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BLOOD IS FUEL - The Vaults of Torment - Group 2 - [part 1]


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The realm of King Fathmu IX.

Once a powerful and rich nation, now a plundered and impoverished despot state. Those who fail to pay their taxes or repay compulsory credits, the king's men throw into Schleswig's debtor’s prison. The city dwellers call it the Grøbe, a dark pit nobody escapes.

Many people had found their way to the city, whether for tales of getting rich in one of the many gambling halls, or for the tolerance not shown in Galgenbeck, or perhaps even as just a layover to eastern Lake Onda or to the eminently dangerous Bergen Chrypt mountains to the west.

Downtrodden and poor lined the streets, begging for a handout. "Please, spare a coin, the King took everything I had!" came the same message time and time again. With some effort the words could be blocked out, their visages erased, their plights ignored.

A day became a week; a week a month. Soon, everyone that came to Schleswig found themself short of silver. That was when the king's soldiers came to collect. "A tax for enjoying the great many services to be found in this great city," had said the man from behind a spear, metal armor, and a steel helm. Refusal meant being drug off to Verhu-knew-where.


This is where our story begins...almost.

The king's men strode in throngs six and ten thick and armed to the teeth; far too many to fight off alone. So when they came for you--demanding more silver than you had to give by a handful and a half--you were bound at the wrists with thick rope and gagged to boot. They dragged you through the street if necessary.

Or perhaps you never had the silver and resorted to thievery, ending up in a temporary jail cell full of ruff-looking folk. Perhaps you had only the rats as company.

Stranger still, perhaps you walked into the king's throne room alongside the indebted and offered--nay, demanded-- you be let into the pit below.


King Fathmu IX sat upon an opulent and gaudy throne made of black stone with a white marbling running through it; each edge held a facet and was lined in gold filigree. The king barely fit on the seven foot tall chair due to his extreme girth. His royal garb was stained with grease in spots and his chin had long since melded with his neck. Short, brown, dirty hair sat crumpled beneath a pure gold crown a foot tall with rubies set into it.

A belch was released by the rotund ruler, with a half-eaten leg of meat falling onto floor nearby as he seemed to grow bored with it. The king's men shoved some beggars forward. "These debtors refuse to pay your most righteous taxation, oh lord."

King Fathmu lazily took them in and waved his pudgy hand bedazzled by gem encrusted rings. "Put them in the pit," he spat out in between a yawn.

With strong and determined hands, each person's mouth was forced open and a thick, dark paste poured in. They then held the mouth closed and plugged the nose until swallowing.

The floor opened by hand-cranked gears and the soldiers threw them down into the darkness.


Next it was your turn...

One by one the soldiers shove you forward and onto your knees. Your belongings--carts and animals--are toted in behind. "Sire, these travelers have spent weeks in your great city and now refuse to pay the tax to stay. The tax you rightly deserve."

Some of you fight your bonds, others try to scream through the gag--all for naught.

"Throw them into the pit, of course," comes the king's disinterested reply.

"Yes, my liege. And these?" he motions to your belongings.

"Throw it in as well. The Keeper needs goods as well as blood," Fathmu replies, choking back a hiccup attack unsuccessfully.

And like the beggars before you, several men approach and force your mouth open. A dark liquid tasting of bile and rancid meat is poured over your tongue and teeth. Your mouth is then held shut and your nose pinched such that you can either swallow--or pass out and possibly choke to death. Your reflexes make the decision for you and you swallow. Some of you put a show in fighting back and are rewarded with a hard kick in the ribs, knocking the wind from you.

Then, you are all--very much against your will--throw or kicked into the yawning pit in the stone floor. A deep darkness without end meets your eyes.


After tumbling down in the darkness for a half minute or more, the group found themselves unceremoniously dumped onto a floor much softer than stone. In fact, the mushiness of it seemed to have broken their fall and saved them from a nasty end. There was no light, leaving the others sense to carry on. Unfortunately the rank of death and decay was pungent and familiar shapes beneath them suggesting arms, legs and fingers was more than enough to fill in the blanks.

Darkness clung to them as they struggled to get free of the pile of mushy objects, banished only by the promise of torch light at the end of a winding cave.

