Raven’s Keep: Recap Part 2

The Depths of Madness, the Descent

Having discovered the existence of a hidden undercity, a historical abnormality that most of the locals have little knowledge of and even fewer care to recall, you have descended into Hatram’s Boot’s ancient, mysterious, underground; into the forgotten lair of the townships most famous citizen, its founder, long-dead Baron Rindaelle. He was the first baron of Tinar and Ailbe Murchadha’s first apprentice. As a boy, Rindaelle served the oldened mage, Ailbe faithfully, even though the mage often mistreated the boy and derisively referred to him only as ‘Dog’, but in the end, the boy got the better of the mage, whom is now better remembered as the Fishermage.

The Fishermage’s life’s goal, had been the capture a legendary creature known as the Fish of Wisdom. The legend says, at the dawn of time, a twisted aberration called an aboleth ate seven hazelnuts that had dropped into the river from the great tree Yggdrasil and gained all the knowledge contained in the Seven Realms of Man, and that the fish never truly dies, but rather reincarnates at random intervals separated by centuries as marked by the stars, reoccurring throughout eternity as it travel through those seven realms gaining knowledge of all that comes to pass. Hence, the Fish of Wisdom never really dies, but it does need to be renewed, at that time perhaps once or twice a millennium … if captured and eaten, it grants great insights and knowledge to any creature that might consumes it. Having waited a lifetime, Ailbe Murchadha was cheated after he’d finally captured the fish, only to lose the boon of infinite knowledge to his young apprentice. Afterwards, Rindaelle capitalized on his gift of knowledge, using it to become a great hero and the first Baron of Tinar.

Rindaelle’s new found intellect and the curiosity it garnered came at a steep price. His curiosity became both unquenchable and undying, so much so that it speared Rindaelle recklessly headlong into the age-old pursuit of certain unknown and forbidden studies better left untrodden. It would have been more merciful if this knowledge had remained lost; if indeed, the Wildlands had stayed lost, adrift amid the churning black seas of infinity. It was not meant that Naessa should voyage far, but the Baron’s study soon led to the creation of the secretive cabal of templars called the Kaorti, and which them he pieced together enough of the previously dissociated knowledge available to open a terrifying new vista of reality that had until that moment been closed to any inhabitant of Naessa. Knowledge of a type to drive men mad from its revelation or to send them screaming to an early grave.

Having discovered that the quaint town of Hatram’s Boot’s sits atop the ruins of Rindaelle’s secret abode. The survivors of the Keep’s expedition, Sayberion, Brand, Allison, and Karis, joined be recently discovered construct, AE-615, a robot storing the consciousness of another of Raven’s Keep’s survivors, you have now descended into the sewers in pursuit of kidnapped townsfolk and your fellow explorer Nyssa, whom is counted among the town’s missing, but it is not only these people you seek, but also the blue crystal called the Tear of Majere.

These things have now become interwoven, somehow tied together in ways that to date remain unclear, but even so, the connections of which, are ever more evident. Your descent begins normally enough, with a feeling of dread hanging about the place, as if something is horrible is about to happen. The air is damp and still, and a rotting stench fills the air as you find yourselves trudging through dark water-filled passages, disgustingly wretched, filthy water that carries raw sewage and other less easily described refuge, potent enough to kill rodents as evidenced by several horribly bloated, furry dead bodies you have spotted drifting amidst the other waterlogged debris.

The normalcy fades as the stench intensifies in the stretch of the tunnels that take on a different, more beautiful, but also more sinister appearance; the plain tunnels are transformed with the addition of statuary, odd carvings of serpents and forgotten, ancient gods … The sense of dread rises in your mind like the bile collecting in your throats, dread born of the expectation of hidden threats that you know must be waiting in the tunnels ahead.

Just beyond, as the sewer returns to its more familiar appearance, a wretched creature rises before you. It looks like a gigantic lobster armored by a green plated exoskeleton, and with a nest of pink tentacles writhing just below its head and two massive, wickedly serrated pincers. Sayberion advances, but staggers, a victim of a sudden, unexplained vertigo. The monstrosity charges snatching him up in its massive claws and deposits him forcefully back into the mucky water of the sewer where he immediately begins drowning. A battle ensues, the first monster, joined by a second. Brand and Allison attacking; Brand launching a dozen arrows into the fray together with Allison’s eldritch blasts, and with the robot, AE-615 pushing the monsters back, until Sayberion recovers enough to join in and finally kill the monsters.

