Lamashan 18 – 22, 4708 AR
Cowering in their hiding spot, terrified that foemen may discover them, the Heroes of Sandpoint spent two days recovering from their ordeal, healing and restoring lost lifeforce. Aside from hearing heavy footfalls in the distance, our heroes were left alone, unmolested, to recuperate.
While this time was uneventful, there were a few moments of tension between the group as the stress of their ordeal seemed to overtake them and the two Chelaxians, Lindin Vandroxan and Erekhil, turned their frustrations against their Varisian comrade, taunting his slave-kin heritage. Even though those fits were short lived, and both Chelaxians claimed they were not in control of their actions, the occurrences did leave a cloud hanging over the group and the sorcerer kept his distance from the ranger and sell-sword.
After the two days passed, the party was fully healed and back to their maximum combat effectiveness so they pressed on. Hoping to avoid any unnecessary conflicts on their way to the peak of Mhar Massif, the group stayed off the main, Golden Road, and slowly, methodically, made their way north following back alleys and side streets.
While they encountered no foemen, the shadows of dragons and other flying beasts overhead left Lindin and Erekhil with the distinct feeling that the group was not proceeding unobserved. At one point during the march, Erekhil broke off from the party to scout a mile wide open expanse. Upon returning to his comrades, the sell-sword reported the area contained what appeared to be an immense giant camp, containing over 500 giants of various tribes and types.
The Heroes of Sandpoint decided to keep well away from the camp and any giants which may be patrolling the area. After the day’s march the group found another abandoned home in some back alley to hole up for the night and made their camp.
It was as the group began their rest, a huge, white furred yeti strolled past their position, carrying half an auroch. The creature did not stop, and the group returned to taking their rest when, the giant sized door to the home burst open and the yeti charged forth, but not alone, with a companion.
The beasts attacked with a savage fury, slashing into the group with claws and teeth. But, while they inflicted wounds, they lacked the combat skills to overwhelm the experience and resolve of the Heroes of Sandpoint, who quickly laid low these fell beasts and returned to their rest.
The night passed uneventfully until late in Bahne’s watch, the final watch, the dwarf noticed the group was not alone, but was being watched by a fleshy, oddly chameleon-like, humanoid. Hoisting his weapon, Bahne moved to the creature who spoke joyously, in Thassilonian, “Hello, it is you, yes, you: The Ones Mesmina Prophesized Will Come that are now here as prophesized. I am Mogriv of the Spared. Thank you, The Ones Mesmina Prophesized Will Come. Thank you, for coming.”
Confused, Bahne tried to get to the bottom of the situation and it seems that a group of heroes, heroes who look surprising like the Heroes of Sandpoint, were foretold would come to the Spared’s rescue when the time arose.
And it seemed the time arose.
So, after some confusion, Bahne decided to wake the group up to hear Morgiv’s tale.
Mogriv’s people, skulks, live under Xin-Shalast and for thousands of years, since the “Time of the End,” they’ve scratched out an existence in the passageways and caverns below the city. Recently, though, during their exploration, they breeched a passage into a forbidden area and released a creature unseen, known only as the Hidden Beast.
While no one has seen the Hidden Beast, and the skulks have slowly been turned into mindless slaves by this Hidden Beast, who still has not been seen, who in turn kidnap and enslave other members of the Spared. It is now that heroes are needed and Mogriv begged the party to help his people.
While they knew this could pose risk, the Heroes of Sandpoint are, generally noble at heart and vowed to help the Spared against this Hidden Beast; who was hidden, hence his name, and unseen, and therefore…hidden.
Mogriv was happy and led the group into his people’s subterranean domain where our heroes questioned the skulks regarding the appearance and abilities of the Hidden Beast. But, as had already been expressed, ad nauseam, no one had seen the Hidden Beast.
Armed with what information they could gather, our heroes set off through a bricked up section of wall, heavily guarded by the Spared, into a pitch black cavern system and set off to defeat the Hidden Beast. As the group walked on, they heard the Spared resealing the wall which would only be opened for them again if they knocked the pass code knock.
Using only magical light to guide them our heroes followed the path described to them for what felt like hours when, again in the darkness ahead, Erekhil noticed dim candlelight flickering in what appeared to be an ancient crypt; a set of stairs rose along the north west corner of the room, to the left of the party offering an observation point.
Upon entering the chamber, the sell-sword noticed, perched atop a ten-foot-tall dais in the middle of the room, an ancient giant skeleton sitting on a slowly rotting throne. When Erekhil reached the entry to the chamber, the skeleton seemed to speak, uttering in Abyssal, “Do you come forth to offer your blood to me? Come forth and feel the embrace of your new lord!”
As Abyssal was one of the languages Erekhil spoke, he understood the query and decided he did not wish to come forth and offer his blood to this creature and sprung forward up the stairs as his comrades began to enter the room in support. As Erekhil charged up the stairs, he noticed, too late, a pair of red-eyed, feral skulks above him, who sprung from the ceiling, surrounding the sell-sword, claws tearing his flesh, draining his lifeforce.
