Haunter of The Dark

REP has been awarded for this quest.

DM Name: Sorrowdusk

Participants:

Del, Druid 1
Gajendra, Fighter 3
Julietta, Barbarian 1
Yuria Townsend, Human Psion 4

Challenges:
1x Black Mold (CR4)
1x Necrotic Miasma of Madness & Despair (CR3)

1x CR (6+2) "Eztli & Itztli" Half-Fiend Lesser Varrangoin-Chiropteran Hybrid Twins (CR 8)

Experience:
Del 1912 xp
Gajendra 1912 xp
Julietta 1912 xp
Yuria 1700 xp

Treasure:
Payment From Contractor: 2380 gp to everyone.

Material Goods NOTE-PLEASE DIVIDE THIS AMONGST YOURSELVES; discuss in chat or in private, and when you reach a decision, just leave a note in the quest discussion page defining who has taken what so there are no disputes later.

2x Neutralize Poison Potions [750gp Each, or 1500 together]
1x Masterwork Silver Handaxe (1d6-1dmg; Silver; +1MW on atk roll; x3 crit) [396gp]
1x Bundle of Masterwork Silver Arrows (Ammunition -1 on dmg; Silver; +1MW on atk roll; Quantity: 20) [161gp]

8x B.Jung Paintings ( "Bloody Tongue", "He Likes to Watch", "A Land of Confusion", "The Evil Old Man", "Lurker in The Temple", "Stepmother of Abominations", "The Crying Boy", and "The Darkness That Came to Kalmak" {As depicted in the quest gallery}) [ Sell value 90gp each. { Their true value is 2x that, but you wont get that much just selling. A (PC) auction could yield more.}]

{Special Note- Looking at "The Evil Old Man", "Stepmother of Abominations", and "The Crying Boy", you wonder if they form a sort of set of 'family portraits' for Blake. You also note the boy in "He Likes to Watch", who looks on as a ghoul or some undead feeds on a woman, drawing whatever conclusions you do. Those who can make a DC 15 Dungeoneering, Geography, Religion, or similar check can recognize the architecture in "Lurker in The Temple will recognize the architecture suggests a temple to Bast, Pit, or Thoth or some such group of deities of similar major geograpical centers of worship- albeit, no particular deity is suggested. Those who can make a DC 20 Arcana, History, or Planes check will recall an extremely rare book thats been debated as to whether it is fact or fiction- The Doom That Came to Kalmak, and suppose that The Darkness that Came To Kalmak to be a reference to this story. Kalmak is supposed to be a city, but there is no record of its existance anywhere. Among those that have heard of it, most say its a myth or at least its supposed to be myth. No one knows where it is or is supposed ot be, but you have heard people conjecture that it could not be of this world, but some instead other plane. In any case, a terrible fate befell the city, in the form of something said to be unnamable, unknowable, and held in high regard by a cult within Kalmak who organized its downfall. For those who have read The Mysterie of Darke Cultes by Tammuz Talwar-Kadath, they will note he reccomended in his list of further reading -albeit, he did admit he had never read it himself.}

1x Mysterious Box of The Bat Cult [500 gp Sell Value]

An ornate golden box, about 9in x 6in and 4in high with reliefs of two grotesque fiendish faces. Their eyes are three in number and their heads join in the middle where they share an eye, and each is socket set with a single gem, blue, red, and green.The rest of the box is covered in endless twisting, winding vines-though seeing their delicate cross hatching patterns they may very well be criss crossing serpents, though you can find no heads nor tails anywhere. The lid is attatched in such a way so as to slide horizontally while remaining attatched. Inside the box is of bone or ivory dyed with sanguine staining, and there are a set of some sort of inscriptions, in two very different texts, one in Abyssal, the other in Auran. The texts tell a story of its creators. [see the summary].

1x The Blood Star (1350 gp #)

*Looking at the stone, if you touch it a curious arcane influence calls up a nebulous pageantry in your mind. You see processions of robed, hooded figures whose outlines are not human, and look on endless leagues of desert lined with carved, sky-reaching monoliths. You see towers and walls in nighted depths under the sea, and vortices of space where wisps of black mist float before thin shimmerings of cold purple haze. And beyond all else you glimpse an infinite gulf of darkness, where solid and semisolid forms are known only by their windy stirrings, and cloudy patterns of force seem to superimpose order on chaos and hold forth a key to all the paradoxes and arcana of the world you know. Then…all at once your trance is broken by a gnawing fear.

A large deep red gem or crystal, shaped like a cube with 6 pyrimids extruded from its faces. It has strange flowing swirls within that seem to move, appearing and dissapearing. If picked up it pulses with a crimson glow, that the holder quickly realizes is synchronized with their own heart. All who hold or touch it for the FIRST time experience a vision* which both tantalizes and terrorizes the viewer, after which they must make a Will save DC 15 and cower where they stand for 1minute-even if they pass they are still shaken with awe for 1 minute.

Otherwise, it behaves exactly like a [Scrying Shard MIC p. 184] in all ways, but in addition to a Scrying Shards normal detectible aura of divination magic, it also has a detectible aura of Evil of the same caster level, albeit it used to be much higher.

