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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Female Half-elf {conditions: none} Inquisitor 5 | HP 28/28 | AC 24 (Tch 18 FF 18) | F +5 R +8 W +9 (+2 vs. ench.) | Init +10 | Perc +12, low-light vision, scent (vs. aberr.)

Mihaela pushes as far as her keen elven senses allow her, and then a little bit further, but once complete and utter darkness voraciously engulfs her, she has no choice but to backtrack.

"It's nothing but darkness here. Even the masonry seems more... primeval. It's as if..." a long pause, then Walter hears another whisper. "I can feel its hunger" another pause. "I'm coming back" she eventually concedes, dejectedly.

Moving at a quicker pace, she follows her companions' voices back to the hall — and to the familiar embrace of light, however dim. There, she finds Walter waiting for her at the top of the stairs.

"Nothing should come up those stairs in the next few minutes — both visible and invisible" Mihaela still had see invisibility on while scouting says a disembodied voice, yet both clearer and nearer than before. "The... thing... we're stalking. It's an unnatural creature, a misshapen offense at the order of the cosmos read: aberration. I can still smell its stench — but it's gone. It went up the stairs and then disappeared into thin air."

That said, she quickly makes her way to where the others have gathered. "Once the door is down, let me be the first to enter" she once again offers, invisibly slipping past the broken down doors as soon as Kolthis's work is done.

Perception (guidance): 1d20 + 12 + 1 ⇒ (8) + 12 + 1 = 21

If there's time for that, Mihaela would use a standard action to cast detect evil (spell-like ability, so no verbal or somatic components) on the two creatures she spotted as well as a move action to activate studied target. If combat is immediately triggered, she would immediately come out of invisibility and try to sneak attack the closest enemy she spotted during the surprise round.


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Female Human Psychic (Esoteric Starseeker) 5 | HP 22/27 | 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) 3/8, (2nd) 3/6, (Bonus) 1/0 | Phrenic Pool 4/4 | Active Conditions: None

Yelena wraps her arms around herself as Kolthis breaks down the doors. It's necessary, of course, they can't leave a possible threat behind them, but it's so loud.

If anything remains in these tunnels, they know we're here. Mihaela hadn't seen anything as she scouted down the stairs, but she hadn't been able to go too far. Something could have been further down, hiding in the dark.

Is it paranoia if something is really out to get you?

She steps into the first room once it's been declared clear, and looks around while Kolthis demolishes the second door. Five bedrolls, a campfire...this was a base of operations. Which made sense, combined with Walter's earlier observation about the debris being cleared from below.

"These people, whoever they were, must have come from some other entrance." She idly crouches down next to the remains of the campfire, picking up a charred log and turning it over in her hands. "And used this as their base of operations while they broke into the house upstairs."

But why? If there was another entrance, or exit...why clear out this particular path? She'd assumed the house above belonged to a member of the cult, given the scope of the books. Maybe the other entrance was inconvenient, and they were hoping to create an easier route? Which in turn implied that whatever was down that long staircase, they had planned to go there frequently.

Speculation. Conjecture. But without evidence, it's all she has.

She looks up with alarm at Lys' hissed warning and quickly stands up again. For the moment she doesn't cast any spells.

Well, it's not like they don't know we're here. Might as well try to talk to them.

"We've come to investigate the creature that broke out from below." She steps closer, just behind Kolthis at the door. "Are you hiding from it? Is that why you barricaded yourselves in here?"

Diplomacy: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (11) + 4 = 15


M CG Dwarf Fighter 2/Cleric of Desna 3 | HP: 45/50 | AC: 21, T: 12, FF: 17) | CMB: +9, CMD: 21 | F: +10, R: +5, W: +7 (+1 against Fear Effects) | Init: +7 | Darkvision 60ft, Perc: +10, SM: +6 | Speed 30ft | Spells: 1st 1/4 2nd 2/3 | Active conditions: None

Stepping in through the first door, Kolthis saw only more rubble and abandoned mining equipment. Who would want to delve this area, with a city already situated above? It didn’t make much sense, but then again, it was his cousin Baelor that was the miner, and not him. More than likely, this gear was abandoned with the arrival of what they were chasing. Maybe the people had been part of the summoning. Whatever the reason, these were still signs of life, and experience showed that it was better to be wary of the possibility of danger around than assume it was gone.

With that in mind, Kolthis broke through the second door into another rubble filled chamber, albeit smaller. A moment later, he felt Lys’ hand as she relayed her warning. Looking again through the room, he only saw the first one that she mentioned, unrecognizable to him as anything more than filth it wore. As her lookout had proven to be quite useful in the past, Kolthis trusted her.

It seemed that these creatures were waiting to see if they were noticed, likely to attack as soon as they put their guard down, or walked further into the room. As nonchalantly as possible, Kolthis put away his axe. It had done a good job with those doors, and the destruction was surprisingly cathartic. He realized he hadn’t given it a name yet. He would have think on that, but later. In replacement, he drew Lucy. ”Now, that’s much better, eh Lys?” he said, feigning the need of light to see in the dark.

Nothing Mihaela's words but not making any move to indicate he heard her lest he give away her position, Kolthis left room in the doorway entrance for the invisible elf. He made a show of scanning the room, before turning back to Lys, continuing his charade. ”I think it’s only right we start again - new adventure, and all that. Although you may not do nearly as well this time, speaking of divine assistance.” He winks at her and holds up his pendant of Desna in emphasis. Under his breath he mutters ”Fortuna domine, guide hodie in manu mea.” preparing for the very real possibility of a fight if Yelena's words did nothing to assuage the creatures.

Rolls/OoC:

Perception: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (5) + 10 = 15
Knowledge (Religion): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (2) + 5 = 7
Knowledge (Dungeoneering): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (10) + 4 = 14

If there is time before combat, Kolthis would like to take actions in this order: Stowing his axe, unsheathing the Lucerne Hammer, and then casting Divine Favor on himself.

Also, if you’d like it, I can make a stealth/perform check for the feigning of not noticing and all. Probably won’t go too well, considering how it has usually ended up in the past, but better than triggering combat immediately before preparation, maybe. Despite everything that has happened, Kolthis is still a deep adventurer at heart, and the opportunity for some drama and combat is too much to pass up, particularly when all else seems so dark.

Stealth, untrained: 1d20 - 5 ⇒ (10) - 5 = 5
Performance, untrained: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (19) - 1 = 18

If combat does start, Kolthis has Combat Reflexes, so he will be able to take up to 2 attacks of opportunity in a round. Lucerne Hammer also has reach, so from the position in front of the door, he can cover movement into much of the room from the creepers.

With the Fate's Favored Trait, he gets a +2 to attack and damage with Divine Favor, instead of just +1, which I think is pretty thematic considering Desna is his goddess and all.

Here are some AoO's, if they are applicable. My stats assume Power Attacking, unless noted otherwise.

AoO 1: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (13) + 10 = 23
AoO 1 damage: 1d12 + 11 ⇒ (5) + 11 = 16
Add 2 to hit and damage if Divine Favor is applicable.

AoO 2: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (9) + 10 = 19
AoO 2: 1d12 + 11 ⇒ (3) + 11 = 14
Add 2 to hit and damage if Divine Favor is applicable.


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

Mihaela slips into the room, breezing past Kolthis and Lys, who remain frozen in the doorway, staring at the slender humanoids in their filthy garments.

It's eerie. As Kolthis draws Lucy and casts warm illumination into the room, banishing the shadows, the creepers sink back further into their crevices and hiding places, shrinking back from the like in a manner that's almost insectile.

