness: +2 to Perception/Knowledge checks

Yelena softly walks into the room, peering at the sarcophagi. What kind of people are buried here?

Perception, HA: 1d20 + 10 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 10 + 2 = 16

She also doesn't disturb the sarcophagi. If whatever lies within is content to sleep, she has no intention of waking it.

Passing through the room, Yelena pauses at the head of the second set of stairs. Following Mihaela too close would undo the benefit of scouting, but she doesn't want to risk the other woman getting so far ahead that they couldn't help her if she were discovered.

"Fools indeed," she murmurs. "Some dreams are better left unsought."


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1

Wait, everyone, Walter murmurs. There's yet a door. Walter walks over to the door and looks at it, but does not touch or open it. Master Kolthis, could you join me over here?

Handle, latch, knob? Does it appear to be lockable?


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 10:00 p.m.

It is a simple door, recessed and standing in shadow, without lock or latch, the hinges hidden on the far side.

Given the group's perception rolls as they entered the chamber...

Careful examination reveals, however, that all is silent beyond, and that it is barred from within.


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 10:00 p.m.

Walter:
Even as you examine the door, something that's been tugging at your mind finally steps into view: you turn and consider the pattern of debris and rubble that was cleared out of the stairwell leading up, and... you're sure, suddenly, that it was cleared from below.


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1

Everyone, hold a moment. Walter pinches the bridge of his nose. I just realized... the pattern of debris... He sighs softly. (Sighing too hard into a Message spell is like sighing hard into someone's ear. It's weirdly distracting.) The door was cleared... from below. And here we have a door that is barred from the other side.

Walter's mind is racing. Ghouls? This is ideal ghoul habitat. But ghouls would have raided the sarcophagi, scattering gnawed bone fragments in an ecstasy of loathsome feasting. The derro? The blue-skinned fey are mad enough, but they're usually... subtler... than this sort of mass carnage. Something from the deep Underdark? And things have learnt to walk, that ought to crawl, Walter thinks grimly to himself.


Female Human Gunslinger (Bolt Ace) 5 | HP:43/43 | Grit 4/4 |
Stats:
|AC 21, Touch 17, FlatFoot 14, CMD 21 | Fort +7, Ref +12, Will +5| Init +8 | Perception +13

Shuffling down alongside the others, Lys leans on the wall, spotting the sarcophagi. "Oh? Whose sarcophagi are those?", she murmurs as Walter reveals the origins of the walls, glancing at any writings on the wall. Taldan... We knew the cult was ancient, but... seeing it is shocking. before chills run down her spine with relation to the origin of the debris. "So... something was here beforehand? Something woke it up? A ritual somewhere else?", she quizzes, her eyes starting to follow the slime and ooze on the wall. When in doubt.

Reaching into her coat, she pulls out a stack of bolts, the tips coated together in stiff pine resin. Placing them in her crossbow, she shrugs. "Not one to usually trust bones to stay idle for long.", she says, leaning heavily on a sarcophagus. Spotting the others acting nervously around the door, she frowns. "I'd open that. I'd rather us have an escape route now, than run from something else down the corridor and have a surprise waiting for us here." Raising the crossbow at the door, she squints her eye over the sights.

Rolls/OoC:

Survival to track whether the thing came up the stairs or from that door.: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (7) + 11 = 18
@GM - switching to blunt bolts. Also, readying an action here, but I'll trust you to let me know to roll that if/when tactically breaching a door is possible and I can have a readied action.


Female Half-elf {conditions: none} Inquisitor 5 | HP 28/28 | AC 22 (Tch 16 FF 16) | F +5 R +8 W +9 (+2 vs. ench.) | Init +10 | Perc +12, low-light vision, scent (vs. aberr.)

"Place is claustrophobic enough without the prospect of being ambushed from behind. I'll scout a bit further — if there's no immediate threat, I say we investigate that door first."

Step after step, Mihaela descends, alone into the darkness, until she can no longer hear her companions' voices. If she hasn't found anything by that time, she greenlights Operation "Let's Open That Door, Shall We?" and falls back to where everybody else is.


Female Human Lepidstadt Inspector 5 | Initiative +3 | Perception +10 | Fort +3 Ref +8 Will +7 | HP 45 AC 18

Maritine eyes the sarcophagi carefully as her eyes adjusted to the dim flickering of her torch and wonders if perhaps a preemptive burning might be a little too much paranoia to indulge while hunting an invisible something. Duty to the town first, then plausibly deniable arson.

