Unraveling the gory Imp we retrieve her weapons and an unholy symbol.
Scouring the temple we find only empty storerooms and a series of indecipherable runes on the wall. After toppling the skull carved pillar, I record the angular symbols for Father Zantus to see.
This Quasit can only be the creature mentioned in Tsuto’s Journal, whose evil minions he hoped to unleash on Sandpoint. Glad we’ve at least foiled that plan, we head back to check the last two tunnels on the way back to the gaol.
The first leads to a grisly torture chamber that shocks even our Inquisitor, with three adjoining cells containing horrifically mutated human remains.
The second path brings us to a high ceilinged room with another small font. As I lean down to inspect the surprisingly untainted water within, something catches my eye in the shadows above…
With a terrible screech, what appears to be a demonic, dismembered, head on leathery wings flaps down from the shadows above. Mhad yells “*Vargouille*!” but doesn’t elaborate. Its evil purpose is clear however and we attack!
It howls again, this time leaving us reeling with supernatural power, Mhad now paralysed, Athene and I strike blow after blow but it swoops down to the immobilised elf, clamping a slavering maw over Mhad’s face.
Athene and I steal a horrified glance as I make a prayer to Iomadae and swing. Hoping I don’t hit Mhad my strike is true, tearing the monster from her face and its long prehensile tongue sliding from her throat.
As its pulverized form slides down the wall, Mhad, free from the spell, drops to the floor gagging “I never experienced anything like that at university”…
These elves are certainly strange if resilient creatures.
When she recovers we open another door to find a spiral staircase leading up, where a stonefall blocks further progress and daylight filters through the fissures… It would be possible with some effort to shift the rubble and we wonder where it leads. I imagine some isolated, forgotten temple… but we agree to return only after investigating the last remaining path.
We return to the gaol and the last unopened door, bursting into a strange vast chamber, the floor covered with wooden trap doors. Standing sentinel is a horrific, muscular, distorted goblinoid with a with an insane expression on its twisted face. In one hand it wields a viscous red longsword with a flame sculpted blade, a silver dagger in the other and a fine axe in a third arm protruding form it’s humped back!
Athene and I charge in to flank him, and he spews thick acidic blood at us! As we exchange blows I steal a glimpse at the lids on the floor, each covers a deep, dark cavity in which a shambling living corpse claws and moans- Zombies! We must step carefully…
I immediately start trying to maneuver this creature down one of these deadly holes when Mhad steps forward and a lets loose a colourful, potent rainbow of magic that engulfs our foe. As the light clears and my eyes adjust, the brute, who we now recognise as Koruvus, goblin hero of the Seventooth tribe, drops his weapons and slumps to the ground in a magical stupor. I pause to marvel for a moment at our elf friend before I smash the prone creatures skull open.
I recall that this villain left his tribe for a jealously guarded, coastal lair, but I don’t remember him being disfigured, or a possessing a third arm? Surely the work of this terrible den of sin. I am beginning to fear that we ourselves have been here too long.
If so, that’s the risk we must take to purge this evil and secure Sandpoint.
Kicking his mangled form into a pit with a grateful zombie, we check the other lids to find similar undead filled cells, all of which appear to have been here a very long time.
A single door branches off to a staircase and a very odd chamber.
The staircase leads down where again it is blocked. This time the debris is immovable but I’m sure I can make out the the howling of dogs beyond? A simple wolf den? Hellhounds? I don’t know?
The chamber proves even more mysterious. A perfect sphere lined with metal plates its contents; a scroll, a wand, a sinister looking tome and a rotting, maggot ridden crow, all hang suspended in mid air! I throw in a piece of chalk and it too floats to a stop. Perhaps this was the lair of our host, the Quasit? I can picture the little monster in here gnawing away on maggots while she flicks through the sodden pages of that book.
Mhad rather expertly fishes the contents out, the magical curiosities of particular interest to her. The tome appears to be a religious text, if unreadable by us.
Mhad looks a little bedraggled and we hope it had nothing to do with her encounter with the vargouille, but she assures us she’s okay. It appears there is only one mystery remaining in this lair; the first stairwell and where it might lead. Doubling back again we begin the excavation. With Mhad too weak to assist it takes hours to clear the obstruction and we shimmy up through the meager chute, up into the sunlight… Of Sandpoint! With a cold pit in my stomach we look around at a secluded back alley. We begin immediately to make plans, to warn the mayor, to cover this portal, when I see a wisp of fine blonde hair falling from across Mhad’s ashen faced. I reach across and easily lift a bushell of hair away… A single, horrified look passes between us and we run, immediately to find brother Zantos.
We arrive just in time to stave off the curse of the Vargouille. Any longer and our elvish friend would have undergone a grisly transformation, her head sprouting wings and separating from her body! Now completely (if temporarily) bald, it’s a haunting reminder to be more vigilant in such infernal lairs.
My hair has always been my one my vices and I can sympathise.
Zantus also tells us that these vargouille usually travel in packs and assimilate whole communities, Sandpoint itself is fortunate.
By now both Athene and I have become thoroughly paranoid but we scrutinse Zantus carefully and decide to share our discoveries with him. The tome is a Lamashtuan, as was much of what we saw below and at Zantus’ urging we take our information to Mayor Kendra Deverin. The Mayor not surprisingly is disturbed and lost for answers.
That is when we decide to take the fight to the enemy. All evidence points to the Thistletop tribe and despite the risk of leaving the town defenceless, we deem that merely waiting for a Goblin invasion is the greater risk. So, after consolidating our bounty we enlist the Goblin scout Shae and get an early night before heading off to take some goblin scalps!