They don't otherwise move, however, and are little more than dark sooty shadows, unnaturally still, like hunting spiders espied in a crack as it waits for prey.

Still, the moment stretches out, Lys' words hanging in the air, and then one of them - it's hard to tell which, given that their faces are completely covered - speaks.

"Δεν επιθυμούμε προβλήματα. Θέλουμε να μείνουμε μόνοι μας. Το μεγάλο πεινασμένο σκοτάδι είναι χωρίς. Επιστρέψτε σε αυτό ώστε να μην πεθάνουμε."

None of you understand the language.


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

Knowledge (Dungeoneering) 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (9) + 14 = 23 Do I recognize what sort of creatures these might be?

Linguistics 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (19) + 10 = 29 Do I recognize the language (even if I don't speak it)?


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

Mihaela:
The creatures do not detect as evil.

Walter:
The language is Dark Folk.

Perception: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (12) + 1 = 13

However, you don't manage to spot any of them, and thus can't be sure what you're looking at. With that knowledge check, though, you know you're probably dealing with either dark creepers or dark stalkers. 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 stalkers, on the other hand, are the undisputed leaders of dark folk society. Deep underground, these creatures dwell in strange villages (some rumors suggest entire cities) built of stone and fungus in remote caverns where they are served and worshiped by their coarser, diminutive kin, the dark creepers. Dark stalkers come to the surface rarely, but when they do it is on a mission, and with a force of creatures such that it never ends well for those they seek to rob or torment.


Female Human Psychic (Esoteric Starseeker) 5 | HP 22/27 | 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) 3/8, (2nd) 3/6, (Bonus) 1/0 | Phrenic Pool 4/4 | Active Conditions: None

Yelena frowns at the language, not recognizing it. But she's traveled to a lot of places, and while she knows a lot of languages, she also knows it's impossible to understand them all.

Which is why she keeps a handy scroll around, replacing it whenever it's used.

She briefly steps out of sight of the creatures, not wanting to risk them seeing her cast a spell and thinking it's an attack. It's the work of a second to pull out her scroll of Comprehend Languages, and only a few seconds more to cast it. Then she returns to the doorway. This time she steps inside, moving slowly and keeping her hands clearly visible, again so they don't think she's trying to attack them.

Of course, comprehending isn't the same as speaking. But in her experience, limited concepts can be conveyed by gesture and tone. She'll know if they misunderstand her.

Speaking slowly, (not that it will help), and trying to exaggerate her motions, she points at the creatures, then to her ears. "I can understand you now. Please say that again."

OOC:
Let me know if there's a skill you want me to roll. Basically my plan is to use charades to try and get our meaning across. Hopefully simple gestures like shaking or nodding your head are relatively universal...


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

Damn! Eight languages and not a word of Undercommon.

"Hold! Hold." Walter speaks out loud, then murmurs into the Message. Dark creepers or dark stalkers. Underdark creatures. Perhaps they are part of this, perhaps not. I suggest a parley.

Walter frowns. He knows about these creatures in general terms, but not as much as he'd like right now. He has the impression that they're thieves and scavengers. Dangerous in groups or in the dark, feared and disliked, but... cultists of the Great Old Ones? Unclear.

Dark folk weren't reading those books upstairs, in a well-lit room above ground. They might be part of this anyway... but some purely human stupidity is at work here, I'm sure of it.

Walter has first-hand experience of humans being stupid about the Great Old Ones. It bends his judgment, perhaps.


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

Again one of them speaks, their tone unvarying, their bodies locked in place, betraying nothing of understandable emotion. Scratchy and angular, the words remain nonsensical to the others, like flints being dragged across each other.

"Δεν επιθυμούμε προβλήματα. Θέλουμε να μείνουμε μόνοι μας. Το μεγάλο πεινασμένο σκοτάδι είναι χωρίς."

But to Yelena::
"Leave us be. We wish not discordance, for stone to fracture along the lines of fault. The ravening darkness is without. In silence we shall avoid it. Leave us be."


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

Huh. Didn't think religion would cover that roll, but I'll take it.

Kolthis:

Gods. What gods do you follow, Lys, and which ones watch over you? Mortality is inevitable for the mortals. A stray thought appears in Lys' head, as she shakes her head. "Now, if I wasn't grossly overconfident, I'd be tempted to call having the gods on your side as cheating.", she teases as the dwarf makes quick work of the door.

As Yelena speaks to the Dark Folk, Lys' eyes are straining to make them out in the darkness even as they speak. Finger near the crossbow's trigger, she leans back tensely. Talking. I hope it goes better than it does when I do it., she thinks to herself as Yelena gesticulates wildly at the dark folk, her feet jitteringly tapping on the ground. "What are they saying?", she hisses nervously as the answer from the creatures from the dark rings in the room, but no attack follows.


Female Human Psychic (Esoteric Starseeker) 5 | HP 22/27 | 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) 3/8, (2nd) 3/6, (Bonus) 1/0 | Phrenic Pool 4/4 | Active Conditions: None

"They say they don't want trouble. They just want to be left alone, so they can avoid the 'ravening darkness.'" Yelena translates for the rest of the group. "I'm going to see what information I can get out of them, but it's hard when I can't actually speak their language."

Now, how to ask for more information...

First, she grabs one of the bedrolls from the other room, holding it out to the creatures then pointing at it with an exaggeratedly confused expression. "Who was staying here?"

Then she goes up to the deepest shadow not currently occupied by a creature. She pulls out her dagger and slashes at the darkness several times, then turns and points from the creatures to the shadow. "We hunt the darkness. What can you tell us about it?"

OOC:
I'm putting both these 'questions' in one spot so as to not slow things down, but Yelena would wait for a response to one question before asking another so as not to risk confusing them.


Female Half-elf {conditions: none} Inquisitor 5 | HP 28/28 | AC 24 (Tch 18 FF 18) | F +5 R +8 W +9 (+2 vs. ench.) | Init +10 | Perc +12, low-light vision, scent (vs. aberr.)

Mihaela neither speaks nor makes any noise, fearful that incorporeal sounds would spook the creatures even further. Instead, she simply stands motionless, starknife in hand, poised to strike at the first sign of the parley going awry while praying to the Dark Butterfly she won't have to.


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

Going to use diplomacy to cover Mihaela's attempt at charades.

Yelena Diplomacy: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (10) + 7 = 17

The Varisian can feel their eyes on her as she moves about, the tension in the room ratcheting up even as they remain immobile. It's as if the potential for explosive violence is increasing, and some sixth sense of hers is keying her in.

In the end, however, none of them stir; they remain eerily immobile, as if they were in truth little more than the corporeal remains that have been stashed in cracks and crevices, and not living creatures in truth.

Mihaela brandishes the bedroll.

"Ο χώρος ανάπαυσης; Από τότε έχουν περάσει πολλές ώρες, οι πέντε που μας προσλήφθηκαν, οι περιπλανώμενοι σκοτεινιάδες. Έχουν υπάρξει, και είναι, η νέα τους φωλιά, το φυλάκισμά τους στον κόσμο που ξυπνά. Πέντε υπήρχαν, αλλά όχι πια. Το σκοτεινό σκοτάδι ήρθε από κάτω, και όλα ήταν κραυγές. Αν και δεν τους βλέπουμε, αισθανθήκαμε ότι τα αστέρια πέφτουν στους ουρανούς, άκουσαν τη γη σε κίνδυνο. Πέντε υπήρχαν, αλλά το αίμα ρέει και όλοι πήγαιναν στα σκατά.