Taldans. Of course. She makes a mental note to herself that, should they all live, to see what esoteric knowledge she could get from Walter, and if the cost would be one worth paying. She remains quiet as she takes in more of the ruins while Mihaela scouts ahead, listening to Walter and keeping a close eye on her companions, mildly envious of their ability to see in the darkness, shaking her head with agreement as Walter spits about fools and what rituals they must have done down here, clearly violating the one rule all cults seem to forget - 'Do not call up which you cannot put down'

The knowledge that the door the other had found had been cleared from below properly catches her attention and she carefully approaches, the shadows flickering in the torchlight revealing little apart from scattered detritus. "I agree, whatever's in there, it cannot stand against all of us."


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M CG Dwarf Fighter 2/Cleric of Desna 3 | HP: 50/50 | AC: 19, T: 12, FF: 17) | CMB: +9, CMD: 21 | F: +9, R: +4, W: +6 (+1 against Fear Effects) | Init: +7 | Darkvision 60ft, Perc: +10, SM: +6 | Speed 30ft | Spells: 1st 3/4 2nd 3/3 | Active conditions: None

Looking around the hallway, Kolthis was reminded of the many mausoleums he had visited in his time. Locked doors, ancient writing, sarcophagi - always the same, even leagues apart. But the ooze, the Taldan writing, the pattern of debris - meant this was much more sinister than anything before.

"Possible undead, a blocked exit, and nothing but imminent danger ahead. Just like old times eh Lys, Walter? Good thing I'm a priest now."

Heading up to the rubble blocked door, Kolthis examined it, giving the area a good look, perhaps for some weakness in the door. The rest of them made a good point. It was always better to know something was clear or not than leave it up to chance. Even with Lady Luck on your side, there were times your consequences were in your own hands. "Busting down the door, it is."

Putting Lucy away in favor of his axe, Kolthis took a deep breath, steadying himself for the other side. "To whatever's on the other side - Here's Kolthis!"

Going to put a few attack/damage rolls here, in case it takes more than one, would rather not get bogged down with individual posts.

Dice Rolls:

Attack Roll: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (14) + 8 = 22
Damage: 1d10 + 10 ⇒ (1) + 10 = 11

Attack: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (6) + 8 = 14
Damage: 1d10 + 10 ⇒ (4) + 10 = 14

Attack: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (8) + 8 = 16
Damage: 1d10 + 10 ⇒ (4) + 10 = 14

Attack: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (5) + 8 = 13
Damage: 1d10 + 10 ⇒ (4) + 10 = 14

My goodness, that is a lot of rolls under 10...


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 10:00 p.m.

Mihaela Stealth: 1d20 + 14 + 20 ⇒ (16) + 14 + 20 = 50

Mihaela descends the stairs alone. Down she goes, down the dozen steps to the turn, and there she pauses to look to her right, down yet another flight of stairs.

Even given the age of the ruins into which she has descended, she can tell that this flight is much, much older. The steps are worn near to a smooth ramp in their center, with only the corners rising like the edges of a yellowed page. How many hundreds of years worth of passage it would have taken to erode rock in such manner is near impossible to guess.

Down she goes, faltering and cautious, to the farthest that she can make out to the border of the dim light. She quickly leaves behind the Taldan style of archways and brick for something new, looking to be made of larger, granite blocks whose surfaces are carved with a simple if mesmerizing pattern.

The stairs go down, and down, and down, into the eternal dark. The echoes are strange.

And peering down that dark gullet, that narrow, steep shaft into the unknown, down into what must be the rotten heart of Carrion Hill - Mihaela is seized with the conviction that something is staring right back at her from below, some gimlet-eyed monstrosity is stirring in the fetid darkness, aware of her, blinking, rousing itself -

But there is only silence and the sound of her harsh breathing.

Inevitably she turns back, tearing her gaze away from that bottomless dark, turning her back uneasily to that sunless depth, and rejoins her companions in the Taldan tomb.

(Two minutes of invisibility used.)

Meanwhile, Lys and Maritine eye the sarcophogi with distinct unease as they walk past them, their boots causing the dried black slime to crackle underfoot. Over each sarcophagus they see the ancient symbol of Aroden, and little else - some manner of ascetic minimalism was the governing aesthetic of the time, it seems, for there are few distinguishing marks.

Kolthis steps up to the door, ax in hand, and with a cry of warning or defiance steps in and sinks the ax blade deep into the door. The wood splinters, dessicated and easily shattered. Two, three blows, and he sees a pile of rubble that has been piled against the door's far side. Heaving and shoving, Kolthis makes short work of the portal, scattering the rubble so that he's able to shove open the remnants of the door and reveal what lies beyond.

Which is... a modest chamber (A7), constructed in the same Taldan style of archways and brick. Dusty, the alcoves draped in ancient spider webbing, there is little more to note here than a second door in the far corner. Stepping over the rubble that's piled by the first door, Kolthis also sees recently used camping equipment set in one corner: bed rolls, mining equipment, and the charred remains of a modest fire.