# It is functionally worth no more, nor any more usable than a Scryinging Shard, it may have held other functions or powers, but they are forever lost now. Its uniqueness however may make it sell for more if you find the right buyer -OR much more easily less because of how disturbing most people would find it. If you look hard you could find a buyer that would pay half its value, what you'd expect to get for it…but if you find the right person (a PC) you could get more than half its base value in gp, other goods, or services.

[Special Note- If shattered, The Blood Star would lose its magical power as a Scrying Shard. But, The "Blood Star Fragments" would remain magical for a year and a day, and still carry the vision for each person that makes physical contact for the first time, so long as the pieces are no smaller than 1/7th its original size.]

[Special Note- cleansing it Holy Water, blessing it, and 'usual' means of purifying things only suppress its Evil aura temporarily, and in this state it does not function. The aura does not seem to be harmful, or to interfere in any obvious way such as giving a negative level while held. Remove curse is not effective. Whatever evil magic is in it, seems to be intrinsically tied to its function as a magical focus for divination. And while its divination properties cannot function with its Evil aura suppressed, the Evil magic in it is capable of functioning after its divination properties are gone {as noted above, if only for a year and a day}. Disjoining it or permanently making it nonmagical however, is effective, as is breaking it into sufficently small pieces. {as noted above} ]

[Additional Note- you might be wondering why the 120 gallons of alchemist fire isnt here. Well, as it turns out due to poor preparation,over the half century that went by the alchemicals denatured, becoming quite weak for their volume, making them not of use by anyone. ]



Quest Summary:

The Adventurers had been contracted by an artist and antiquarian, Blake Jung. Blake had his origins in Avalon you've heard, but 1 year ago he moved to a village a few days outside of the city. The place was a quaint collection of cottages not quite numerous enough to be called a town. He resided not in a home of his own, but a rented attic room. They found the address and knocked on the door, and an older woman greeted them. A tennant, she knew Blake, and pointed them upstairs where they found the room with the door slightly ajar. They knocked and were greeted by a "…come in." in a high, cold voice. They crossed the threshold, and entered another room, another world-one of deviltry and morbidity.

Only a real artist knows the actual anatomy of the terrible or the physiology of fear- the exact sort of lines and proportions that connect up with latent instincts or hereditary memories of fright, and the proper color contrasts and lighting effects to stir the dormant sense of strangeness. Looking at his work that lined the walls, they could tell he's just that kind.

Its difficult for them to put words to what they saw, because the awful, the blasphemous horror, and the unbelievable loathsomeness and moral foetor came from simple touches quite beyond the power of words to classify. It looked as though the works were crafted by a nauseous wizard that'd woken the fires of hell in pigment, and his brush was a nightmare-spawning wand. The backgrounds were mostly old churchyards, deep woods, cliffs by the sea, brick tunnels, ancient panelled rooms, or simple vaults of masonry.The madness and monstrosity layed in the figures in the foreground- it seemed Blake's morbid art is pre-eminently one of demoniac portraiture. The figures were seldom completely human, but often approach humanity in varying degree.

There was a half finished painting sitting on an eisel by the window, that depicted yet another unspeakable horror. It was a colossal and nameless blasphemy with two faces fused together, and three glaring eyes, haunting blue, burning red, and bile green. The awful hues in its glare revealed to them a whole spectrum of hate, like a rainbow. It pinned down with a bony taloned foot a thing that had been a man you think, gnawing at the head as a child nibbles at a stick of candy. Its position was a kind of crouch, with strong arms and vast bat-like wings outstretched that melded into the shadows. As they looked on it, they got the sense that at any moment it might abandon its present prey and take flight to seek a juicier morsel. It wasnt even the fiendish subject that made it such an immortal fountain head of all panic- not that, nor the split face with its pointed ears, triple eyes, nor the upturned, flat spade-like snouts, and drooling lips. It wasnt the scaly talons, nor the mold-caked body and patches of fur- none of these, though any one of them might well drive an excitable man to madness…It was the utter inhumanity and callous crudity the work showed in its creator. By the gods…the man must have been a relentless enemy of all mankind to take pleasure in the torture of mind and soul by displaying that and all the others. Then again, the works were not on public disply-perhaps they were his way relieving something torturing him within?

Blake stood facing away, beside his unfished work staring out the window at steel gray sky above a dark green countryside, dotted with little houses. In the distance was a large hill, upon which sat a weathered, ancient church, with high black bellfrey, that cast a long, deep shadow. They heard the low rumble of distant thunder, and caught the sweet smell of a storm brewing.

"…its a beautiful day.", Blake remarked, "I've been gazing all afternoon, but I'm afraid it must give way to night. Which is fine with me, you've arrived just in time."