Mihaela:
"The resting place? Long hours have passed since any slept there, the five who hired us, the wandering motes of dark. Five there were, and they paid us gold to guard the descent from above, their new nest, their outpost in the waking world. Five there were, but five no longer. The ravening darkness came from below, and all was screams. Though we do not see them, we felt the stars fall in the heavens, heard the very earth moan in distress. Five there were, but blood flowed, and all has gone to s@*!."

Mihaela then moves cautiously into a dark corner and slashes at it.

"Κυνήγετε το σκοτάδι; Θέλετε να κυνηγήσετε το σκοτάδι; Δεν θα το κάνουμε. Μένουμε εδώ. Το σκοτάδι καταναλώνει όλα. Το σκοτάδι δεν είναι βάθος. Για να αντιμετωπίσει αυτό είναι να χάσει την ψυχή κάποιου. Το σκοτάδι καμαρώνει και όπου πηγαίνει, όλη η ελπίδα θα πεθάνει, οι ψυχές θα ξαναβρεθούν, και η νύχτα θα πέσει κάτω από τις ρωγμές ανάμεσα στα αστέρια.

Mihaela:
"You hunt the darkness? You want us to hunt the darkness? We will not. We stay here. The darkness consumes all. The darkness is without depth. To face it is to lose one's soul. The darkness ravens, and where it goes, all hope will die, souls will be reaved, and the night will pour down through the cracks between the stars."


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

Perception: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (9) + 10 = 19
Using a point of Inspiration to add 1d6 ⇒ 2 to the result. Total of 21.

As soon as Kolthis breaches the doors and braves the darkness Maritine is right on his heels, eyes as well-adjusted as they're going to be in the inky blackness and spying two strangely robed figures hiding within the dark. Internally startled she shifts into a dueling stance and points the tip of her rapier at the closest figure, ready to react but not attacking, waiting for threatening movement.

Dark Folk. Her suspicions confirmed by the others she very slowly lowers her sword, the strange beings seemingly locked in place as they speak but do not move. Perhaps they too are cursed?

Ravening Darkness. That certainly sounded like what they were (perhaps foolishly) chasing. She doesn't sheath her blade but lowers it so that the point rests against her boots. With Yelena as a go-between and the Dark Folk simply wanting to be left alone, a fight seemed unlikely. She let her mind wander a little as she wracked her brain on the specifics of their words - ravening darkness. An apt description, if nothing else.

Knowledge Rolls:
Knowledge Planes: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (1) + 9 = 10
Knowledge Religion: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (9) + 9 = 18
Knowledge Dungeoneering: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (8) + 9 = 17


Female Human Psychic (Esoteric Starseeker) 5 | HP 22/27 | 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) 3/8, (2nd) 3/6, (Bonus) 1/0 | Phrenic Pool 4/4 | Active Conditions: None

Yelena nods, reasonably satisfied with the amount of information uncovered. She doesn't miss the rising tension however, nor does she wish to add to it.

"Unless anyone has other questions that could potentially be asked via gesture, I think I've gotten as far as I can. Let's talk more outside." She bows to the creatures, hoping the gesture will be understood as one of gratitude for their assistance. "Thank you. We'll leave you alone now."

Back in the main room, she eyes the stairs with unconcealed dread, refusing to take her eyes off them even while she explains what she's learned.

"The Dark Folk were hired by five people to guard that area. Their employers had broken through into the house, and wanted to make sure nothing else could come up through the path they'd created." She shakes her head and mutters, seemingly to herself, "That much foresight, yet not enough to see the danger they were courting."

"The 'ravening darkness' came from below. The Dark Folk weren't there when it was summoned, but they heard screaming and seem convinced that their former employers are dead. They weren't very specific about what the ravening darkness was, but it terrifies them. They said, 'To face it is to lose one's soul. The darkness ravens, and where it goes, all hope will die, souls will be reaved, and the night will pour down through the cracks between the stars.'"

She shivers, drawing her cloak closer around herself. If the Dark Folks' description was anywhere near the truth...what chance did they have? All hope will die...

No. Not all hope. We were sent here for a reason. We are the hope. I have to believe that.

"So. That confirms a lot of our theories. The creature was indeed summoned, by a group of five cultists who are now presumably dead. And those stairs lead to the place where the summoning occurred." She forces herself to stand up straighter, trying to look more confident than she feels. "If we're lucky, perhaps there's information down there that will explain how the creature was summoned. If we're very lucky, there might even be information on how to unsummon it. Either way, it's the best clue we have."

OOC:
Rolling for K. Planes here to see if the vague, poetic description Yelena heard is ringing any bells.

K. Planes, HA: 1d20 + 13 + 2 ⇒ (17) + 13 + 2 = 32


Female Half-elf {conditions: none} Inquisitor 5 | HP 28/28 | AC 24 (Tch 18 FF 18) | F +5 R +8 W +9 (+2 vs. ench.) | Init +10 | Perc +12, low-light vision, scent (vs. aberr.)

As Yelena leaves the room, Mihaela follows, still keeping an eye on the figures yet all in all, glad that everything worked out peacefully.

"Then we shall be the seal against the cataracts" she states gravely. "Alas, I can no longer be your eyes. The darkness below is too thick to be pierced, by man or elf alike."


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

Maritime exits with the others, satisfied that bloodshed had at least been avoided but dissapointed that they still had little in the way of answers. If circumstances were different...

No. There wasn't time for that.

Nodding in agreement with both Yelena and Mihaela, she listens to Mihaela's lament and glances at her torch. "Mayhaps by man or elf, but what of fire? I can make plenty, should we need more."


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

Yelena:
Alas, your mind ranges over far too many instances of such language being used for far too many horrors - that it speaks of something from the Dark Tapestry you're sure, but nothing specific, nothing singular comes to mind. Your mind strays, treading down dark paths amongst old memories, things heard, things read, things divined amongst the heavens... but no one culprit comes to mind.

Having cleared those two rooms and shared what information could be gleaned from the dark creepers, the group prepares to head down the final staircase.

To keep things moving, in this instance, I'll assume whatever marching order you desire is put into effect, with magical light used to illuminate the descent.

Down you go. The narrow stairwell could be a sojourn into Carrion Hill's history. Down you go, down that narrow stair, which like a stab wound goes steeply into the heart of the hill, through its many layers, past one architectural layer after another. Almost you can read the city's sordid past in layers of ash, in bands of basalt carved with geometric patterns, in the pale marble that's so close to bone, the seams of dirt where perhaps the city was abandoned for decades, and older layers, older levels, compressed, distorted by the weight of history that bears down upon them, down, down, down...

Your breath echoes. It's hard to not turn around sharply every so often, especially for the one who comes last. The party member in the front has to fight becoming mesmerized by the endless repetition of steps, each worn nearly to ramp-like smoothness by the passage of centuries, the wear of endless boots and feet...

Swathes of dried black slime cake the steps, crackling underfoot. Water drips down the walls. The mineral tang of earth and wet rock fills the air, along with something older, some subtle scent of rot and foulness that lies even behind the fading odor of the slime...

Five hundred steps. Six hundred. Some of you count, some don't, some lose the thread of numbers. But for those who keep a sharp focus, it's not until you reach something in the vicinity of eight hundred steps that you finally see crude, massively heavy menhirs framing an archway at the bottom. The stairwell is now little more than carved stone and natural rock. Ancient. Primordial.

And beyond, beyond that ancient lintel and its twin stone posts, you see stone pillars rising up within the darkness, like ancient memories surfacing in a bad dream, supporting a stone ceiling.