OOC

The current room is very dark. You have enough low-light to clamour clumsily to your feet and get your bearings. The large room ahead of you seems to have much more lighting. The smell is nearly overpowering you by being so close to mushy pile.

I'll describe more if you go to the end of this cave. Until then--take a moment to gather yourselves.

Below is a map of the area and relatively how far you can see without exploration. You are at the "1" in the top left. You fell down a chute which deposited you just above the "1" via a roughly-hewn hole in the wall.

You have not taken any damage. Your goods and animal friends are miraculously also unharmed. Perhaps scared and bruised, but no HP damage.

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c375ea448a7ea6a5e8c31e5b82284a8c.jpg.1c90cbb04113158a1246761dfb5c39f7.jpgLyrical did not remember how she had come to be in the realm of King Fathmu IX, especially as it seemed that it was not the sort of place that any person would choose to be in. Her presence of mind had been so firmly focused upon moving and using this body - all the while clamping down on the constant hum of pain emitting from the skinless flesh of her upper portion - that the choice had been made by fate, bringing her within the 'enjoyable' gates of Schleswig without aim or purpose. It was not long before her presence was given wide berth, less out of fear (for there were many more terrible things in the world than one like her) but a desire to remain unnoticed. She drew attention, this small-framed, pale woman and her faceless hound.

32a75eb8f13313e7b831d5d420c80c20.jpg.3e0d7058a7d2ea8197281feee1288af0.jpgLyrical looked down at the skeletal visage of the creature that had come, unbidden, into her companionship. Perhaps it was her stuttering steps or some other implication of helplessness that had drawn it to watch over her. Or perhaps this body's original owner was some familiar being to the creature. Regardless, it had allowed her to burden it with the satchels she had collected from those fearful acolytes, bearing some of her weight across the wilderness until they had arrived here. Whether it had guided her, or merely followed, was unclear.

Lyrical did not understand the ache in her heart as she looked upon the downtrodden folk of this miserable place. It felt like a poorly consumed meal, or a turned draught of water, stirring her chest and stomach... except with emotion rather than acid. It had been a long time since she had felt an emotion and while familiar, it was just outside the understanding of her still-forming sense of self. Around this time, she stood staring at a cluster of people clambering over one another to get away from the street when a hand took hold of her arm roughly, made demands that she could hear clearly but not exactly comprehend. The vacant gaze given the guards must have been taken as resistance, for she was ushered away immediately to stand before the King.


As her turn came, Lyrical began to understand the feeling stirring in her heart. Before her sat the greedy, glutted monarch of this place, sating his every want at the expense of people who had not the means to keep up. Countless had been thrown into the pit below, she could only imagine, never to be of value to him again. Even the simplest of minds could determine that such a model was unsustainable and... un.... unfair.

That was it. The feeling scratching at her throat was anger... anger at injustice. And this was admittedly confusing for her, for she had not given a second thought to such things as fairness before. Not in this bleak, terrible world where she was only alive because she had been strong enough to make it so. Perhaps these feelings were Hers rather. This form must have felt such things in its prior life. But this mattered not, now.

The King demanded something, gestured at Lyrical with a fat sausage finger and her eyes narrowed with this anger. Skeleton-faced Hound grumbled through the burlap sack that had been roughly tied over its head, likely in fear of being bitten. Her fists clenched (the left searing with pain at the sudden action) and she imagined all of these people outside the hedonistic gates of this glutton's home. The image, the feeling, welled inside the front of her mind, a pressure building and seeking to be unleashed upon His Royal Majesty...

The butt of the guard's spear struck Lyrical in the temple before anything more could happen. Either she had not answered a question, or had taken on too defiant an expression, or someone had decided that she was trying to do something dangerous... regardless, her unconscious body fell limp into the pit followed closely by the rasping whine of her companion.


Awakening to what might be the Hound's attempts at licking - bony muzzle scraping against the soft skin of her cheek - Lyrical pushed herself up into a seated position and regarded the darkness surrounding them. The mushy parts around her are regarded curiously, a feeling she recognized as 'disgust' streaming up her hand and causing her to recoil from the touch. Rising to her feet, she quickly moves forward to put both the smell and feel behind her. The Hound stops rooting at the nearest foot and follows after her dutifully.