Blake explained to the party that he wanted them to go up to the old church and dig around in it to see if they could find anything old or interesting, as he an antiquarian as well as an artist. They looked around the place again, and realized indeed there were many old things, stacks papers, scrolls, books and many documents completely covered a small desk, and lined a shelf. Atop that same shelf there are also three humanoid skulls. Two of them were pure and white, of medical specimen quality, the third had been laquered in red, and the top cut away and laid in with a gemmed golden basin making it a suitable bowl or cup.They only noticed them at Blake's mention, they must have been lost amongst all the jarring images. Gajendra sniffed at the cup and noted it smelt of whine. The loxiphant made a quip about where the curious cup had come from, and Blake only said he had obtained it in an auction many years ago. Finally turning away from the window, they could see he was a man of no more than his late twenties, and how pale and thin he was, and took note of a bandaged left ankle, and a temporary cane.

The party inquired about the nature of the church and Blake explained some of its history. It was apparently over two centuries old, and had been empty for the better part of a century. During its history it had passed though several hands, Thothists last he heard. The Tamarists had always had a strong following in the area too, although they had never claimed the church as far as he knew. Blake also mentioned that the townsfolk had grown to distrust him, fear him even. All sorts of ill rumor had apparently spread when just one person saw his work. He suggested the party go by night, so as to avoid being seen by anyone. He admitted the villagers had some air of "superstition" about the place, but didnt seem concerned, and reminded them he would pay them for any piece of antiquity they could find, be that documents or other things. The party finally agreed, still unsure of exactly what they were getting into.

They headed out, and became aware of the fading light -more by the comming storm than by comming eve. Leaving the village behind, and following an unkept road, littered with stones and partially hidden by grass, they made their way to the hill's foot, and climbed the gentle slope to the crest. They looked over shoulders at the village below, and compared it with lay ahead. The churchyard was vacant, with barren, gnarled and terrible old trees no where birds lingered, long, queerly pale grass and nightmarishly misshapen weeds, and cracked or crumbled pots that once lined a walkway to the closed doors.

The party entered the circular building to find it was only semicircular on the inside, the far back of the building having a straight horizontal wall dividing the building into some fraction, and indicating the existence of a partition, and an unseen space that occupied perhaps a quarter of the building. The ceiling was not conical like the roof, but flat, leaving a large potential space above their heads. Eager to explore the party readied their weapons, and filed down the aisle.

Curiously, most of the windows were intact, or at most only cracked. The glass ws stained, depicting red four pointed stars, and the heavens, while the walls seem to be carved with images of flowers, and natural things. There are rows, of pews, all gathered round in a semi circle. In the semidarkness, they could also see gothic chairs, cabinets, and dusty shelving. Those of them that knew something about religion were sure that the iconography was unlike that of Thothists, or any other group they knew. The flora detailed in the worm ridden wood carvings and panneling beneath the windows were distinctly tropical in nature, quite accurate to those with an understanding of nature.

Suddenly some unknown glint caught party's eye, something under one of the pews in the middle of an aisle.

They looked down the aisle, and there in the middle , covered in just little enough dust not to totally hide its sheen was a hatchet…and a hand to go with it. It ws a naked, skeletal hand and all the rest to go with it -human it looked like. And in peculiar state. Some of the bones were badly scattered, and a few seemed oddly dissolved at the ends. Others were strangely grayed, with vague suggestions of charring. This charring extended to some of fragments of clothing that covered the remains. The skull was - stained an awful dun more than the rest, and with a charred aperture in the top as if some…powerful acid or fire had eaten through the solid bone. Yuria shuddered deeply, as the hole in the top of the head, made her recall Blake's Blasphemy by the window, his latest work depicting a man being eaten by a thing feeding on the top of the head like a child on a stick of candy.

The party searched the remains and the inside of the place, discovering many things. At the back of the church there was door with a crude engraving likely made with a knife, it read: "Hear the screames beyonde the threshholde, feel the breathe of helle in thy throat. Mark precious stones with thy names, the stones thy souls. Keepe them in a fire, and they will not be solde. Fooles bar the door, and ready their swordes -they will not escape withoute paying what they owe."

The party also recognized a large roughly 5x5 foot, pannel in the ceiling, some thirteen feet or so up, with a pull cord a feet long. It was high, and they wouldn't be able to reach it with just hand. Gajendra set about lifting the groundling on his shoulders, and then on his hands so she might jump and pull open the trapdoor. Meanwhile, the rest of the party searched the remains and found several things on the corpse. In addition to a silver hatched, there was also a sizable stone, which when cleaned of the soot that blackened the whole thing was seen to be a yellow gemstone, perhaps the size of an eye, etched with the name "Samuel Briskin". Futhermore, there was a pocket book of sort on the body. Lastly, there was a burnt stick they guessed must have been the remains of a torch, useless now without rag or oil, though it might have made a decent club.

The leatherbound pocketbook seemed to be used for keeping notes. A dated order for alchemicals indicated the man, positively identifief "Samuel Briskin" must have gone in about 50 years ago; for whatever reason he desired an alchemist to prepare for him 12 one gallon carboys or jugs of Alchemist's Fire, and recieved them. The pocketbook held much of a puzzling nature, a disjointed text of many short phrases as the following, albeit with one entry longer than the others:

Prof. Enoik Owen home from Heaven's Tear May XXXX (99 years ago) - buys old Church in July - his archaeological work & studies in arcana well known.