Thick sheets of pale fungus and mold cake most surfaces. To the south, the hall has collapsed in rubble, but to the north it opens into a vast natural cavern, its floor an uneven jumble of loose stone and fungus, its ceiling rising like a church cathedral to a height of nearly a hundred feet above. Glowing fungus grows thick on the walls, bathing the cavern in ugly hues of purple and pale blue. Toppled pillars and mounds of rubble dot the western half of the cave, while to the east a mound of fungus, bones, and rubble rises. At the mound’s apex squats a flat-topped altar stone, with towering barren trees rising on three sides, their leafless branches twisted and groping toward the ceiling above as if in search for a sun’s warmth they shall never feel. A trickle of what appears to be sludge runs thickly and slowly from a hollow under the altar stone to gather to the northwest of the hill in a swampy pool.

A thick, dry smear of black slime and strange circular prints in the mold runs from a flight of stairs in the west wall north into this cavern.

Perception checks:

Kolthis: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (3) + 10 = 13
Walter: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (20) + 1 = 21
Yelena: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (8) + 10 = 18
Maritine: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (4) + 10 = 14
Mihaela: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (7) + 12 = 19
Lys: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (1) + 13 = 14

Stealth: 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (15) + 15 = 30

Silence as you peer out at this awful grandeur. The air is unhallowed. You can almost hear the chanting that once must filled this space. What horrors has this cavern seen over the millennia? What otherworldly blasphemies have desecrated the very world by being summoned here? How many lives have been shed, throats cut, and blood spilled by the devotees of the Dark Tapestry?

Impossible to say.

But one thing is clear. You stand at the edge of one of the darkest corners of Golarion.


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' teeth clack for a moment as Yelena gives her answer, mind straying into darker things for a brief moment. What's horrified even the Dark Folk, such that they're afraid of the dark!?, are the words on her lips, her mind racing to paint pictures where the very rays of the sun scorch her, food turns to ash in her mouth. Stop it. Mind should not fight mind.

A wry, dark smile appears on Lys' face a moment later. "Wow. If we stick around and talk to them a bit more, we can make a killing publishing Dark Folk poetry.", she winks at Yelena, though her words once again hang in the air. "Sure, the five before us fell, but there's a lot more of us, right?", she adds as the group begins to descend down the myriad of unknown steps, into the past of Golarion as it unfolds. Or are we? I could always run, nobody will even know, not in this darkness...

Still, she carries on, through mold-covered pillars of stone and earth entombing around her. A quiet whisper, mumbling, almost, leaves Lys' mouth. "Man hofft, dass du keine Ferienplannen hast, Zuchtmeister.", she hisses, the words faint, with barely a glint of defiance. It is then that the natural, if it can be called as such, cavern and its grotesque scenery. "This... is as old as time...", she whispers reverently, only to notice the mound of bones, her teeth snapping once again at the evil. "But all things must come to an end, and it might as well be now for this place."

Dwarven:

"Taskmaster, I hope you're not taking a break soon."


Female Half-elf {conditions: none} Inquisitor 5 | HP 28/28 | AC 24 (Tch 18 FF 18) | F +5 R +8 W +9 (+2 vs. ench.) | Init +10 | Perc +12, low-light vision, scent (vs. aberr.)

"Indeed, there's more of us" she says, taking position right behind Kolthis. "And not just in terms of numbers." Her tone seems calm and resolute, but whether it's the conviction of the crusader, or the grim determination of the martyr that resonates in her voice — she couldn't tell herself.

Down they go, and time itself seems to be winding back as they follow the trail deeper and deeper into the bowels of the earth. She's started to lost the very cognition of space and time, her feverish mind concocting the unsettling belief that should they venture any further, they'll reach the primeval point when time and space were one and the multiverse begun: another step, and they'll be sucked out of reality itself — when finally something appears.

"A place of beginnings" she ponders as her eyes follow the tracks of black slime up to the altar. "A wound on reality itself."


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

"More, less, it doesn't matter. We are here, and we will stand against this darkness." Maritine says determinedly, eyes blazing as if fueled by the combined conviction of the others. Whatever lurked in the darkness, they would face it together.

Staying just far back enough that the light of her torch wouldn't immediately give them away (she cursed her human eyes) she could not help but find the numerous layers disturbingly fascinating - so much history, so many secrets No. That way lies madness.

Down, down, down. Ever forward but ever downward, as if they walked the steps to reach the Underdark. How far had they gone? How deep? How much further before they strode beyond?

When they finally reached the bottom and with the profane alter in view, Maritine had answers - it was a matter of whether she wanted them or not.

She shivered involuntarily as something within her resonated at the blasphemous sight and the urge to flee pulled at her - even with her companions she could not shake the fact that she had come too far, putting her very humanity at risk simply through being there.

Knowledge rolls!:

Knowledge-Religion: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (5) + 9 = 14
Knowledge-History: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (2) + 9 = 11
Knowledge-Planes: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (1) + 9 = 10
Knowledge-Nature: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (18) + 9 = 27
Knowledge-Arcana: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (17) + 9 = 26


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

Wait, nearsighted Walter has the best Perception check? Dang. Okay... what do I notice?

More Knowledge rolls!:

Knowledge-Religion: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (3) + 14 = 17
Knowledge-History: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (19) + 14 = 33
Knowledge-Planes: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (2) + 14 = 16
Knowledge-Nature: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (11) + 14 = 25
Knowledge-Arcana: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (9) + 14 = 23


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

Interrogating the flavor text!

Quote:
At the mound’s apex squats a flat-topped altar stone, with towering barren trees rising on three sides, their leafless branches twisted and groping toward the ceiling above as if in search for a sun’s warmth they shall never feel.

Trees growing underground? Maritine and I have 25 and 27 on Knowledge (Nature) checks... let's make sure these are really trees and not some tree-shaped blood-sucking aberration or something.

Altar: look closely (but do not touch).

Quote:
A trickle of what appears to be sludge runs thickly and slowly from a hollow under the altar stone to gather to the northwest of the hill in a swampy pool.

Walter eyes the pool thoughtfully. It may or may not be dangerous, but there's almost certainly something unpleasant in there...

Quote:
A thick, dry smear of black slime and strange circular prints in the mold runs from a flight of stairs in the west wall north into this cavern.

Multiple exits / side caverns and then... more stairs. Well, well. Let's examine this cavern thoroughly first.


Female Half-elf {conditions: none} Inquisitor 5 | HP 28/28 | AC 24 (Tch 18 FF 18) | F +5 R +8 W +9 (+2 vs. ench.) | Init +10 | Perc +12, low-light vision, scent (vs. aberr.)

As it is usual for her in such situations, Mihaela's analytical mind races to impose a sense on the supreme improbability laid in front of her by breaking it down to atomic pieces and focusing on one at a time — a defensive mechanism she has learned long ago to protect her sanity when the warp of reality becomes too thin and too frayed.

Rolls:

Mihaela won't let herself be out-nerded that easily! ;)

Knowledge (arcana) (guidance): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (20) + 7 = 27
Knowledge (dungeoneering) (guidance): 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (16) + 10 = 26
Knowledge (planes) (guidance): 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (4) + 6 = 10
Knowledge (religion) (guidance): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (17) + 7 = 24

aaand there goes the natural 20, and the 17s, and the 16s... now I wish this was a combat encounter instead.

Sighing heavily, she taps deep within her soul, frantically searching for a connection with her Goddess even in this most unholy of places. A single spark answers her call, and silently praising the comforting warmth in her chest she proceeds to channel its power to fortify herself against the trials ahead.