At the end of the winding passage out of this deposit room, Lyrical clings to the wall and squints into the larger space. Another feeling rises in her throat, this time bidden by her curiousity. Her voice rings out, startling both companions.

"Hel...lllo?"

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Grin lands with a splat! in the muck below the pit. He lies there for a moment, trying to determine if he is hurt or not from the fall. Deciding that he is no worse for wear, he sits up. Running his tongue around the inside of his mouth, the grin on his face widens. Whatever that black paste was, it wasn't half bad. "I've tasted far worse," he says out loud, a little to loudly. His voice echoes and carries throughout the darkened cave.

Rising slowly to his feet, Grin looks around. As he stands there, giving his eyes time to adjust to the low light, something cold and wet is thrust into his hand. He looks down, grinning, and sees his beloved canine nuzzling his hand. "There you are, Mutt," he says to the dog. "Where's DumDum?"

Mutt gives a short bark and trots off into the dark. Following the dog, Grin makes his way to DumDum, his horse. "Miss me, Dummy?" He asks as he begins rummaging through one of the horses saddlebags. After a moment Grin produces a torch and a small wooden box holding a piece of firesteel and a strip of magnesium.

Momentarily, the cave is aglow in fiery torch light. Grin looks around, taking in his surroundings.

"Hel...lllo?"

Grin turns to the sound of the unfamiliar voice. "And who do we have here?" He asks, as he begins walking toward the shadowy figure before him...

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Edited by GaryD20 (see edit history)
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As the light was sparked, the flashes of light revealed not only a woman missing part of her face, and a dog to match, but another woman as well wearing thick robes covered in blood and strange headgear sporting an artistic series of metallic half-circles. In one hand was a gnarled, mostly-straight tree branch.
 
"Just can't wait to light up, huh?" she asked in a sultry, raspy voice. She stepped away from the foul-smelling pile of... something...pushing forward a wooden wheelbarrow. It held food, a waterskin, a rattling chain, and some other odds and ends.
 
"Not that I mind. Maybe we can see what..." the woman said as she stopped to look at the pile.
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As the soft glow and crackling hiss of a new torch began to fill the room with light, the group could see what had broken their fall. A massive pile of easily three dozen or more people, all haphazardly stacked--or left--here. The ones on the bottom were in a worsened state of decay than the top. Limbs were broken and at odd angles, faces bloody. Strangely, most of them seemed devoid of anything save for clothing. It was definitely the most dead in one spot anyone had seen thus far.

The woman with the wheelbarrow held back from retching, but barely. She quickly turned and began to work her way out of the tunnel. "No, no, tis not proper! A lady doesn't pu--uh...lose her lunch!" she said, strangely.

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Momentarily forgetting the girl missing half her face, Grin follows the robed woman's gaze down to the pile of gore. The creepy grin covering his face never falters. Raising his head, he looks back to the woman with his cold dead eyes. "Just a little human chum. Nothing to lose your lunch over." His voice echoes about the room as he continues speaking way to loudly. He glances about as the echoes begin to die off.

Then, as if remembering something, he looks down at his clothes. They are splattered with blood and viscera from his fall into the dead pile. "Can't have anything nice," he says, brushing away chunks of gunk and goo.

Grin's eyes once again fall on the girl with half a face. He raises the torch higher to get a better look at her. "Well, aren't you a pretty one?" He says, running a tongue over jagged and rotting teeth. "I'm Grin," he says, before nodding his head in the robed womans direction. "That's the Lunch Lady. And who might you be?"

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c375ea448a7ea6a5e8c31e5b82284a8c.jpg.1c90cbb04113158a1246761dfb5c39f7.jpgAs the shapes of the other two materialize out of the darkness, assisted by the sudden illumination of Grin's torch, the girl with half a face puts more steps between herself and the 'pillow' of squishy used-to-be people. "She is called Lyrical," her voice returns, finding more intent and ability. The speaking was uncomfortable for the flayed portions, and her mouth moves in a sort of lopsided way to avoid moving the damaged half. A hand lands on the bare-bone forehead of the dog creature at her side, but she does not introduce it to them. She doesn't even know what it would want to be called, besides.

