Duke Raus took the news of possible chaotic activity, more than just broos, in his lands at Rabbit Hat with little humor. He instructed the PCs to clean out the place, and to aid them sent with them Dranbar Chaosknower, a Lhankor Mhyte expert in chaos lore, Gorkin Rockbone, a Flintnail rock dwarf whose experiences as a pestle (don't ask) had scarred him for life, and the beautiful Marcilla, a High Healer of the White Lady. The party set off for Rabbit Hat with some trepidation and wondering whether Subodai's chaos-killing skills might have protected him. On the way, Grom noted that Marcilla would occasionally speak to a butterfly that flitted around her, and the dwarf would occasionally talk about not letting his secret out.
Marcilla quickly confirmed that the farmstead had suffered the depredations of worshipers of Malia, the mistress of disease. She cleansed the well and the headman's house, which Darnbar noted had also been converted into a shrine to Primal Chaos itself. The party then prepared itself to examine the tunnel they had found earlier.
Gorkin muttered and fussed his way to arranging a pulley system to allow for a safe descent down the tunnel (including a tea break during which he muttered away while eating a can of unappetizing Dwarf Food (TM)). As the party descended, Dranbar examined the tunnel walls, declaring them to have been chewed out of the rock by a Krarshtkid, an awful beast sacred to the Devouring Mother, Krarsht.
The party proceeded with caution down the tunnel, finally coming to a wider cave dominated by a wide, murky pool. On the lip of this pool, Xaraya was distressed to find the headless body of Subodai. Marcilla declared that his head had been bitten clean off. As the party carefully explored the cave, Gorkin slipped and fell in the pool, from which he had to be rescued. At this stage, the first mutterings of "damn, dirty dwarf" was heard among the party. Skye too slipped in to the pool.
The pool turned into a stream, which the party discovered had been dammed and diverted down another Krarshtkid-built tunnel. The party noticed a pile of tarnished silver coins, which they decided not to touch at this stage [GM note - and forgot to come back to], as they proceeded down the new tunnel.
It turned out that the stream entered a hole in the center of a spherical cave, from which several other tunnel radiated out. The party explored one of them, at the end of which was a dead end and two bodies, locked together in their death struggle: a Sun County patrol commander and a chaos-spawned Krarshtkid. Dranbar explained that the gooey strands holding them together were Pratzim, a glue-like webbing extruded by the monsters.
Returning to the spherical chamber, the party heard an ominous sound, as if of something huge slithering towards them from the pool cavern. At the same time, a Krarshtkid emerged from one of the other tunnels, its six limbs propelling it up the tunnel at a frightening rate. It spat Pratzim, covering Gorkin and Skye in the gooey mess. Shortly afterwards, a nightmare loomed into view as a gigantic shelled squid-monster appeared from the tunnel to the pool, its eyes frantic and its maw screaming as if for blood. Grom engaged the Krarshtkid while Xaraya leveled her bow at the beast, Marcilla attempted to free their trapped comrades and Darnbar watched the other tunnel in case of another nasty surprise.
The fight was hard. Xaraya used her skill to shoot the beast repeatedly in the head, while Grom and the others fared less well. The Krarshtkid's tongue, they discovered, bore acid that dissolved their weapons and armor and there seemed to be no end of Pratzim. Eventually, just as it looked like Gorkin, Skye and Grom were all doomed to suffocate in the goop, Marcilla called on the power of her goddess and the Pratzim dissolved to water. Grom and his fellows wasted no time in carving up the Krarshtkid before turning to the squid-beast, which had inflicted severe damage on Xaraya even while taking arrows, multimissiles and speedarts to the head. The beast fell, and the party pulled it to the hole and dropped it down, giving them once again a way back. Marcilla worked her magic on the wounded and the party pulled itself together again.
Moving down the remaining tunnel, the party noticed a hole in the roof. The party once again resolved to explore that later and continued on, keeping a wary eye to their rear. The tunnel ended in a much larger chamber, expanding well beyond the limits of their magical light. The chamber appeared to be a large cube, about 20 meters on each side. In the center of the room was a weird structure; a circular pit surrounded a raised altar of some sort, which appeared to depict a waiting maw. Covering the pit, however, was what appeared to be a net made of human hair. As the party examined this monstrosity, they were surprised again. Simultaneously, a thrown web of Pratzim engulfed Skye and a Krarshtkid descended from the darkness to attack Grom.
Again, the fight was difficult. Grom and Xaraya made short work of the Krarshtkid, although receiving injuries that Marcilla was quick to tend to, but even Gorkin's Earthsense was unable to locate who had flung the Pratzim. A crossbow bolt then came out of the darkness, skewering Dranbar in the head, killing him stone dead. The healer wailed, for she had lost access to her immediate resurrection ability when she had called on her goddess earlier. Gorkin worked out that their undetectable assailant was located on a ledge 10 meters up the west wall of the cube. The attacker then flung out a net over Skye, and began to drag her towards the ledge. At Xaraya's urging, Gorkin pulled out his secret weapons, a Pistole and what he called a grenade. Meanwhile, the Krarshtkid had been healed magically and attacked Grom and Xaraya again. Despairing, Marcilla once again rescued the party by dismissing the magical protections of the enemy. A hideous, cowled individual with a crossbow was revealed. Gorkin tossed his grenade and, following the explosion, the stunned enemy tried over the edge of the ledge and fell to his death. The Krarshtkid followed its master into oblivion soon after. Skye was freed from the net and the Pratzim with some difficulty.
The body was confirmed to be human, if mutilated, with an amulet bearing the chaos rune round his neck, along with a sharp tin razor. The party decided to set fire to the net, in case the pit contained another Krarshtkid. In one corner of the chamber, the party found a series of empty crates, stenciled with a Moon Rune and the legend, "Office of the Commissary of Despatch, Furthest (Duty Paid in Full)."
Gorkin arranged a series of pitons to allow the party to climb up to the ledge. There they discovered a small, portable shrine in the shape of the mouth of Krarsht, made of porcelain. In its central orifice sat a severed human appendage, barely recognizable. Following the ledge around, the party came to other side of the hole they had noticed earlier, with a rope ladder ready to be dropped down it. Further on, they found the tunnel blocked by a large oaken door, thankfully unlocked. Inside was their enemy's quarters. Ransacking it, they found a crate of weevil-infested hardtack biscuits, a crate of the hazia drug, assorted nails, and a complete 12 volume set of the books of Elephantis, a famous work of Pelorian pornography.
Having found nothing more of interest, the party gathered up Dranbar's body and made their way warily back to the surface, Gorkin carefully noting spots where the caves could be collapsed. As they made their way back to Ronegarth, a weeping Marcilla asked the party if they would aid her on a Heroquest to restore Darnbar's soul. The battered party agreed without question.
An Introduction to the Ancient City on the Water
33 minutes ago