Casting bless (everybody within 50 ft.), divine favor, protection from evil, returning weapon and weapon of awe. All should last 5 more minutes (hopefully enough to finish exploring the dungeon, unless there's another long descent ahead).

Seeing Walter striding towards the altar, she turns invisible once more and follows him closely, an unseen bodyguard shadowing the wizard's every step.

Disappear spell-like ability from the Clandestine Inquisition. Lasts 5 rounds, should be enough to cover the distance?


Female Human Psychic (Esoteric Starseeker) 5 | HP 22/27 | 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) 3/8, (2nd) 3/6, (Bonus) 1/0 | Phrenic Pool 4/4 | Active Conditions: None

Yelena tries to keep count of the steps as they descend, using the simple ritual of numbers to keep her focus as they go further and further underground. As long as she focuses on the numbers, she doesn't focus on just how far beneath the earth they are, how far away from the stars...

Lost in the repetition, it takes her a second to realize they've hit the bottom. Under normal circumstances the sight of vegetation would have been uplifting. But those strange, barren trees and the ever-present mold are somehow farther from nature than any architecture could ever be.

And the slime. Everywhere, black pools of sludge gathering, a physical manifestation of corruption. The altar, so much like the one she'd seen in that cultist's mind...

Something's wrong. This doesn't make sense. The Black Goat is a creature of the woods, of new moons. This underground cavern wouldn't be a place of power for It, unhallowed trees or no.

Perhaps she's been reading too much into that symbol. Maybe the Black Goat With A Thousand Young was only tangentially involved. Whether that was a good thing or bad depended on what had actually been summoned at that accursed altar.

Speaking of which, she sees Walter heading straight for it, no pause to consider what dangers he might encounter. Reckless, overconfident...that was the Walter she knew.

"Walter, wait!" she hisses, but she doubts it will be enough to stop him. Which means she has to go after him. It looks like Mihaela had the same idea, as the other woman turns invisible once more. Cursing herself for a fool, she follows him as he approaches the altar.

OOC:
Also heading to the altar, staying about 25 feet behind Walter. That should put Yelena in a decent position when s*@& inevitably hits the fan.

I would also like to roll K. Nature on those trees. Yelena is decidedly disturbed by them.

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

Heightened Awareness lasts for 50 minutes, so I should have 20 minutes of that buff remaining.

Editing this to try the other knowledge rolls you just posted, rather than creating a separate post for them.

K. Religion, HA: 1d20 + 13 + 2 ⇒ (8) + 13 + 2 = 23
K. History, HA: 1d20 + 10 + 2 ⇒ (15) + 10 + 2 = 27
K. Planes, HA: 1d20 + 13 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 13 + 2 = 17
K. Arcana, HA: 1d20 + 13 + 2 ⇒ (12) + 13 + 2 = 27


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

Knowledge-Religion DC 20:
This is clearly a site sacred to the Dark Tapestry. The trees are ceremonial, no doubt grown to make the altar more pleasing to the Old One.

Knowledge-History DC 20:
This place reeks of ancient history, no doubt dating to before the first settlement was built on Carrion Hill. Given the descent and the various architectural styles you passed by, you would guess that this cavern is at least 2,000 years old, if not older.

Knowledge-Planes DC 20:
You see the same symbol carved onto the front of the altar that you saw daubed on the house above in blood: three goat heads attached at the neck, with their horns forming a circle, making this clearly a place sacred to the Dark Tapestry and the Old Cults.

Knowledge-Planes DC 30:
This altar is dedicated to Shub-Niggurath herself, the Black Goat of the Woods.

Knowledge-Nature 15:
The trees are ancient and twisted, and were grown via necromantic magic, not by natural means. They are almost fossilized now, their bark as hard as iron, their branches extending across the ceiling and touching, like fingers groping in the dark, decorated with hanging bones and other cult fetishes.

Knowledge-Arcana 15:
The trees are decorated with hanging bones and cult fetishes that were used to facilitate the opening of a portal.


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

"This place reeks of ancient history," Walter murmurs, "no doubt dating to before the first settlement was built on Carrion Hill. Given the descent and the various architectural styles we have passed by... I would guess that this cavern is at least 2,000 years old, if not older. It may predate the Age of Enthronement altogether."

Walter pauses. Then, "“The only saving grace of the present is that it's too damned stupid to question the past very closely,” he adds, softly, obviously quoting someone.


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

The wizard strides a few steps closer to the altar...

"These trees were grown via necromantic magic, not by natural means. They are almost fossilized now... you see the hanging bones, the fetishes? These were used to facilitate the opening of a portal."

Walter pauses again. Then, slowly, as if quoting something he remembers only partially and reluctantly: "They walk unseen and foul in lonely places where the Words have been spoken and the Rites howled through at their Seasons. The wind gibbers with Their voices, and the earth mutters with Their consciousness. They bend the forest and crush the city, yet may not forest or city behold the hand that smites. Kadath in the cold waste hath known Them, and what man knows Kadath...?"

He shakes his head. Then, hoarsely: "When all is done -- if it is ever done -- we need to destroy this place. Break what can be broken, and burn the rest with fire."


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

Following closely, hand at the stock of her crossbow, Lys glances around the room. It's so... eerie? Calm, but like if something horrid was asleep. Like... a sleeping bear, if the bear was the most horrifying thing I've seen. The Dark Tapestry itself...., she ponders as she bites her lips, following the others down the stairs. Hearing Walter's comments, she chuckles sarcastically, the rapid flow of her words baring the ball of nerves beneath. "Yeah. Sure, Walter. The present is stupid, not the millenia-old bastards raising trees from sacrifical corpses to please whoever from the Dark Tapestry this is from. At least you know Asmodeus wants to own you completely and utterly.", she hisses, eyes scanning over the details. "Whoever said that needs to get down from his pompous horse and talk to actual people.", she adds snidely.

As Walter closes to the altar, Lys' crossbow raises ever so slightly. Walter, don't do anything insane. Would hate to put you down, but..., she sighs a sign of relief as he mentions the place's destruction. "That's the plan. Why not start now?", she asks, as a dart with a glass vial on the top appears in her hand. "You Desnans think holy water will help?", she raises an eyebrow. Two vials. Against a whole lake.

Rolls/OoC:

Nerding out with the best of 'em!
Knowledge(Religion): 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (20) + 11 = 31


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

Details become clear as you cross into the great natural cavern, leaving the pillars behind. The sludge that runs out from under the altar appears to be potent in some unknown way; the air above it shimmers as if with heat, such that the back of the cavern where the pool lies is hard to focus on, the air shimmering and swaying, distorting the cave wall behind it as if barely invisible curtains were shifting about in place.

The heat shimmer effects every square within 5 feet of the lake or the rivulet. Nobody is currently standing within the shimmer's effects.

Four cave passages branch off from the cavern here, but only the on to the southwest has not been blocked by a series of relatively new iron bars. A swath of black slime and round footprints winds from the wide passageway in the southwest up to the southern bank of sludge.

A body lies in the pool of sludge, black robed and face down, its frame twisted by terrible violence. Deep incisions like circular bites or cuts cover wherever there is exposed skin.

A second body lies over the altar, wearing a similar dark robe, but in much worse condition; it lies on its back, the old man's face gaping up at the distant ceiling in abject horror, his rib cage torn open so that individual ribs can be seen. An arm is missing, torn off at the elbow, and similar circular bites mark his body everywhere.

However, as you draw close, from behind the altar leaps up a wizened form, its pallid gray skin drawn tight over its starved frame, landing lightly atop the altar, the man's missing arm in one clawed hand, its face dark with blood as it chews on something and swallows.

