Mirtul the 26th – Mirtul the 27th, The Year of the Gauntlet (05/26/1369 – 05/27/1369)
With Galdoreth being brought back from the steps of death and the group finally coming together to discuss their situation in Espar, they found themselves tired and worn down. In serious need of a rest to reflect on the weeks events. From the death of Ength and Galdoreth, to the trip to the far realm or the strange way that Dhurst was brought back from the brink of oblivion. When it rains, it pours.
As they discussed the events Dhurst seemed to shut down, staring into the distance with a blank look on his face. Attempts to rouse him were met with no success, and even attempts at searching for magical effects turned up nothing. It was determined that he was mentally exhausted and he was put in a cot to rest. Galdoreth and Alwyn continued to discuss things, opting to go for a short walk through town and into the forest while Tempust decided to retire to the Inn for some much needed rest and spell preparation.
An explosion rocked the small settlement of Espar that morning, one more tragedy in a town that could ill afford such things these days. Galdoreth and Alwyn turned back toward town and came running and even Dhurst was roused from his slumber by the blast. As the group converged on the scene, they came upon a massacre. The Inn was in smoldering ruins, the backside of the large two story building blown to bits and rolling in flames. Outside the front of the Inn there lay nearly a dozen bodies strewn through the streats, many cleaved nearly in two.
Dhurst was first on the scene, first to hear the voice. A melodic and horrifying thing as he rounded the corner. Before him stood a massive monstrocity, humanoid in shape but absolutely not man or beast. It was the parts of various humanoids stitched together to create a large flesh golem, reaking of rot with flesh purple and bloated like a body drowned. The wicked face stitched to the head turned to Dhurst as he rushed toward it. It’s voice was reciting poetry that detailed death, decay and menace. Just as Dhurst approached the Golem pulled a large black hook from the back of a townswoman. The hook crackled with electricity, copper wires wrapping it, around the beast’s wrist and slipping into it’s flesh between stitching.
Dhurst was quick, landing a vicious strike against the monstrocity before it had a chance to fully turn it’s attention to him. When it did, he realized that he had done the equivilent of a scratch to it and he braced himself for the inevitable counter attack.
The first swipe of the hook came wide and Dhurst was able to twist away just in the nick of time. As he whirled by the hook swung back and he found himself dropping to his knees, the hook nearly taking his scalp. Before he could react though the hook came around with blinding speed and Dhurst brought his blade up to try and deflect some of the attack.
Braced as well as he could the blow was bearable, as he caught the hook on the hilt of his blade, but the shock of the impact made his arms numb and his shoulder instantly seared with a sharp pain. There was nothing to do for it though, so he went at it. Attacking with lightning quickness he lunged four times but was suprised when only two sticks of his blade managed to pierce the beast, and those seemed not to do much in the way of damage to the monstrocity.
The two continued, back and forth. Dhurst catching the worse end of each exchange. If nothing else though, he distracted the beast while a few more people escaped the streets and fled for the safety of their homes. Dhurst was just beginning to wonder where his companions were when Alwyn and Galdoreth hit the scene. Galdoreth instantly went to work restoring the aches and pains that were about to overwhelm Dhurst while Alwyn got into position behind the Golem. The two went to work, hacking and slashing away but finding that the response of the monster was that of terrifying power. They managed to bring it down with Dhurst’s blade buried to it’s hilt in the monster’s chest and Alwyn with his blade plunged into the back of it’s head, It’s hook was raised, ready to come down on Dhurst as an arrow also took the creature in the eye from afar. Dhurst and Alwyn took it as their chance and plunged their blades again and again, bringing the monstrocity down.
As it died, it disintigrated into dust. The arrow had come from a friend of Alwyn’s, a young man and devout follower of Liira who had looked up to Alwyn for his desire to aid the destitute in Suzail. There wasn’t time to discuss the situation though, so all of them set off into the Inn, the young man who had come to aid, fully garbed in the robes of a Liira cleric began casting create water over and over in an attempt to quench the flames. The fire was beginning to spread to the fields behind the establishment and the group quickly searched inside the Inn for survivors, finding none. Instead they did find signs of people being dragged away from the back of the Inn, where the backside had been blown apart in a terrible explosion.