Continuing your advance, you turn left at the intersection of the tunnels. There you find a larger chamber filled with glowing, squirming flora clings to the walls of this area, especially thickly in the chamber’s northeast corner where a large collection of loose debris had been gathered together like massive a rat’s nest, but the room is dominated by a huge, unmoving waterwheel draped in wispy strands of the glowing fungus matter lies half submerged in the waterway; it draw you focus allowing a bizarre trio of weird humanoids to draw close, crouching low, sneaking near as you approach, as the largest, hulking, fourth horror explodes from the nest in an ecstasy of violence. All four of the attacker are hairless and fibrous, their skin spasming tremulously as they confront you; their eyes ablaze, their fangs-bared. Two are emaciated with huge milky eyes looking something like tentacled, skinned humanoids. Another has arms that split at the elbows into two usable limbs giving it a total of four arms, and the last looks like a bloated, but much more horrific ogre with exposed muscle for skin lurking amidst the animated glowing slime of the corner. You recognize their ilk quickly, having faced similar aberration in the dark cave next to the Forlorn Tower.

Another battle follows, even larger than the first, and eventually joined by an even larger chuul, the lobster-like monsters you’d first entered in your approach. Brand fires another dozen arrows, while Sayberion and AE 615 take the fight to the monsters, but in the end, it is Allison’s arcane fire that destroys the monsters clearing your way to forge ahead through the sewer to a narrower passage located just beyond the large chamber where you again turn left proceeding in single file through the narrow hall to descending stairs leading to a natural grotto. The stench is appalling, and in the cavern, lie the carcasses of several large carrion crawlers littering the floor, each head opened for access to whatever passed as the monsters’ brains. Even over the stench of rot, you smell something burning. Deeper in the chamber, something giving off a soft light.

Before you enter, Brand spies out a hulking green, worm-like creature with a tentacled maw clinging and waiting in ambush, on the cavern’s rough ceiling. Oddly, it has a dark collar and seeping wounds in its head.

A battle follows, the green worm, joined by a seconded brownish cousin, equally large, both massive, fat, and grotesquely pulpy, each being over four-foot-long, centipede-like things possessed of over a half-dozen long tentacles protruding from their heads, squirming spasmodically beneath the worms’ monstrous, pincer-armed heads.

The fight breaks out there at the entrance of the cavern, the worms’ massive fat bodies precluding any easy access to the chamber beyond. Again, both Sayberion and AE 615 move to the front to engage the worms. AE 615 uses his weight and power to push his worm back enough to allow Brand enough room to squeeze in to the chamber behind him, but as he does, another, yet unseen assailant nearly takes Brand down attack from behind. Brand spins on his heels just quick enough to see, a small, filthy, dwarf disappear. A bizarre looking fellow, dressed in reeking black rags, wrapping him head-to-toe, leaving only his huge white eyes and his long-pointed nose visible.

Perceiving his Brand’s peril, Allison calls forth strange spirits to protect Brand. They flit around Brand fiercely; angelic-looking sprites that surround and protect Brand, and draw a derisive response from Allison’s impish familiar shouts:

“Oh, how truly pathetic, first you pick on those juicy worms, then all you ‘big’ tough guys team-up on one little fella, and you bring a bunch of pesky fairies to defend yourselves! Damn, maybe I should be worried, who knows, I’m even smaller than that guy … Maybe I should be ‘nicer’ to all of you … Its dangerous being a ‘monster’ these days. Funny, that we are all dying like flies down here, while enjoy yourselves laying hands upon one another while your vicious little fairies wax poetic upon his poor little ass!”

Allison ignores the imp and presses forward, eventually trapping the dark creeper in the deepest end of the cavern and forces his surrender. The poison harvester, for that’s what he is, acquiesces, and offers to lead you to Hatram’s Boots surviving hostages in exchange for his life.