Dr. Rowe of 4th Tamarist Church warns against "Keepers of Secrets" in sermon 29 Dec. XXXX. (99 years ago)

Congregation 97 by end of 'XX. (98 years ago)

XXXX (97 years ago) - 3 disappearances - first mention of "Blood Star."

7 disappearances XXXX (96 years ago) - stories of blood sacrifice and cannibalism begin.

Investigation XXXX (90 years ago) comes to nothing - stories of sounds, lights, foul odors.

Cleric Willowick tells of vile worship with a box found in great jungle ruins - says they call up some Thing that can't exist in sunlight. Flees a little sun at dusk or dawn, banished by strong sun. Then has to be summoned again. Probably got this from deathbed confession of F.V.F., joined Keepers of Secrets in 'XX (94 years ago). These people say the "Blood Star" shows other worlds, with it they try to divine unspeakable secrets. F.V.F.'s journal references a Thing awakened and a Blood Star, and insane conjectures about the black gulfs of chaos from which the Thing was called. The Thing is spoken of as offering knowledge, and demanding monstrous sacrifices.

Story of Ulrich R. Freeman XXXX. (86 years ago) They call it up by chanting in a unknown speech, a secret language of their own.

200 or more in cong. XXXX (80 years ago), exclusive of men at front.

Followers of Tamara mob church in XXXX (74 years ago) after Patrick Redbeard's disappearance.

6 disappearances XXXX (67 years ago) - secret committee calls on Mayor Boyle.

Action promised Feb. XXXX (66 years ago) - church closes in April.

Gang - Tamarists - threaten the Prof. - and vestrymen in May.

181 persons leave city before end of 'XX (66 years ago)- mention no names.

Ghost stories begin around XXXX (63 years ago)

Am trying to ascertain truth of report that no human being has entered church since XXXX. (66 years ago)

Truth is hard.

Special Note- those who make a DC 20 History or Arcana check know that Prof. Enoik Owen is a very obscure professor of ancient cultures and arcanum, with a specialization in divination. Among those who know about him, his work is very well known -he was a crackpot.

As Yuria shared these revelations with the others , Del had opened the door in the ceiling. This released a cloud of moldy dust that caused her to choke and sneeze, and even made her noise bleed from one side. Feeling shaky she tried to pull herself up by the wooden slats inside the hinged trapdoor, but as soon as her head breached the threshold, she unexpectedly fonds herself eye-to-eye with sockets empty save for shadow, set in a skeletal face. It smiled at her with a macabre grin, that seemed to cannote an unsettling cheeriness and a keen interest in her demise….

The groundling screamed and fell, thankfully into Gajendra's waiting arms. The skeletal thing hadnt been seen to be animate, although it did appear to have been waiting there for them. Casting a grappling hook this time, Del ascended again, and having identified the mold as a form of black mold destructible by heat or light, she neutralized it with the heat of a torch, saving the rest of the party from any ill effects or a nasty case of mind fire.

The party ascended into the dark, dusty space above. It was circular, as wide as the whole of the building in diameter, and and the height of the ceiling was low enough near the edges that one would have to cralw, and grew to a full 20ft or so at the center of the room. In the center of the space was an iron right stair that spiraled around, with a diameter of 5ft in the open space in between. Flashes of lightning could be seen from outside looking up though the stairs black serpentous coils. It went all the way to the top of the conical room, and higher still into a cylindrical tower that jutted from the center of the churches roof. It was open at the top, bells curiously absent, letting in the rain, and a little wind, and in the middle were a pair of dark windows.

Julia investigated above; looking out onto the roof from the very top, and onto the church yard, it wasnt difficult to imagine the place as looking like of the old church yards from Blakes paintings. In fact…Julia recalled one work in particular, which looked as though it could have been painted from that very view. Hedding back down she discoved a little pot of blue paint still moist and a fine brush, quite new on one of the window sills. Meanwhile the rest of the party down below searched the broken furniture, chairs, and refuse, all shrouded in dust and spider webs. The furniture was decorated with similar motifs as the main room below. There were some slanted shelves of full of broken glass and chipped bottles. Searching them the party found a pair of dusty phials that had survived intact, holding an ounce of a dark green, viscous liquid.

The remains were forensically similar to the other, and quite inanimate -all skulls grin, they cant help it. It seemed the groundling was only spooked. These remains held a bundle of silver arrows and an ancient, cracked bow. The party had become quite suspicious of their contractor, and three quarters of theparty had experienced at least once what it was like to be betrayed by one. The party decided they would have to check the downstairs door with the engraved messege, finding nothing of interest above.