Since there was no sign of Tempust and they knew that whatever had attacked the Inn had taken prisoners (or corpses) toward the forest, they set off in pursuit. The tracks were easy to follow as it was obvious that multiple bodies were dragged away and into the dense forest. The group caught up to the creature quickly in the forest, coming to find a beast of hideous design dragging 6 bodies behind it on long, wicked black chains ending in barbed hooks that were buried in the flesh of it’s victims.
The creature was slender, elf-like in it’s build but with long arms ending with taloned fingers and legs twisted in unnatural position. The creature was covered head to toe in a black ichorous armor that seemed made of dried tar. Black and insideous, it ended in hooked barbs throughout the arms and chest and just like the flesh golem from before, copper wirest twisted around it’s arms. It pulled a twisted black sword from it’s side, the copper wirest sliding of their own accord into the blade as it crackled with energy. It had sensed the group coming, dropping the chains and turning to meet the challenge, but found nothing.
The group had all managed to turn invisible and avoid detection, but the creature knew something was amiss and summoned yet another flesh golem, identacle to the one they had faced previously. It began smashing through the foliage nearby and Galdoreth felt it prudent to distract it with noises, drawing it around a large rock outcropping as the rest of the group set out their attack on the being that had captured the townspeople and Tempust. Dhurst and Alwyn appeared on either side of it, launching all out attacks on the creature as Alwyn’s friend Caldis stood back firing arrows and casting healing spells as was necessary.
They thought they had the advantage, but the creature they fought simply grabbed up Alwyn, pressing him to it’s hooked chest and Alwyn could feel his vitality slowly slipping away. Still, the group pressed the attack, even as Alwyn was drained. The Golem eventually broke away from Galdoreth and launched an assault toward the group, Caldis bravely stepping in it’s way to give the group time to continue attacking the black creature. With the golem turning it’s attention to the group, the battle became a thing of chaos. Galdoreth and Caldis were relegated to healing, as Caldis took a massive blow from the golem that sent him reeling and it was all Galdoreth could do to keep Alwyn and Dhurst alive during the onslaught.
The creature covered in the black ichor was hurt though, they knew that much. It released Alwyn in a heap on the ground and turned, fleeing into the woods toward the Plungepool. Leaving the group to contend with the poetry reciting golem as it nearly finished off the group. Spells were ineffective and blades did little, but chip away the group did. On the verge of death they finally brought the beast down with a clean swipe by Dhurst that took the creature’s head clean away.
They gathered themselves together and healed the captured townsfolk and Tempust. As they all made their way back toward town they discussed the situation, that the beast had attacked the back of the inn, blowing away the backside and stunning those that saw it’s visage long enough for the golem it summoned to incapacitate them. It unleashed the golem on the town and took it’s prisoners.
Worse though was that they pieced together how the creature came into existance. It was a Kaorti, a twisted and wicked beast from the far realm. One of the creatures the group (except Tempust) had seen on their trip to the far realm. Twisted beings that wanted nothing more than to turn the Material realm into another Far Realm. They had been capturing sentient beings in the Far Realm and it was believed they were running hideous experiments, trying to establish a link to the Material plane to launch an attack and possibly open a rift between the two.
Galdoreth and Dhurst each blamed themselves. Galdoreth for his involvement in initially bringing the group in contact with the Far Realm, believing it his curse to bare and no one elses. Dhurst for the fact that it bridged the two realms by grappling with him in his exodus from the Far Realm, just before the Illithids had “saved” him.
They made it back to town successfully and were put up in the church to have their wounds healed and gather their strength. After a discussion with Gzelder, the group decided that come morning they would set off to Plungepool in attempt to defeat the beast. In the meantime, church acolytes were sent out to warn farmers on the outskirts of town to be wary, or come into town for protection for the night.
Come morning the group made the trek to Plungepool. The hours passed, but as they reached the site of Plungepool they came to the realization that something was amiss. There were no animals, no insects crawling or birds chirping. A dead silence, broken only by the rush of water that grew louder and louder as they came upon Plungepool. When they saw the swirling drain of Plungepool, where the river dumped into the believed unending chasm in the middle of the King’s Forest, they found dozens of those black chains affixed to three massive boulders surrounding the pool, creating a suspended anchor point above the whirlpool in the middle of plungepool, with dozens more chains dangling down into the watery darkness below.