Head tilting faintly to one side, she regards the so-called Lunch Lady. "Is the bloody one hurt? Is the blood her own?" Within her, she believes there is some capacity for easing such ailments, provided she understand how they are hurt... and how to access that power. At this point, she is asking out of a feeling of politeness than actual care.

"Why does the fat monarch cast us into this pit so carelessly?" Not necessarily a question that any of them knows the answer to, but spoken like there is yet innocence in her. Or just naivety. "He can't throw everyone into this pit or there will be none left to sate his detestable gluttony. For which he needs punished." As if to accent this sentiment, a little knife appears in her pale hand (the one with skin still, of course) from beneath the folds of her cloak.

"Which way to him."

 

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"Quite the co---" the woman started to say, gagging again as she looked back at the pile accidentally. "Colloquialism."
 
With a shake of her head, she said, "Some is mine, certainly, but not from recently. My blood is only for my Goddess." She then swayed a finger back and forth. "That chute of filth and funk would be the route of most celerity...but far, far too much effort."
 
A moment later she added, "And a room full of spears in your face at the end. No, my lovelies, the only way out is through, just like everything else."
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..."No, my lovelies, the only way out is through, just like everything else."...

Grin looks back and forth between his two newfound companions. His grin widens, seemingly on the verge of splitting his face in half. The grin does not touch his eyes. They remain cold and dead. "Ah! An adventure then!" He giggles merrily. "Excellent!"

He points a dirty and scab encrusted finger down the southern tunnel. "It looks like things opens up down that way."

Moving off, he gathers DumDum's reigns and calls out for Mutt. Without waiting to see if the others are following, Grin begins heading toward the open area.

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c375ea448a7ea6a5e8c31e5b82284a8c.jpg.1c90cbb04113158a1246761dfb5c39f7.jpg"This is unfortunate," Lyrical states, a mismatched wrinkle moving her brow of skin and sinew. "A delay only prolongs his undeserved opulence. She needs to return to him swiftly." Nodding as if affirming her strange third-person statement, she reaches down and touches the skull-faced hound on its bony head with the cracked and painful looking fingers. A light trail of blood remains. "Ready to carry forward, creature?" she asks it.

Without waiting for its response, she steps forward to the other two and looks up, her slighter stature unmatched to the words of promised justice. The knife remains clasped tightly in her hand. "She is willing to work together, if they are. Surely there are dangers ahead."

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The bone-faced dog nuzzled at Lyrical's hand and then trotted just a few steps ahead of her as she moved through the winding tunnels ahead. Grin was just ahead of her, torch held high to give everyone near him ample lighting. The bloody woman had given pause at the end of the tunnel, looking up at something in thought.

After navigating a twisting passage, a large cavern came into view. The mouth of the cave opened wide here, though partially choked by several bodies on the ground. Their haphazard placement--and general look of decay--gave away their lack of life.

A large statue greeted the group's visage. It was easily twice as tall as any of them, perhaps more. More striking was the female figure it was shaped after; naked and beautiful by Human standards, with six arms, six breasts, and six horns upon its head. Each hand held a decapitated head of stone, though carved with intricate details such that they looked real.

Before more details could be taken in, several of the bodies twitched with activity, springing to life with fervor. Worms writhed beneath their skin and out of orifices. Their voices were gone and replaced with wet, gurgled moans. Three corpses had leapt up, one near each of the group with dirty fingers reaching out.

Begin Combat

OOC

Thrown right into it. This module starts off with a bite!

First I'll roll Initiative.

A 5 means PCs get initiative. There's no advantage of surprise so you'll roll your Attack first, then your Defend. If you happen to kill your foe, you don't have to Defend (but roll it anyways to speed things up).

Remember, movement is tracked in the fiction; if you can justify something within the narrative, I'll usually allow it.

There are no additional modifiers for this fight, so just test vs. DR12 (as normal). You test Strength or Presence to Attack (depending on if you try to back away to range or not) and then test Agility to Defend.