A flash of a Lightning Bolt erupted from the giant skeleton and crashed into the rest of the party as they moved to find cover and take the fight to their foes. But, powerful magic kept our heroes at bay as Ayra realized they were fighting the undead – vampires whose life draining power had already begun to take their toll on Erekhil who escaped his predicament and retreated to his allies.
Bahne stepped forth to replace Erekhil at the front, his earthbreaker leading the way, as Deivon returned arcane power with arcane power. Ayra, granted a powerful Invisibility spell from Deivon, shouted for the group to withdraw, which Lindin, in the rear, began to do to make way for his comrades to follow.
But, the Heroes of Sandpoint could not retreat in an organized manner, as they were spread out and in need of aid or healing. Deivon, back against the southern wall, cast spell after spell against the skeletal giant when suddenly, springing from darkened cavern paths to the east, two more vampire skulks charged forth, one digging lifedraining claws into the chest of the Varisian while the other grappled Deivon and dug its fangs deep into his throat.
Deivon’s life essence was slowly draining and the claws and fangs dug deep into his body. Lindin, meanwhile, was still deep in the cavern, guarding the route his allies would come during their withdrawal, which, unknown to the ranger, wasn’t happening.
Bahne, surrounded by vampire skulks, kept up the attack, but they were slowly draining his lifeforce, while their ability to heal quickly kept them engaged, eager to attack. But, after a determined assault, Bahne managed to inflict enough damage on one vampire that it turned to gas and floated away, into a crack in the rock wall.
Erekhil, healed by his wand and Ayra, began to withdraw as well, but Deivon, trapped by firm grasp of the vampire, was being pulled ever closer to the skeleton on the dias, while his lifeforce drained further. All the while the magical onslaught from the skeleton continued to punish the group.
Ayra, still invisible, charged to her Varisian lover casting Freedom of Movement on the sorcerer to allow him to escape the grasp of the vampire skulk. But, as she finished her spell, the priestess of Calistria felt a large, invisible tentacle grasp her, crush her chest and lift her high into the air.
Bahne, alone, flanked by two vampire skulks, and slowly dying, kept up his vicious attack until the two vampires floated, in gaseous form, away, into the rock wall. Weakened from the energy drain and the blood loss, the dwarf staggered towards the cavern path and the waiting ranger.
As the dwarf began his withdrawal, a creature, until now invisible, began to materialize behind the skeleton on the dais. It seems the skeleton was nothing more than the “face” to this Hidden Beast and, instead, it was a monstrosity of horror that unleashed arcane death upon the group. This beast, octopoid in shape with long, thick tentacles protruding from its body that surrounded a huge maw with razor sharp, yellow fangs threw the cleric from his tentacle grip viciously against the catacomb wall, its red eyes glowing with an untamed hunger, as its skin dripped a vile, viscous slime along the ground.
The group, battered, bloodied and drained of lifeforce was now gathered in the entrance to the crypt preparing to withdraw when the Hidden Beast, began to fly towards them, turning into a mist which floated above them and ahead into the passage they must retreat through.
Realizing that death waited either ahead, in the narrow, twisting path or in this room, the Heroes of Sandpoint decided to eliminate the now regenerating vampires in this crypt and await the return of the Beast.
They did not have to wait long when the creature rematerialized in front of Lindin who succumbed to the dominating effect of the creature. Flying above the group, the Beast continued its magical assault on the group while flying close enough to pummel the group with its thick tentacle.
While the Beast’s sustained his assault, from their coffins, the vampire skulks charged to support their new lord, but our heroes were ready for them as they dispatched them with hammer and sword, while Ayra and Deivon punished the beast with their own magical assault.
Lindin, still under the mind control of the vampire Beast, stayed out of the fray.
Fireballs exploded on the Beast, a ray of Disintegration pounded the creature as a barrier of blades cut deeply into the creature’s slimy flesh, but still the Beast attacked. But, Lindin was soon released from the domination of the Beast and his arrows began to plunge deep into the Beast.
With all five Heroes of Sandpoint united in the fight, the Hidden Beast and his undead minions could not withstand their attack and the Beast turned to a fine mist and drifted into the floor of the crypt, through a crack in the dais.
Ayra, with deep knowledge of religious matters, quickly shouted out instructions to the group on how to destroy the vampire’s permanently. Bahne easily handled the four vampire skulks in the crypt in the wall, while Lindin and Erekhil figured out the way into the Hidden Beast’s crypt and slid the dais aside, uncovering the recovering beast and a glittering pile of gold.
Making quick work of the vampires, our heroes began to gather as much gold as they could carry, along with a handful of diamonds.
The group, healed as best as they could given Ayra’s limited spell capability after the encounter, began their long, dark march back to the Spared’s domain. Returning to the walled in entrance, they gave the entry knock and were greeted as returning heroes. A feast was held in their honor and the subterranean ale flowed freely while the heroes ate their first full meal since finding the magical afterimage of the River Avah.
Lindin and Erekhil did not join the celebration; instead they gathered with some of the more experienced skulk hunters and began to make a detailed map of the City of Xin-Shalast.