Beady yellow eyes fix on you all without fear, eyes inhuman and bestial, without iris or pupil, eyes that speak of horrors you cannot imagine. Bald, its pointed ears swept back, clad in only in a dark skirt of cobalt blue, it leers down at you, exposing gore-washed fangs, and sets a huge, leather-bound tome down beside the corpse.

"You have strayed far from the sunlit lands, little ones. Down into the dark you have come - Yarresh's dark. Far from your homes. Your loved ones. Alone. Cut off. You are in grave danger. And not just from me. I am not alone down here. You're surrounded. Speak your piece, pay fitting tribute, and perhaps I will let you go."

Knowledge Dungeoneering DC 16:
This is clearly a ghoul, but something about it is uncommon; it seems to be more self-aware, more verbose, than others of its kind.

Knowledge Dungeoneering DC 21:
You know that ghouls are famed for their ability to paralyze with but a touch, can see perfectly in the dark, and can attack multiple times with their ferocious bite and claws.

DM Rolls:

1d20 + 14 ⇒ (1) + 14 = 15

Sense Motive DC 15:
You can sense that Yarresh is telling the truth, mostly, about not being alone; whether you are in as much peril as he's making out, however, is less sure.


Female Human Psychic (Esoteric Starseeker) 5 | HP 22/27 | 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) 3/8, (2nd) 3/6, (Bonus) 1/0 | Phrenic Pool 4/4 | Active Conditions: None

Yelena's gorge rises as she sees the bodies. It ripped them apart. They deserved it, but still...such a horrible way to die.

She does note, however, that only two bodies lie here, not five. Did the creature eat the others whole, or do their bodies lie elsewhere? Is it possible they escaped? They'd have to check the place thoroughly in order to figure out what happened to the missing three cultists.

But before she can begin investigating, a ghoul jumps up from behind the altar. An unusually articulate ghoul. Yelena catches sight of what he's clearly eating and pales.

He might be telling the truth about not being alone. He might even know exactly what happened here. It's always wise to get as much information as you can before a fight. So she forces down her nausea and speaks.

"'Yarresh's dark'? Then you must know of what happened here. That a creature was unleashed that threatens the lives of everyone and everything in existence." She fixes her gaze on Yarresh, lip curling in disgust in spite of herself. "We intend to stop it. If you know anything about what was summoned, it would be in your best interests to tell us."

Dice Rolls:
K. Dungeoneering: 1d20 + 13 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 13 + 2 = 18
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (10) + 10 = 20
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (16) + 4 = 20

Yelena is telling the truth, but Bluff still might be more appropriate given she has no intention of letting him go whether he talks or not. She has no ranks in Bluff and only 10 charisma, so that would be a 16.


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

Die Roll:
1d20 + 14 ⇒ (19) + 14 = 33

Yarresh's upper lip curls back like that of an ape at Yelena's words, revealing bloodless gums and even more of his dagger-like teeth.

"I know all, human. Nothing happens within the darkness that Yarresh does not know." He raises the arm, inserts one of the crooked fingers into his maw, and bites it off.

Chews.

There is a crackling sound as bones splinter.

"And yes, something most interesting happened here. Yes. The smell of it... lingers." And Yarresh sniffs sharply at the air. "It is gone now, whatever it was. Gone to torment the living, the sunlit lands. As it should be." Again he raises his lip in the caricature of a smile.

"But what will you give Yarresh for this information? I know more. I have tasted the flesh of those who summoned this... thing... into existence. I have sucked the knowledge from their very marrow. What will you give Yarresh in exchange, hmm?"

Die Roll:
1d20 + 14 ⇒ (3) + 14 = 17

Sense Motive under 17:
Yerresh is telling the stone cold truth - he knows more about this than he's letting on, but is willing to barter.

Sense Motive DC 17:
Yerresh is not telling the whole truth; you doubt he actually sucked the knowledge from the marrow of the cultist, but he does seem to know something - perhaps quite a bit more - and is willing to share in exchange for something of value.


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

Maritine grim demeanor twists into a scowl of disgust as she recognizes the fouling of the trees, having seen what the more deranged do with the bark and the strange brews they make from it. To see a copse 'growing' so openly angered her; the mockery of the surface demanded rebuttal.

And the fetishes she also recognized, as did she recognize their importance - Here the foul deed and been done. Whatever the deluded fools had called forth, they called it forth here - and it seems it destroyed them. Her deductive reasoning is distracted as Walter starts to move for the alter and only when the old man starts to agitate and call for the complete destruction of the cave and all within it does she calms enough to refocus on - Ah.

It was, in many ways, an unusual comfort to see that even with the utter alien depravity of the Dark Tapestry, something we're certain. And deep in the earth's dark corners fresh meat attracted scavengers. The strange hunched cannibal just happened to be the more dangerous type, but a scavenger it remained.

She waited for the creature to finish grandstanding and raises her torch enough to be able to stare it down. "We are less alone than you believe - certainly less so than you. If there are more of you, why would they wait to eat, when fresh meat is right there?"

Dice Rolls:

Knowledge Dungeoneering: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (4) + 9 = 13
Perception: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (1) + 10 = 11
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (14) + 11 = 25


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

Yerresh grins at Maritine, enjoying, it seems, her defiance.

"Little girl hiding behind a big hat, you think this all the meat in the world?" He pokes at the corpse with its own arm. "And you think we come rushing out like fools to greet you when you appear? Oh no. We're not fools. Down in the dark only the cunning survive. We bide our time. We watch. We wait. And if you play us false, we tear you down before you even realize we're there."

His voice deepens and grows rough and raw as he looms forward, beetling out over the altar and the corpse, to leer at Maritine with his piss-yellow eyes.

Intimidate: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (19) + 14 = 33


Female Human Psychic (Esoteric Starseeker) 5 | HP 22/27 | 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) 3/8, (2nd) 3/6, (Bonus) 1/0 | Phrenic Pool 4/4 | Active Conditions: None

Yelena moves forward to get closer to the ghoul, eyes cold. "You would barter with us? Do you really think the creature will never return? It may hunt the sunlit lands now, but this is the place where it was born. It will return. And when it does, you will be the one ripped apart. Unless you give us whatever information you possess, so we can stop it. That is the bargain we make." Her mouth twists briefly as she looks at the arm, and then she smiles.

"It's impolite to eat during a conversation. I'd stop, if I were you."

OOC:
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (5) + 10 = 15

Yelena casts Prestidigitation on the arm. Prestidigitation can be used to flavor '1 pound of nonliving material.' Specifically, she flavors it to make it taste like the hottest pepper Golarion has. Wise? Probably not. But Yelena is both exceptionally disgusted and rather petty at times.


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

Yerresh cocks his head to one side as Yelena steps forward, eyes locked on her, and listens intently as she berates him. His smile widens once more, as if he were enjoying her castigation.

"Human woman. I never said I was polite." And he takes a large bite out of the arm's bicep.

Chews, slows, stops.

His piss yellow eyes narrow, and then he turns his head to spit a gobbet of raw flesh onto the ground.

"Unwise, witch. Unless you wish your arm torn off to take this one's place."

It seems that whatever response he might have made to her previous demands have been overridden by her assault on his food.

(Gonna rule that the undead don't have much by the way of taste buds, but Yelena's cantrip was enough to ruin his enjoyment of the flesh.)