Further investigation turns up little of interest amidst the camping gear - no sign of whom the owners might have been, other than there having been five in number. Tag?

When the group is ready, Kolthis moves to the next door, and finds it to be the same as the last. Bringing his ax to bear, he hacks it apart, finding once more the same pile of rubble behind it, which he disperses with hearty kicks and shoves with the head of the ax.

Standing in the doorway, he peers inside.

Mounds of rubble line the walls of this partially collapsed chamber, but here and there patches of brickwork are visible on the floor and walls. One rounded alcove remains in the northern wall, though it lacks a sarcophagus.

DM Rolls:
[/dice]
Stealth: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (3) + 12 = 15
Stealth: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (8) + 12 = 20
Stealth: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (11) + 12 = 23

Perception DC 15:
Peering into the room, you see a small figure hidden amongst the fallen rocks and rubble. Filthy, reeking black rags wrap this small humanoid from head to toe, leaving only its hands and pale white nose visible. It is utterly motionless, eerily so, like a spider frozen in the center of its web, though its whole body radiates tension.

Perception DC 20:
A second similar figure is wedged in tight into a crack deep in the wall.

Perception DC 23:
A third is crouched behind a fallen block, barely visible at all.


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1
DM Lament Configuration wrote:

And peering down that dark gullet, that narrow, steep shaft into the unknown, down into what must be the rotten heart of Carrion Hill - Mihaela is seized with the conviction that something is staring right back at her from below, some gimlet-eyed monstrosity is stirring in the fetid darkness, aware of her, blinking, rousing itself -

But there is only silence and the sound of her harsh breathing.

Inevitably she turns back, tearing her gaze away from that bottomless dark, turning her back uneasily to that sunless depth, and rejoins her companions in the Taldan tomb.

Walter is 10' down the stairs, lantern staff held high and burning, waiting for her.

The others have found two rooms, though they seem to be a dead end. Perhaps we should wait here, to guard their backs and make sure nothing comes up these stairs unnoticed. Walter doesn't think in terms of "wandering monsters" as such, but this is obviously an active area, where... things... have been coming and going.

The wizard clears his throat (that /smell/, it's less bad but still terrible), then murmurs a message to the party members in the second room Is there anything of interest there? Do you need our assistance?


Female Human Gunslinger (Bolt Ace) 5 | HP:43/43 | Grit 4/4 |
Stats:
|AC 21, Touch 17, FlatFoot 14, CMD 21 | Fort +7, Ref +12, Will +5| Init +8 | Perception +13

Imagining based on description, Kolthis' at the second doorway.

Lys' smile shines in the torchlight at the dwarf's joyous exclaimation. "Anyone still keeping a tally, or do we start again? I mean, you were in dire need of divine assistance last time...", she chuckles at Kolthis, before shaking her finger theatrically. "Doors don't count, right, Walter?", she hisses, moving to stand behind the dwarf as the door is hacked down, opening the rubble-filled room to their gaze. As the fickle, faint rays of light glimmer in the room, Lys' hand lands on Kolthis' shoulder. "Foes. Three. First in the rubble. Second in wall crack. Third behind block.", she hisses. Tilting her head at the others, her lips move quietly on the wings of Walter's spell. "Best get here. White, small, pale, grimy.", she mutters, her lips moving voicelessly as she struggles to remember anything of her foes from the manuscript in her bag. Ugly, subterranean and cunning just about covers three-quarters...

Rolls/OoC:

Perception: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (16) + 11 = 27
Knowledge(religion): 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (19) + 11 = 30 Daaaaamn, that's a roll. Prepare for misses in combat!


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 10:00 p.m.

Lys:
You recognize the three creatures immediately: dark creepers. Dark creepers lurk in the black places deep below the surface of the world, venturing forth at night or into neighboring societies when the urge to steal and cause mayhem grows too great to resist. Endless layers of filthy, moldering black cloth shroud these small creatures, leading some to believe that the creature inside is smaller still. Usually encountered in groups, dark creepers flee from bright light, but are quite brave in the dark.

Dark creepers stand just under 4 feet tall and weigh 80 pounds. Their flesh is pale and moist, and their eyes are milky white. Dark creepers exude a foul stench of sweat and spoiled food, owing primarily to the fact that they never take off their clothing—instead piling on new layers when the outermost one grows too ragged.

Fond of using poison and infamous for combusting upon death, they're very sensitive to light and can see even in magical darkness. For all that they delight in causing chaos, they're no intrinsically evil, but rather simply guided by their own proclivities, and sometimes hired by those venturing into the depths.

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