The party quit the room, and returned downstairs to face the door they'd left unopened. The storm was really picking up now, illuminating the stained windows images with bright lightning and buffeting them in such a way so as not to produce a rattle -but instead an unsettling hum, a vile vibration that shakes one, wakes one, and makes one tremble to their very core. Pondering its mysterious messege once more they went ahead and opened the door, and stopped abruptly as they beheld the sudden drop. From the edge of the doorway it was 60ft to the opposite wall, with no floor. Only a rickety worm ridden stair would allow descent into the chuch basement. Though the opposite wall was 60ft away, it did not continue the full 20ft downward tho the floor, but stopped at only 10ft. The basement continued further, but how much further was anyone's guess. The party tied a rope to the doorknob and carefully made their way down. As they did they felt the hairs on the back of their neck stand up, and felt a sense…of impending doom, as though from far, far away something was comming…threatening to come down with the lightning. They would take note of the fact that while spiders and spiderwebs had been seen most everywhere in the background, the basement was noticibly free of them. Along their descent Del noted a hole in the stair- unremarkable in itself as there were many, but this one had dried blood around the inside, still an intense red. It was on the leftmost side of the stair, and it called to mind Blakes bandaged left leg, and the party grew ever more suspicious, and some were sure they had been caught up in a fell scheme.

Reaching the bottom, they were witness to a terrible chamber that lay before them. There was an iron cage that looked like it could hold two large creatures each or a little more than a half dozen men , various torture equipment -thumbscrews, racks, iron pears, tables with iron restraints and various blades, as well as some spiked chains that ended in hooks from the ceiling. It was a little bit of everything one might expect in a torture chamber - even what seemed to be an iron maiden in a corner. There was a furnace with a sack of coal in a corner, with a small heap of coal beside it, with a crucible likely for pouring hot lead. Everything was covered in rust, dust, and very old dark brown-black stains. Scattered about the room were a number of large jugs of dark brown glass, with no stoppers, the necks of the bottles fused by design. It would seem that these, twelve in all, were the carboys of alchemist fire Samuel Briskin had ordered. They didnt seem to be placed with any thought or care, near supports or anything else flammable. If he had any intentions of destroying the place he didnt know what he was he was doing, someone else had put them there, he might have simply been panicked and crazed.

As the party paused to contemplate what they saw, they shuddered as they felt the life flow out of them. It was as though they were standing in a airless vacuumn or in a heatless void, except that it was neither air nor warmth that was drawn away from them. Del recognized it as a form of Necrotic Miasma, a phenomena that occurs when great amounts of pain, suffering, anguish, and fear are bled from wounded psyches, so as to stain more than any amount of blood ever could. It could manifest in many ways from terrible fatigue to spontaneous wounds on the bodying. This miasma created the conditions common folk would call 'haunted', though no actual spirits need linger there, albeit the miasma could attract them. She knew that destroy destroying a structure affected would do nothing leaving the miasma to linger where it had once been, and consecrating it would only suppress the miasma. She wracked her brain, but her thoughts were muddied by the earlier mold, and she could not recall how or if it could be removed. As the party continued to be drained of essence, Julia suggested they get out and run, but it didnt take more than a few more moments for the party to recall the writing on the door frame, and the yellow gem all covered in soot etched with Samuel's name.

"Hear the screames beyonde the threshholde, feel the breathe of helle in thy throat. Mark precious stones with thy names, the stones thy souls. Keepe them in a fire, and they will not be solde. Fooles bar the door, and ready their swordes -they will not escape withoute paying what they owe."

The messege might have been written by Samuel himself, or else it might have been carved by members of the dark cult as a warning to their own who would understand. In either case Samuel knew what to do. He marked his name on a gem, and probably kept it heated by the flame of his torch, keeping him free from harm if indeed he had gone in the basement. He died outside of the basement, so whatever was the source of his demise came from outside. Thinking swiftly, the party used the little pot of paint to write their names on the yellow stone, and light a fire in the furnace placing it near the coals- sure enough they felt the effects of the miasma subside…but still, they could feel its prescense. The party frantic, crazed even to do something, anything about the awful place and its taint decided they would do their best to better position the alchemicals and attempt to set the place alight, not caring to inspect the box or the source of the magical aura inside.

As they made their hasty preparations, perhaps not unlike Samuel might have half a century ago, the building shook and they the heard the roar of the storm, and something else… There was a lound whump of something impacting the roof high above, then a series of bangs followed by the clangs of the spiraling iron stair, and an airy, rhythmic flapping sound. Something was descending upon them. The party braced themselves for whatever was comming…and then the flapping sound grew, and some…some thing flew into the basement. Blake's winged horror on canvas was now flesh -NO! It was not made flesh, it always had been flesh. The horror was not drawn from imagination-but from life! What then of all the other, were they too real, lurking somewhere in the dark? How many abominable scenes had he actually been witness to?

"Blake…" It spoke. Indeed the Thing made words! Its speech had two distinct pitches which blended together as if having two different voices, one from each fanged face. It was positively mortifying, and utterly inhuman, unearthly, eldritch- an eloquent abomination.

"…has always held a fascination with the dark, even when he was a child. Blake's romance with our lords began long before he ever knew they had incarnations outside the realms of the mind. Our lords watched him, through their Eyes for many years. Our lords are that at which cats prick up their ears at midnight, that which makes hounds bay at the moon, that which fills dreams to the brim with fright. In truth, more than anything else, our lords are lords of primal fear.