Female Human Psychic (Esoteric Starseeker) 5 | HP 22/27 | 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) 3/8, (2nd) 3/6, (Bonus) 1/0 | Phrenic Pool 4/4 | Active Conditions: None

Yelena shrugs nonchalantly. "It was distracting as well as impolite. The flavor will wear off soon enough, and you can go back to your meal."

If we let you live that long.

"Fine. I'll bite. If self-preservation isn't a good enough motivation for you to help us, what is? What exactly do you want?"


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

Yerresh licks his liver-colored lip with a tongue that is entirely too long.

"At last the little girl asks the right question. As is right. As is proper. What do I want? I shall tell you, human. And if you help me, I shall be benevolent. I shall leave this..." he looks about the great cavern, as if evaluating it, eyes narrowed, "...abattoir of the soul to you and yours. Including this delicious book I found, here on the altar. But for that, you'll need to impress me. I was... displaced from my tribe. My attempts to replace our old leader... went astray. If you gift me with magical items that will allow me to return and depose that wretched worm, I shall prove generous. I'll tell you what I know, and leave this realm to you."

His grin widens. "Or you could instead bring me a supply of fresh bodies. Surely there are some dead in the world above that you would not miss? Bring me a half dozen corpses, and I shall declare myself content."

Sense Motive DC 10:
Yerresh is telling the truth. He'll indeed leave the book, corpses, and this cavern if you gift him with sufficient magical items or a half dozen fresh corpses.


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

dice rolls:

Knowledge (Dungeoneering)1d20 + 14 ⇒ (7) + 14 = 21 <-- made it
Sense Motive 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (7) + 2 = 9 <-- got nothing
DC 15 Will save (because the appearance of an undead activates Walter's Spooked condition) 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (18) + 7 = 25 <-- apparently Walter has met ghouls before? Or... let's say he once knew someone who's met a lot of ghouls.

Walter is not a negotiator, or any sort of face character. He does have one thing going for him, though: all those hours spent studying odd languages.

Walter suddenly breaks out in a muttering, meeping, glibbering language of slurred vowels and slobbered consonants. It sounds like a language spoken by creatures whose mouths and tongues were in a process of disintegration... which, of course it is. It's the rotting tongue of the undead,

Necril:
"In the sunlight, I once met a man who had fallen into Pnath. He said he called for the help of the ghouls there. For it would be better, he said, to meet a ghoul, which one can see, than a bhole, which one cannot see.

"Our concern is not with you. Your kind have lived here since Night began, and no doubt shall do so long after our lights have departed. But this thing threatens both the walkers in sunlight and the crawlers in the dark.

"Do but tell us what you know of all this, and we shall leave you with these remains, to feast as you will. For the tome we will trade flasks of oil, which burn with a flame most painful and loathsome to your kind, and also a magical scroll. The scroll can blast your foes with pain and ruin. Or you can travel to Leng, if you know the path, and trade it to the great and wise ghouls there; I have heard that such things interest them."

Walter's voice is even, steady, neither threatening nor begging. In fact Walter is ready to burn this thing to a greasy smudge, and will cheerfully try to do so the moment it looks like parley isn't working. But hey -- why not try talking first.


Female Half-elf {conditions: none} Inquisitor 5 | HP 28/28 | AC 24 (Tch 18 FF 18) | F +5 R +8 W +9 (+2 vs. ench.) | Init +10 | Perc +12, low-light vision, scent (vs. aberr.)

Deep, deep into the unnatural glade Walter follows his curiosity, and Mihaela follows Walter. The wizard's explanation confirms her own conjectures — the fetishes, the trees, the Dark Tapestry — and then adds some of its own. Yet probably the most unsettling discovery are the bodies: not simply their sorry mangled state, but their number. That means three unaccounted cultists.

Knowledge (dungeoneering) (monster lore, studied target): 1d20 + 9 + 2 + 2 ⇒ (12) + 9 + 2 + 2 = 25
Sense Motive (studied target): 1d20 + 12 + 2 ⇒ (15) + 12 + 2 = 29

It takes a lot of self-control to override long-ingrained reflexes — like a loaded spring, the half-elf's wrist stops mere instants before unleashing star-pointed death against the sudden apparition. A ghoul. She has dispatched many of its kind before, though this one looks suspiciously vicious and cunning. Silent and motionless, she regards the putrid creature with slanted eyes, ready to rid Golarion of such a disgusting mockery of life at a moment's notice.

Sense Motive (studied target): 1d20 + 12 + 2 ⇒ (5) + 12 + 2 = 19
Sense Motive (studied target): 1d20 + 12 + 2 ⇒ (15) + 12 + 2 = 29

Again, she hears, rather than speak. She doesn't balk at the monster's threats, and indeed, the confirmation of his status as a pariah confirms her suspicion of their emptiness. Finally, the idea of helping it either gain control of its rotten tribe, or — Desna forbid it — indulge in its necrophagic inclinations is too revolting to even consider.

Should her invisibility expire, she can renew it up to four times. Being a spell-like ability, it lacks verbal or somatic components, so it shouldn't break Stealth, I hope.

Action:

Swift Action: activate bane

Standard Action: ready attack vs. Yerresh should hostilities break
   Thrown Starknife(divine favor, bless, bane, studied target): 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (16) + 18 = 34
   damage (divine favor, weapon of awe, bane, studied target, sneak attack?): 1d4 + 2d6 + 1d6 + 15 ⇒ (3) + (2, 6) + (3) + 15 = 29 26 if sneak attack isn't applicable


Female Human Psychic (Esoteric Starseeker) 5 | HP 22/27 | 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) 3/8, (2nd) 3/6, (Bonus) 1/0 | Phrenic Pool 4/4 | Active Conditions: None

Yelena's eyes narrow slightly at the odd language. It's not one she knows, though she knows of it, and that Walter felt the need to switch to a tongue likely none of them knew concerns her.

He's given you no reason to doubt him. A little paranoia keeps you alive, but too much will get you killed.

The problem being that the line between 'too little' and 'too much' was very thin indeed.

Still, she steps back in a show of deference to Walter's new attempt at negotiation. (And, not coincidentally, it moves her out of the line of fire in case he decides to burn the altar sooner rather than later.)


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

Walter, give me a diplomacy roll with a +10 circumstance/rp bonus.


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

Diplomacy 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (20) + 11 = 31

DAMN

Walter has almost literally never tried diplomacy before! It is not his jam!


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

At the appearance of the creature, Lys' crossbow points towards the ghoul, the bolt aimed directly at its head. Still, as words leave its mouth, she holds off from the trigger, her full attention ready to snap a barrage at teh monster. Still, it speaks. And it reasons. And, somehow, I feel like its not an ally of the beast, only an opportunistic carrion eater. And as disgusting it is to let a ghoul roam free... not even a pack of ghouls can cause the carnage behind us.

She raises an eyebrow as the streams of guttural phrases leave Walter's mouth, but given that neither the ghoul nor him leap into combat, she waits. Have to understand, Walter, bursting in a jovial one-on-one chat with the enemy isn't making me feel more relaxed., the words almost leave her mouth.

Rolls/OoC:

Sense Motive: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (4) + 11 = 15
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (3) + 11 = 14
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (18) + 11 = 29


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

Jerresh leans forward as Walter begins his revolting speech; his eyes narrow in speculation, and with the tips of his fevered claws he scratches at this chin.

Suspicion turns into something akin to wariness, which then visibly smooths into solemn consideration. He opens his maw, and the same rotting language spills forth, his tongue lolling about obscenely within his jaws.

