”Thanks for your help, I thought I was finally going to sail off on Kroth’s longship. I’ve come into these mountains every year for nearly a quarter century. Never seen anything out of the ordinary between Yssa and the priory. But this year it was different. We passed through Culcheth and there was a palpable tension in the air. As we ascended toward Yssa, we saw nothing but devastation! We ran into the woods toward the camp, not realizing that had been the direction these. . . things!. . . had merged from. We met with many struggles and one point my own boy was overtaken. There was nothing I could do.
I made it the rest of the way to Broken Shield and barely caught my breath for a short rest before the camp was swarmed those beetles and one particularly nasty giant one. I fled toward the priory but realized I was being followed. As soon as dusk was upon me, they got closer and closer. That’s when you arrived. . . ."
- Acian traveled here from Paertk
- He was about a week behind the king’s men
- He got to Yssa when the zombies and beetles had overtaken the town
- He and his son fled toward Broken Shield, unwittingly running straight into the thick of them
- After several struggles, Acian’s son was overtaken
- Acian had to run; he couldn’t save his son
- He arrived at Broken Shield to tend to wounds and rest
- He got into a fight with some beetles and one of the giant insect things
- He fled toward the Priory before he realized he was being followed
- The PCs found him here
Arriving at the Priory
Several long hours of hiking through a rocky wilderness, you emerge from a narrow pass and see your destination in the distance. A large stone monastery juts out atop a gentle plateau, surrounded by several bare gardens, long since harvested. In the distance to the northwest of it an immense stone colossus towers from a copse. The enormous statue appears carved from red rock stained black, as if scorched by some otherworldly conflagration. It depicts a large bat-winged being with the head that can only be described as a cross between a grim-faced human and a dragon. In one hand it clutches what looks like a crystal orb and in the other it holds aloft some sort of bowl or brazier from which thousands of carved beetles stream down its arm, covering it completely.
The priory itself is silent and still, its tall alabaster-shaded walls appearing scorched and the long tapestries that billowed down from either side of the entrance shredded beyond recognition. Its large wooden entrance doors are similarly scorched but otherwise appear to stand tall and solid.
As you take in the scene, the still air is suddenly cut with the muted shriek of a man in sudden pain, echoing through the valley but seeming to come from within the monastery itself!
The PCs approached the side doors and found them locked. They picked the locks and snuck inside, facing a row of three doors on the north and a single door western side. They peeked through one of the sets of northern doors:
You peek through the doors toward the source of the pained cries. Within is a large chamber—clearly the monastery’s main worship chamber—lined with columns and lit by a pair of braziers on the far side which flank a raised dais. On either side of the room stand two huge creatures. Their features are ape-like but their hides interlaced with coarse reddish fur and grayish scales, their heads topped with a fierce gorilla-like face with fanged maws and crowned with large horns like those on an elk.
Further away are two more large creatures, humanoid in shape. Unlike the ape-like creatures they appear to have no hide at all—or even skin. Instead their muscles, sinew, and bone are all readily visible to your eyes, painting a gruesome picture of their grim aspect. They have bulging muscular arms that end in wicked-looking claws and their heads have only the semblance of skin with cruel, pupil-less eyes, and faces smeared with a reddish ichor. Large horns like that of a yak jut out from the sides of their heads.
All four of these creatures’ attention is focused toward the dais, upon which rests a defiled altar. A young man is splayed face-up across it, his limbs chained down at an awkward angle while another creature that looks less humanoid and more like the cross between a lobster with a squid’s head plunges barbed tentacles into the doomed man’s torso, his shrieks echoing off the chamber as the other creatures chant in low, raspy voices. Last you catch a glimpse of a familiar face: Mata, the king’s diplomat. He stands at the side of the chamber clutching some shackles and watching the ritual with a combination of stone-faced stoicism and the occasional flash of fear and disgust. As the ritual starts to draw toward it’s messy conclusion, Mata fingers a brass amulet around his neck and then quietly steps backward through a set of side doors.
- Tenebrious speaks the abyssal language can make out the chant:
“Grant us power, Agadaroch. Come and drink deep the blood of the fallen and spread your essence across this doomed land!”
- Tenebrious’ nethermancy knowledge revealed the following: Agadaroch is the name of the Amaric prince of plagues, one of the original 12 Amara that served as jailors and then betrayed the Elder Gods and served the Nameless One.
- History knowledge: The 12 Amara were responsible for the Bloodgate Wars, a war that spanned Kharkaethia, sundered the world, and plunged it into a long dark age. It was only through the efforts of 12 champions who locked the Amara in the Abyss, using their own blood to seal the gates. These champions were later elevated to godhood over time by the people who came from their own lands—though the Order of the Twelve Virtues venerates them all.
The PCs fought the five demons and prevailed. They searched the monastery and found Mata hiding on the second floor on a veranda. They also found the monk Makarka locked in a cell, the last remaining monk of the Priory. Makarka and Mata were both questioned. Mata attempted to lie but was intimidated by Golganar into explaining himself.
FACTS FROM MATA
- Mata tells the PCs he was approached by a dark figure several months ago who claimed that another kingdom would be making war with Athkaria
- The figure informed Mata that the king would soon perish and without an heir, Mata would be next in line to take the throne
- If Mata ascended to the throne, he would be able “negotiate” a truce with the invaders
- Mata would therefore need to ensure that their allies never intervene, so he went to Vene and Calinthia under the guise of a diplomatic mission but instead declared he was cutting up all their treaties.
- An assassin came in the night to attempt to kill the king but was sabotaged
- Mata was to do everything in his power to send the men most loyal to the king to their doom
- Once the king sent for others, Mata again tried to arrange for the helpers (the PCs) to also meet their doom
- Mata followed the PCs to Culcheth, where he realized more was going on than he suspected
- He took a different route to the Priory, where he encountered the dark figure—the piscodemon
- The piscodemon assured Mata they were indeed “invaders” and would only need to be allowed to pass through Athkaria to some other goal
- There are no treaties; it was all a ruse. The Wise Ones have descendants but are under no obligation to help
FACTS FROM MAKARKA
- Makarka was locked in the chambers above
- Makarka explained that the statue started darkening a couple of months ago, but assumed it was due to the heavy storm weather they had recently
- The area started having strange issues with wildlife and weather a few months ago
- A week ago, the statue changed into its current appearance, and real beetles started pouring from the top of it.
- The beetles swarmed the priory, soon followed by the demons, who quickly overtook it.
- The monks were quickly rounded up and locked in the various chambers. Every day another would be sacrificed on the altar below.
- Makarka said beetles quickly took off to the south and that’s the last he saw of anyone
- Makarka will point out that the last sacrifice will be enough to render the portal open permanently and the Amaric prince will emerge
- He fetches the ritual scrolls hiding in a secret cache.
- The ritual can be used to banish Amaric Princes through portals that their servants in the Seventh Domain open.
“Friends, we must approach the standing stones where I will prepare a special pitch. This pitch must then be delivered to each of the braziers in the copse. All the while I will need protection while I perform the ritual and will need help channeling the power."
All that remains is to help Makarka seal the Bloodgate once again.
Cloak of Distortion – Tenebrious
Frostcharger Bracers – Golganar
Demonbinder – Tenebrious
Amulet of the Diplomat – Gimble
49 pp, 138 gp, 18 sp, 20 cp – Kophyn
50 pp + 2 rubies (2,000 each) – Alain