Now as a man he labors in his study, writing chilling works of poetry and prose, collecting macabre antiquities, but most of all-crafting masterfully grotesque works of art in his studio. Naturally living in this village, he heard of lore and legend of a dark heresy. Watching from his window, he looked upon the hill and looked on this place many times, longing to see if it were true. Are not the tales of travellers and bards notoriously false?

He went in in the dead of night, but when he found the ancient corpse he grew not afraid but excited, and so he pressed on into this basement. He had researched well, and understood the pervasive aura that now permeates this space. He knew how to bypass it, make his way safely without being consumed. He found the box, and curiosity wouldnt let him leave without opening it. Discovering the star, by that of course we mean the Blood Star, he absconded with it, and took his treasure back to his north attic room, rented in that quaint little place that has such a wonderful view of the church. He studied, he gazed, and he pondered the star day and night incessently, skipping his meals not unlike The Fasting Prince that was our father. It is neither hands nor tongues, but desire that calls us. We know desire. We know passion. His desire was strong…"

Julia tensed and charged the thing, and the others followed suite joining in the beginning of a battle. The creature defended itself, conjuring a cloud of unholy blight that made their flesh decay from the inside out, covering them with sores. Del did her best to help the party recover from their unnatural wounds. Even in combat, the creature continued to speak unharried.

"On its own, the star is but a focus for divination, not a spectacular treasure though not a cheap or common one at all. If the Star is the Map, then WE are the key and the gate, the openers of the way, the lurkers at the threshold -and our lords The Source. As long as we exist- we are the connection between the earthly star and the beyond, the conduit between the two. Blake's desire called to us and through the Star we sent him a dream that came from our lords. He knew when he stirred from his sleep, that his nightmare held all he required. He called us forth. We asked him what he desired…though we already knew his mind. He answered and we gave him what he wanted, a source of inpsiration for a new work. An unspeakable, unnamable horror to serve as his next subject. Memories blossomed in his mind where before there were none and then he knew just what it looked like, down to the most minute detail.

For weeks would he struggle to paint it into existence, to recreate what he saw. We never said that it could be reproduced, only that he would have it. If you are wondering about that little 'daydream' you might have seen by touching the stone, that is but the faintest glimmer of what we can show, and seen through heavy veils. If you've witnessed, we are sure it was vivid for you- but you have seen nothing, and the nothing you have witnessed was blurred and obscurred. You cannot imagine what it is to see it sharpened to crystal clarity. It was also free…and hardly a secret compared to what we can show. What Blake recieved from us has a price, the price of SACRIFICE. He must pay what he owes. He shudders with fear, knowing we know his thoughts, knowing we will come for him if he does not pay his due.

He must make the sacrifice himself, he knows what to do. We do not make sacrifices. We only brook them on their journey into the dark. We even offered to make it simple for him, to find a sacrifice and keep it here for him until he was ready to follow through. We know his thoughts, and to tell the TRUTH…thats why he sent you here. He went back into the chamber below, and tried to return the star, he made all sorts of other offers, even to put our visage to canvas. We declined- we told him we would accept a only work on a canvas of flesh, painted in acid, or carved with sharp implements. Now he has some notion that we might kill you and accept you as offerings to our lords, that we might leave him alone…that we might keep our prescence out of his mind, free of his waking nightmares.

He also has notions that you might kill us, or send us away. We cannot go empty handed. Blood must be sprayed, flesh must be peeled, and psyches must be flayed. And terror, fear, horror must stain the walls of this sanctuary- in ways the eye could never see. Perhaps we will assist him by subduing you, and tempting him to follow through, to finish what he's started. Even with the madness that threatens to take him now, he is still secretly hungry to see more. He will give in, its only a matter of time."

At this point Yuria had had enough of listening to the chatty horror, and darker side awakened in her, one that would enjoy seeing it hurt very much. Conjuring a hailstorm of crystal razors she overchanneled her powers made it bleed- and how! Seing its black blood she laughed maniacally, as something unseen stirred in the darkness of Gajendra's insides, and indeed stirred up the darkness in him too. Retaliating at the loxophant, the mutant's twin gaping maws loosed a strident scream of wild plasma -like the lighting, surrounded by a stream of black chaos matter, seething and roiling darkness that dissolved the flesh like acid or perhaps… even disordered and unmade it. Gajendra was nearly knocked to his feet, but stood and struck back with the Axe of Relegore, enraged and spurred on by something within. Del moved in and tried to reach for the creature while it was destracted to deliver some spell, but she couldnt touch it in its chaotic movements. Nearly dead now, the horror admitted that it saw much potential in the elephant man and the blue haired girl, offering to give them a chance to know the unknowable, to see the unseen as it professed they were more valuable to its lords than Blake. Before either of them could refuse or retort, Julietta put the nightmare down with one final blow.