Necril:
"I had not thought to converse with a learned being amongst your group; you speak true, manling. The shadow of that dread plateau stretches far - and it pleases me that it has stretched over you as well. You speak handsomely. I can sense your power. I offer you this: come with me as my servant, and I shall show you the dark secrets of the depths. I shall open our dread libraries to you, and unroll the scrolls of skin and flesh so that you may widen your cognizance and step upon the path of true mastery. All you need do is swear fealty to me, and the wisdom of the inner darkness shall be yours."

Yerresh leans forward, staring intently at Walter, head cocked to one side as he awaits his response.

Walter:
I'm going to assume Walter turns down this opportunity and opts to remain within the module.

After Walter responds, disappointment flickers across the ghoul's wizened visage.

Necril:
"Very well. Perhaps it was not meant to be. I shall take instead these gifts you have offered. Set them before me on the altar with suitable deference, and I shall give you this book and these bodies. Then have your companions bow before me, and I shall depart with my brothers and sisters, leaving this cavern to you and yours."


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

Walter reaches into his very complicated vest and removes two flasks of lamp oil and a scroll. Stepping forward, he carefully sets them on the altar. That's all my lamp oil gone, alas. And one scroll of Magic Missile cast at 5th level.

Walter turns to the rest of the party. "He will trade us the book for a few tokens, tell us what he knows -- little enough, it seems -- and go in peace.

"Bow or curtsy now, please. He claims this realm, and we... do not." Walter turns back to the ghoul, and speaks again in the tongue of the dead.


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

Following Walter, Lys places a vial from her coat and a bolt from her wrist onto the altar. Only at the mention of the gesture does her eyebrow darts up. "Bow or curtsy?", she quizzes in disbelief, pushing back a chuckle. "Are you for-", she starts saying, before biting her teeth. Pride, Lys. Would you endanger your allies, your task, for the sake of your pride? "But of course.", she says, a grin on her face.

Shifting the crossbow on her back, she overdramatically falls to the ground, beckoning her hands in the air. "Oh, pustulant rotting lord of carrion! What Your Repugnance wants is my desire!", she speaks out in fake pathos, taking down her hat from her head and leaning forwards. "I implore you, let the stench of your knowledge fill the noses of our minds, so that you can save us the time and effort of asking the dead ourselves." Walter was bragging about that last time we met, right?, she continues, this time placing a hand on her heart. "For truer words were never spoken, we're awe-struck by the titanic might of a single ghoul, and not simply willing to have a win-win exchange with a reasonable creature that's heavily outnumbered." Giving one more overly deep bow, she stands up, drawing her crossbow and pointing it towards the ground. "Does that do it, or should I go again?", she asks the ghoul with a cheerful look in her face. As she shuts up, though, a quiet voice at the back of her hed begins gnawing away at her defiance.

Good going, idiot. Now you probably angered the ghoul, and you'll be stuck with nothing but injuries and no information. Should've just run, Lys..., the voice's truths like piercing barbs in her head.

I absolutely hate the 'I'm just playing my character' as an excuse, but it's half Lys knowing that the ghoul is overplaying his hand, and half her willing to reaffirm at least a little agency in her life. That, and I hope if it ends up going bad, to have a little character abrasion happen.


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

Necril:
"I thank you for the offer. It is not to be. My path lies above, in the lands beneath the sun. There shall I walk until I come to the Last And First Meal. And then perhaps it will be my destiny to descend the seventy steps to the Cavern of Flame and to journey beyond, to Pnath and Zoth and perhaps to Leng itself. And perhaps we shall meet again, in the dark beyond dreams.

"But for now, there is a task at hand. Walter gestures at the bodies on the altar. "You said you have sucked the knowledge from their very marrow. What knowledge is this?"

Since he's helpful or at least friendly now, I'm looking for whatever information he might have before he scuttles off to whatever pit may have spawned him. Anything he has to say might be interesting, but obviously I'm particularly intrigued by anything relating to Creature X and its idiot summoners.


Female Half-elf {conditions: none} Inquisitor 5 | HP 28/28 | AC 24 (Tch 18 FF 18) | F +5 R +8 W +9 (+2 vs. ench.) | Init +10 | Perc +12, low-light vision, scent (vs. aberr.)

That ghoul was kinda growing on me... until the bowing part, that is.

Every sleek muscle in Mihaela's body clenches as Walter parleys with the carrion-eating abomination in a language she can only make out a few words of — namely, the Aklo terms for darkness, power, and fealty. She's never had any reason to doubt the young man's heart, but then again, that never only extends a couple of hours into the past at most, and above all, it's the wizard's mind that concerns her now, rather than his heart. Virtuous men were known to be seduced by the promise of ancient and forgotten lore, their souls lost because of their hubris or even mere curiosity. And Walter has struck her as the curious type.

Sense Motive (get a hunch): 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (16) + 12 = 28

She realizes her deepest fears are probably ungrounded, and that she's probably only witnessing some form of convoluted bargaining. One look at the dismembered corpses, however, has her wonder if those cultists too thought they could "bargain" with whatever they'd found with impunity.

The idea of paying homage to this self-styled king of a rotten realm, however, happens to be the last straw.

The second to last would be her 2 and a half minutes of invisibility probably close to running out...

"But in the Black Butterfly's name... we shall" A whisper followed by a whistling sound is heard as a Starknife materializes out of nothing, aimed at the creature's sagging neck.

Rolls:

The trigger to her readied action never actually came up, so should I reroll her attack...?

Thrown Starknife (divine favor, bless, bane, studied target): 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (4) + 18 = 22
Damage (divine favor, weapon of awe, bane, studied target, sneak attack?): 1d4 + 2d6 + 1d6 + 15 ⇒ (4) + (5, 2) + (3) + 15 = 29

Edit: same damage, so it didn't change much. Hope a 22 hits, however.

EDIT^2: sorry! I was ninja'd by Walter's and Lys's posts. By all means, do assume Mihalea's reaction happened after Walter got the information he was seeking.


Female Human Psychic (Esoteric Starseeker) 5 | HP 22/27 | 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) 3/8, (2nd) 3/6, (Bonus) 1/0 | Phrenic Pool 4/4 | Active Conditions: None

Yelena has many faults, but as annoyed as she is by the ghoul's overbearing pomposity, pride is not one of them. If Walter's managed to convince the creature to tell them what it knows, a curtsy is a small enough thing to grant.

So she does, with as little sarcasm in the gesture as she can manage. Although she does mutter under her breath, in a language she's quite sure the creature will not know, "Bhiodh e air a bhith nas sìmplidh dìreach am fiosrachadh a tharraing bho inntinn agus a mharbhadh. Tha mi an dòchas gu bheil fios agad dè a tha thu a ’dèanamh."

Celestial:
"It would have been simpler to just extract the information from his mind and then kill him. I hope you know what you're doing."

Admittedly, that's not a foolproof plan, or she would have done that in the first place. But it would have been simpler.

She waits, arms folded, as Yarresh spills whatever he knows. And is nearly as surprised as he is when Mihaela suddenly appears and throws a starknife at his neck. "So much for diplomacy," she says, with a slight grin that makes it clear she's not actually that disappointed to be given an excuse to kill the rotten creature.

If things are devolving into an all-out brawl though, she does not want to be in the front. She quickly steps back behind the bulk of the group, weaving a spell through her mind as she goes. Let's see how you like this!

OOC:
If we get a surprise round, Yelena will cast Unprepared Combatant. If we don't, she'll move behind the group and and cast that spell as her first turn. Will DC17 to negate, otherwise the ghoul takes a -4 penalty to initiative and reflex saves. Yelena will also dismiss Heightened Awareness as a free action to get a +4 bonus to her own initiative.

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