Name
Initiative
5
1d6 5
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c375ea448a7ea6a5e8c31e5b82284a8c.jpg.1c90cbb04113158a1246761dfb5c39f7.jpg Sure enough, danger did in fact lie ahead. Lyrical stood with head cocked slightly to one side, regarding the perverse statue that they had discovered in the new cavern, questions rolling in her mind about its origins, its purpose... who might need cleansing for worshiping before it. But these thoughts are lost immediately at the rising of the shambling, squirming group of corpses.

Combating enemies had been low on the priority list of preparations when she had entered this city, having gotten thus far by words alone - or the sight of her disturbing canine companion. To be physically attacked was to be using motions that had not been practiced. The knife in Lyrical's hand raises as the worm-infested being approached her, and a quick flick of her wrist seeks to swat away one of the grimy hands that seeks to grab her.

"She does not like this surprise," she announces with a frown. "These stand in the way of our survival... whatever they are."

Name
Knife Attack
15
1d20+1 14
Knife Damage
4
1d4 4
Defense
22
1d20+2 20
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As the bodies begin to rise from their place on the ground, Grin cuts his eyes from the monstrous statue and locks them on the worm infested corpse shambling his way. He turns and faces it with torch raised out in front of him. "Well, that didn't take long," he calls out merrily.

Switching the torch from his good hand to his off hand, Grim quickly pulls the dagger tucked away inside his belt. He calls out for Mutt as he begins backing away from the things reaching fingers. "Mutt! A little help here!"

The dog rushes out of the shadows and leaps at the walking piece of worm food. The dog flies through the air, all snarls and snapping teeth, but comes up short in the attack.

"Stupid dog!" Grin cackles maddenly. With a snarl of his own, he steps forward and lashes out with the knife. The blade passes harmlessly through the air, sending him into a giggling fit. "Takes one to know one, it would seem!"

 

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Edited by GaryD20 (see edit history)
Name
Mutt (bite)
1
1d20 1
Mutt (bite damage)
4
1d4 4
Grin (knife attack)
10
1d20 10
Grin (knife damage) 
2
1d4 2
Defense (agility)
15
1d20 15
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With the corpses suddenly springing to life, the bloodied woman made a high-pitched two-toned cry. "Huuu-AH!" came the sound with a strange rolling of her tongue.
 
Her eyes went wide and she drew her stick up into two hands high above her head. She tried to jab the worm-infested body away from her with the end of it. Unfortunately it was awkward and completely missed, allowing the corpse to get close enough to claw at her. She couldn't even shove it away as it wrapped around to one of her shoulders. Instead, the branch was thrown to the ground--behind her foe.
 
"No! NOO!!" she cried out. She could feel her goddess watching her--judging her. This was not the moment of death. The dead-man-thing still raked its nails across her flesh, but she hadn't died--yet.
Name
Stick attack!
1
1d20 1
Defend!
4
1d20 4
Damage taken
3
1d4 3
armor
1
d2 1
Broken effect
4
1d4 4
NOPE! Spend an omen to reduce damage!
1
1d6 1
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While the bloody woman seemed to have a lot of trouble, Lyrical seemed absolutely in control. Her blade deftly delivered the final rest to the mangled corpse as it lunged toward her. Gone were it's eyes, sockets now filled with worms that poured onto the stone below. But a moment later they were filled with a blade, putting an end to the being's would-be reign of terror.

With but a gurgle, the corpse fell to the ground before Lyrical and her dog unceremoniously, no longer a hint of motion.

Grin had less success in his maneuvers, swiping just a touch too early. His knife parted the air with a whine, allowing the infested body to press into his arm. It's mouth was agape, no tongue to be seen, with only a handful of teeth left and worms wriggling where others were supposed to be. But the scoundrel was quick and dexterous, using the momentum of his foe against it, throwing it behind him.

Mutt tried to snap at the creature's ankle to bring it down, but Grin's deftness removed the target from the dog's path. Instead it snapped harmlessly at air, falling into the stone clumsily.

Next actions, please.

OOC

Alright, I had to spend an Omen on Madam to keep her from dying! Geez that was close! She fumbled though, so her weapon is gone.

Mutt also fumbled, so he'll lose his attack next round as he comes out of a minor daze.

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