The party breathed a sigh of relief, but just when it seemed it was over…the creatures luminous eyes flared not life, but deathroes that threatened to consume them all. Its form disintegrated from the now uncontained powers within, its mouths and open wounds filled with darkbrite, corpse light, and shadow sheen. The burst washed over the group, knocking them down, and incapacitating Del. Fortunately, while they were all seriously hurt, and some brought to the brink of death, none of them had perished. Though they had warded themselves from the necrotic miasma, all the while they continued to feel its prescence- until now. Like a black tide it receded, pulling away from them, and dissapearing altogether. There was a loud CRACK -not of the thunder overhead, but the stone alter shattering behind them. Crumbling, it dropped the mysterious box onto the floor, which came open letting The Blood Star within roll out. Examining the box with closer detail, they saw that it had inside, an inscription written in two very different languages. One of them was Abyssal, which Yuria could read. She read it aloud, recounting the history behind the box, The Blood Star, and their creators…

Ancient Inscription Within The Mysterious Box

It was in the 12th year of Momoztli that Great Warrior Hun-Came (lit. "One Death") lead our tribe into battle and made us victorious over our enemies. No longer did we venerate Ahazu, nor further did we seek to join him in Shattered Night. Hun-Came dedicated that victory to new gods, The Savage Twins.
By the will of our new gods did we sacrifice our former leader and did we raise Hun-Came up, and from the bones of Momoztli did we build a box and boil it in his blood. And we melted down his jewelry and layered it in gold, setting it with flawless stones. As commanded by Hun-Came, so was made on earth what was made in dream and vision. We placed Momoztli's heart within, our first offering, and sealed it shut. And then was it set upon an alter within our temple, to be opened at appointed time. For seven generations did it remain, and for seven generations did Hun-Came's line rule, and for seven generations were we faithful to The Savage Twins, Hethradia and Ameul.
It was in the 1st year of Vucub-Came (lit. "Seven Death"), that The Savage Twins sent Vucub-Came a wife. She descended from a stormcloud and was a beastly beauty, and none were more savage nor seductive. Her name was Ichtaca, and she did make all females envious of her, and males envious of Vucub-Came.
Surely he was most deserving by virtue of his line, and by virtue of his faith. None were more faithful than he, so much so that he was also called Nezahualpilli (lit."Fasting Prince"). In the following season Ichtaca bore his children, twins whose whose visages were made in bone and layered with gold by our people seven generations before. She named them Eztli and Itztli (lit. "Blood" and "Rite-Knife"). Ichtaca having fulfilled her role as Vucub-Came's Queen took flight again, ascending with her children and dissapearing into a stormcloud. Now was the appointed time.
Vucub-Came gathered the tribe, and unsealed the sacred box. There within had Momoztli's sacrificed heart been transfigured by strange alchemy into a star, just the same as if it had be snatched from the void overhead. But this star was red, and twinkled with the pulse of blood. Vucub-Came communed with The Savage Twins, and by his divination did we learn how call our own twins- the sons of Vucub-Came, who returned full grown and served our gods as Keepers of Secrets. By this strange star did our priests have fantastic visions, that did instill such great madness and religoius fervor. And by Eztli and Itztli were our endless sacrifices recieved, carried on his wings beyond the threshold.
Since then has our outcast tribe stood out amongst the other tribes of our race, and indeed our race gained noteriety amongst the fliers. We Chiropterans rule the night, but our tribe is more ambitious than the others, and so do we have designs to rule a night eternal and tear the wings from the Avian kings, and wallow in their entrails. Our tribe shall rise and never fall, we shall reach higher and higher so long as our offerings continue to slake The Savage Twins, and as long as we hold the sanguine star. And we shall do both, forever and ever.

[Special Note- Those who can make a DC 20 Religon or Planes; they recognize Ameul and Hethradia to be on of the names given to the twin headed fiend known throughout the Abyss as 'Demogorgan, holder of a most coveted title 'Prince of Demons'. His cult is strongest perhaps in the jungles of Heaven's Tear, and it was cultists of this region that gave the name 'Ixitxachitl' to his favored breed of demonic servitors. Those who can make a DC 25 Planes know he has created many bizzarre demon-hybrids through arcanum and breeding programs in a laboratory-fortress built into a rock formation called 'The Scabwash' in his realm of 'Gaping Maw'. It would not at all be surprising if Vucub-Came's Queen was born there, with the soul purpose of being sent to the material plane to join with Vucub-Came, who served as the catalyst for Eztli and Itztli's birth.

[Special Note-Those who can make a DC 25 Planes know Ahazu to be an obscure demon lord, Ahazu 'The Seizer' or 'The Void Prince'. He is said to have a vaguely bat like form composed of shadow. He happened upon a layer of the Abyss he dubbed Shattered Night and dug into the plane searching. Eventually he reached the bottom and found a impenetrable membrane that was transparent, showing a void. He dug more and more shafts of what to mortals were of unfathomable depth in the plane, and in strange eons he finally happened upon a breach. Entering this breach he never returned. In time though, followers chiefly the Varrangoin -not demons, but intelligent magical beasts bearing a resemblence to bat-folk, began to worship him. They dumped sacrifices into the hundreds of thousands of holes which became known as the now famous 'Wells of Darkness'. Ahazu could control the membrane now, sucking and seizing any witihn reach, although he chose not to leave either because he couldnt or didnt want to. His followers built a great and mighty they called 'Overlook'. However, they became too ambitious, too greedy and tried to capture demon lords for their master. This failed utterly and lead to an invasion that toppled their castle, and shattered the cult. It was only much later that some cults began to gather around him again. The Wells of Darkness is also a prison today. Several dethroned ex-Abyssal Lords have been throne into the Wells of Darkness, and it is only by a strange form of telepathy that it is confirmed they are not destroyed -many other cults than his own come to the Wells of Darkness to throw in sacrifices dedicated to fallen lords in hopes they may rise again. The followers of Ahazu that are left, believe he is only biding his time out of reach of any enemies, and with enough sacrifices he will become a deity over kidnap and rape, and rise as to take back Shattered Night, and then all of the Abyss.

