The War of Horrors

Cult Of The Dragon Below

Is the maiden a victim, or a monster?

After defeating the aberrant amphibians guarding the front gate, the party advanced carefully through the unearthly fog. As the party inched toward the looming Black Spire, the miasma took on a blue tint. Drums thundered ahead, and distant shadows resolved into distinct figures: a chanting woman in robes, an elven maiden tied to a crude altar, throngs of squalid cultists and a horrifying half-ogre pounding a drum with leather-wrapped femurs.

Based on the shouts and chants ahead, the group learned that the half-ogre’s name was Hiatha, and the dagger-wielding woman was Ursula. Ursula sang praises to Malikai and Skoulos as she cut deep, bloody symbols into her victim’s flesh. While the witch gleefully sliced and rambled, the mercenaries struck decisively and caught the cultists off guard.

With admirable speed and efficiency, the party slew many of the squalid brutes before they could even react. However, that didn’t stop Ursula from countering with a devastating (and disgusting) counterattack. Her jowls swelled like a bullfrog’s cheeks as she unleashed a torrential spray of blue-green bile teeming with fibrous, black worms.

Jak barely dodged the deluge, but Turnkey took an unhealthy dose directly to his face and chest. Fortunately, despite their fibrous, livewood understructure, warforged lack humanoid organs, tissue and flesh. Once the worms squirmed past his outer plates, they discovered nothing familiar to corrupt.

When Hiatha and Ursula seemed close to defeat, the witch pulled a disgusting, fleshy whistle from her cleavage and blew into it. The gruesome device issued a piecing scream, summoning more cultists from a nearby cave. Even more shockingly, a crazed, filthy dwarf astride an enormous crocodile emerged from a nearby sunken tower.

With her reinforcements at hand, Ursula pressed the battle anew. Although the witch wielded a formidable daelkyr artifact — a pulsating, black orb that drained the life from her foes — she and Hiatha soon fell alongside her degenerate minions. “Avenge me, Sagatha!” she cried to the dwarf before sinking into the muck. Her death grip crushed the unholy sphere to a pulp, spilling its black ichor into the swamp water.

Sagatha did his best to battle the party astride his fearsome war crocodile, but the group quickly pressed him back to the decrepit tower. He blew a simple, steel whistle of his own, and two more crocs stirred from the structure’s brackish inner pool. His reinforcements fared no better than their master, and they all perished swiftly under the heroes’ assault.

Caked in gore, the party paused to survey the battlefield. The warforged members of the troop explored Sagatha’s tower and its pool. Since their race doesn’t breathe, they easily marched into the murky depths and located a hidden treasure chest on a chain. Meanwhile, the remainder of the group helped the elven maiden on the altar.

“My name is Rhiannon,” she declared in a tremulous voice. With the chaos of battle now behind them, the party discovered to their horror that she was missing an arm. When asked about her circumstances, the elf responded that she had been abducted from her family’s home in the dead of night. The cultists had subsequently tortured her mercilessly, carving her flesh both for amusement and to feed their abominations. Suddenly, the piece of jewelry the group found inside a crocodile took on sinister significance.

However, the most chilling discovery was found inside Rhiannon’s wounds — more of the infectious, blue-green filth that Ursula and Paw spewed on their victims. In all likelihood, the unfortunate elf would soon transform into a ravening monster. If the party defeated Malikai, she might be spared a fate worse than death. But in the meantime, keeping her close posed an unacceptable risk.

Without explaining the nature of her affliction, the adventurers persuaded Rhiannon to hide in Sagatha’s squalid lair atop the half-sunken tower. The dwarf formerly made his home in the rafters above the crocodile pool. Flea-infested furs, an oil lamp and a smoked warthog carcass were the only “luxuries” to be found, but a thorough search of the grimy quarters also revealed two bolt cases and three filled wineskins.

Rhiannon didn’t seem thrilled about her lodgings, but without an armed escort, she had no way to return home. The party vowed to return her home as soon as possible, but defeating the cult took priority for the time being. Without further delay, they departed the watery tower and slogged toward their desination: a menacing cave far below the Black Spire.

Blue vapors drifted menacingly from the rocky opening. With more than a little trepidation, the group climbed the scaffolding leading into its ominous maw….

Experience earned:

1719 XP total (246 XP per player)

Equipment gained:

  • Chain mail x 2
  • Spear x 1
  • Serpentine ceremonial dagger (10 GP) x 1
  • Potion of healing x 1
  • Hide armor (size L) x 1
  • Spiked shield (size L) x 1
  • Morningstar x 1
  • Improvised glaives (valueless junk weapons) x 24
  • Warhammer x 1
  • Crossbow x 1
  • Bolt cases (20 bolts each) x 2
  • Filled wineskins x 3
  • 210 SP
  • 90 GP

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Artair

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