It took only a few moments of investigating before Dhurst set to work breaking away the chain anchor points. That was enough to set off the creature as two of the flesh golems appeared, reciting their poetry with joyful glee as they went to work against the group.
With Tempust there to aid, the group found the fight a bit more balanced, or at least tld have if it weren’t for fighting two of the massive golems at the same time. Instead, Galdoreth and Tempust found their magics largely ineffective against the creatures as they pounded away on Dhurst, Alwyn and Caldis. Caldis drew away one of the Golems, then Tempust summoned a fire elemental to keep it budy while Caldis ducked behind a rock to heal himself, the rest of the group set upon one of the Golems even as it grabbed Galdoreth and flung him aside, sending him crashing into the Plungepool’s wicked current.
It only took a moment for Tempust, who had since used a fly spell to get above the fight to survey the situation. They were in dire straights, and Galdoreth was likely going to be pulled down into the current of Plungepool. So he landed and cast another spell to change places with Galdoreth, leaving Galdoreth standing and sputtering water feet away from the pool.
The fight continued and the fight was desperate as they managed to cut down the first golem, just as the second one powered through the fire elemental that plagued it. Tempust had managed to bathe both golems in fire, slowing them considerably which turned the tide of battle and gave the advantage back to the group.
Although battered and beaten, the group found that they had the advantage, and wanted to press it. Only the creature they were hunting hadn’t appeared yet. Although with the fall of the first golem, that changed. It crawled from the Plungepool, standing and pulling it’s blade. The group decended on him with full force, everyone casting spells, swinging blades or firing arrows. The creature had other plans though, grabbing Dhurst against it just as it had done with Alwyn earlier. The battle raged, and eventually Dhurst broke from it’s grasp just as Galdoreth rushed in and grappled with the creature from behind. The wrestling match ensued as everyone else pushed home blade and spell, and Galdoreth was surely on the losing side of the fight.
Things changed quickly when the creature fully caught hold of Galdoreth, it’s black facemask thinning and it’s twisted eyes locking with Galdoreth’s own. As the battle continued, every wound that the creature suffered, so too did Galdoreth. They shared the wounds, even as they continued to struggle in their grapple. Whatever fell magic allowed the creature to link with a victim like this was beyond that of the Material plane, something foul and twisted that only a being of the Far Realm could manage.
Galdoreth would not risk his companions in the fight that he believed of his creation though, and mustered all his willpower to turn the tide of the grapple just long enough to send both of them over the edge of the Plungepool. They disappeared into the whitewater just as the remaining flesh golem set upon the group once more.
Tempust wasted little time, turning and flying down into the Plungepool after his companion. The rest of the battle waged, the group on the brink of death as the flesh golem cut through them with wicked precision. Under the waters of the Plungepool Tempust raced, flying past the chains which it turned out were dangling living creatures at varying lengths down into the dark depths. The Plungepool cavern was a pit that didn’t seem to end, but Tempust flew on, spotting his companion and the creature he fought tumbling through the air. They seemed to be partially insubstatial, and Tempust could think of little to do to help his friend.
So he cast a spell he had only just believed was within his power, something he had never tried before but had prepared for a situation just like this. The spell was launched, breaking through the Kaorti’s magical defenses and just like that, he was a brook trout, floundering in the air as he fell endlessly through the Plungepool. Thinking the battle won, Tempust reached out to grab Galdoreth, but he had already faded from the Material realm, his body a liquidous soup that broke apart into water as Tempust touched him. He was gone. Thinking the battle over and feeling defeated, Tempust gathered two falling rings from the air that the creature had been using and started to fly up, stopping along the way to rescue the creatures and people dangled by the chains, transporting them via dimensional door well away from the Plungepool.
Even with the defeat of the Kaorti, the golem persisted. It continued it’s attack, dropping Dhurst with a vicious attack and nearly killing him. Alwyn and Caldis only barely managed to bring it down, the entire group laying strewn about the blood stained grass as Tempust came out from the Plungepool.
They had done it, they had defeated the intruder from the Far Realm, but at the cost of a friend, and nearly the death of another.