The party emerged from the church, and passed into a now gentle rain that washed the dust and the gore from their clothing. They returned to Blake, who was relieved to know that his adversary was dead. He apologized, and admitted that he had decieved them, leaving the fiends existence unmentioned. He had hoped that they might kill the creature when it returned to its lair from wherever it had went, as it had promised it would see him again that night. And…perhaps in his desperation he did hope that if they did happen to die, that the nightmare might be appeased anyway. As it had told them, he had investigated the church in the dead of night, discovered The Blood Star, and with the knowledge gained from his dreams he called up the thing. He explained that he wanted to know true fear …and indeed he got what he wished for, not knowing the heavy price of blood that would be set.

"I admit it, I was a fool and it was a fools bargain. Still…what haunts me truly, is not the unnamable, unpaintable horror that persists in my head, more than that is this personal horror of this whole experience that has plagued me for months now. That personal horror is the greatest nightmare that can be experienced, far more terrifying than anothers fears conveyed by prose or picture, is the nightmare that one lives. It can take many manifestations from the extraordinary like my own, to the 'mundane' like that of a life in the slums or in a war torn country. The lords, I daren't say 'gods'-for that would be blasphemous beyond even my measure- of that cult are personal horror incarnate…

Pray to all space you may never meet them in their thousand other forms."


Soundtrack

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJLZ3XiDkqs 0:00-3:40

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFOXJ3uy4To&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdbxfQFF_FI&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3g36hrQ_nNI&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQJbnVziB4c&feature=related


Quotes

Art Gallery or Adventurers can be Cultured Too

Gajendra would not be impressed by the art, presumably whatever contract he had signed on to was more than taking a look at some repressed weirdo's ejaculate on canvas.

@Yuria 's heterochromatic eyes took all of this in as she entered with the remaining party member…a managerie of the grotesque and of a sickened mind and spirit. Much like herself, the imagery caused her to wince, but something in her subconsious giggled…reveled…laughed…exhulted…

While examining a skull cup.

Gajendra@ "Looks expensive, someone you liked, or hated I'd guess for you to want to be drinking out of their head.." 6he didn't seem perturbed by the concept of it at all, black eyes flicking up from the skull

And Then They Start Wondering
<Juli> "If we get in so easy… what stop artist from coming here himself?" she had to admit this was all too easy in of well they met no resistance.

All in a Day's (Night's?) Work
<GideonKalveJarvis> "Okay," said Del, looking up at that ominous structure beyond the gates. "That does *not* look family friendly to me. But," she reached forward, and pushed the doors open, if possible, "I guess somebody has to make the world a better place, one zombie-infested crypt at a time."

Arent They The Darndest Lil Arsonists or Call of Cthulhu 'Lets Dynamite It' Syndrome

[02:56] <Gajendra> 14"Everyone get out, lets burn this place to the ground…" 6he would blink as Del thought the same thing, he'd help her, but not knowing what the fuck he was doing or why he wouldn't object to someone stopping them
06[02:56] * @Yuria stops Del: 4: "I can set it on fire from a distance." she says, 4, "Lets set up the alchemist fire and torch this place."

When the Good Guys Start to Beat You…Offer Them The Chance To Join You?

Gajendra snarled savagely, something in his gut twisting in response to the pain, in response to that sickening that he had been affected by in response to the flood of damage this monstrosity poured over him that nearly drove him to his knees amidst the torrent of lightning and darkness, his armour glowing from the heat he would charge forward and spit his defiance like blood into the beasts face <C>
<Gajendra> <Co> as the greataxe swung hard for another strike, eyes going bloodred as something twisted sharply in his gut and gave way. <C>

@Yuria smiled…a small expendature of power to learn about the creature…its strengths and weaknesses…she didn't give a shit if she hit someone else, but this…would hurt. Extending her hand outward a gust of wind would leap from her hands and plow into the monster, sending thousands of razor sharp crystals at it. It it hit…(Crystal storm, Overchannel)
[03:46] <@Yuria> 4 "Hahahahahah!" she giggles with glee as she makes the monster bleed.

<GameMastaTam> "I sense the potential in you two.", he refers to the loxiphant and the blue haired girl , "I hold the knowledge of ages…if you would but patron my lords, they could off so much. You have much more potential than Blake…."

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