G154: Flayed Men

Date: December 27, 2012
DM: Quendalon
PCs: Blackjack Dusseldorf, "Half-Moon" Spike, Pigshit Pat, Sassafras
Followers: Lydia Lightfingers, Mircea, Yves

Summary

Whilst in Glantri City, three members of the Company of Crossed Swords — the dwarven warrior Blackjack Dusseldorf, the acerbic elf Sassafras and the walleyed wildmage Pigshit Pat — purchased a map which purported to reveal the location of a potent magical obelisk one week's travel to the west. After taking three hirelings into their employ to round out their numbers, they traveled through Touraine, La VallĂ©e de L'Heureux and Caurenze, and thence out of Glantri proper. There, past the Ouestmarche, Sablestone, and the other western baronies, they entered a landscape of stony karst, where the winds howled between tall, steep-sided limestone hills.

Finding an ancient stair, the party climbed to the top of one of the lower mesas. There they found a sacred pool beneath five mossy menhirs; runes beneath the moss indicated that it was an elven burial-pool, but trawling the pool turned up nothing but bones. Next, searching a grove revealed a recent battle amid the debris of an adventuring band's camp, with footprints leading both westward, to a ruin on the hill's summit, and southward to where a rope bridge arced out to a cave mouth in the side of a taller karst hill. The party probed the ruin, finding it to have been an observatory of some sort, then moved on to another rope bridge heading to a door on a stone balcony in the side of a taller karst hill to the west.

While the party examined the door, noises from within heralded the emergence of the place's horrid inhabitants — gnolls and men without skin, as though they had been flayed alive! The party defeated these guardians with some difficulty, exhausting Sassafras's spells and leaving Lydia Lightfingers on death's door. Pigshit Pat rendered his hireling invisible and left her to guard the entrance while the party entered the place.

Within, the party discovered a row of cells, their one occupant being "Half-Moon" Spike, a rarely-seen member of the Company. He had joined another group, it seemed, who had purchased a similar map in Glantri City. He and all of his companions had been captured, and one by one they had been led deeper into the complex, where they screamed until they could scream no more. He was the last. The rest of the Company welcomed him back into the fold with open arms.

Further exploration turned up a variety of oddities. These included an orichalcum spyglass in a windowed cave, a magic font whose waters drained Half-Moon's strength, a stairway running along the outside of the hill that was guarded by gargoyles, a well whose water turned Sassafras into animate vapor and a strange rip in space which Pigshit Pat daringly gazed into — only to have his mind overwhelmed by the maddening horror of tentacular things from beyond reality.

After fighting more flayed men and turning up some oddly enruned implements from a ruined kitchen, the party chopped down the door to a wine cellar. This drew the attention of a swarm of giant glowing insects which flew at the party, wounding some of them severely. Collecting the wealth they'd encountered in the place, they retraced their steps to the rope bridge and began ferrying the bulkier treasure across.

Then, ambush! Arrows flew from a thicket at the base of the ruined observatory, peppering those party members who had crossed the bridge. While the others sought to join them, the party's advance cadre — Blackjack, Half-Moon and Sassafras — slogged upslope to engage their attackers. Unfortunately, only Blackjack made it; Sassafras was shot full of arrows, while an arrow-strike knocked Half-Moon off balance and sent him tumbling down the slope and out over the edge.

After Blackjack killed a few flayed men, the rest fled for the rope bridge to the south. The party's survivors gathered themselves and their loot and retreated down the steps, away from the hill and back toward civilization.

Losses and Loot

The party defeated 24 flayed men, 5 flayed gnolls and a dozen huge glowing flying bugs. Treasure retrieved included an orichalcum telescope, a bowl of heating food, a spoon of spicing and a dozen bottles of fine wines and liquors.

For monsters defeated and treasure acquired, each surviving PC received 3550 gp and 195 xp.


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