Crow's Point

Who Says You Can’t Go Home?

Session 22

Barlongren uses the Eyes of Gam’Sheth to shift into the form of a black crow and flies into the barbarian camp to investigate. Despite their earlier encounter with a band of orcs claiming to be the Band of the Red Fang, this encampment appears to be mostly populated by humans, though there are a few orcs and goblins roaming amongst the tribes. The barbarian can quickly tell that most of the barbarian warriors have clearly partaken in Ravik’mort. Not only are most of the warriors inhumanly swollen with muscles, but Barlongren can see that the pupils of their eyes are cloudy and misshapen in some unnatural way.

The women and children of the camp quickly scurry out of the way whenever the crazed warriors walk by. Everyone who hasn’t partaken of Ravik’mort appears to be very tense and on edge. They don’t show any banners or symbols, but Barlongren recognizes the members of a variety of other tribes besides his own in the encampment. The camp also includes a guarded pen for human slaves or prisoners, though unfortunately Barlongren does not see Neesa held there. In crow form, the barbarian flies into the temple of Gam Ysran itself. He encounters a medicine man and medicine woman and, using the Eyes of Gam’Sheth’s True Seeing ability, realizes they are rakshasa in magical disguises.

He is shooed out of the temple entrance, which is nothing more than a ragged hide hanging over an opening, and gladly retreats from the powerful creatures. He finds the section of the camp where most of his former tribe, the Valders, seems to be clustered and recognizes one of Malek Tal’s former servants, a woman named Ophemier. Like Barlongren, there was no love lost between her and the cruel tribal chief, and the barbarian risks that he can trust her. He waits until she is alone in a tent, returns to his human form, and enters.

They discuss the state of the tribe, and Ophemier explains that most of the male warriors have, either willingly or unwillingly, taken of Ravik’mort. She mentions that Malek Tal started the practice shortly after the strange group of four medicine men and women joined the tribe. Since capturing Gam Ysran, warriors now drink the blood as part of a special ritual held in the temple. While the warriors have practically degraded into savage beasts, they understand and obey the commands of Malek Tal, as well as the medicine men and women, without question. Ophemier tells Barlongren that if he is caught in camp he will certainly be made to drink the blood, as Malek Tal would like nothing more than to turn the warrior into his obedient pet.

Barlongren asks about Neesa and Kalo, and Ophemier says that Kalo was forced to partake in Ravik’mort and is now one of Malek Tal’s mindless lackeys. She doesn’t believe Neesa was forced to drink the blood, but she’s not certain. The elder medicine woman has been Malek Tal’s personal prisoner ever since Barlongren was forced to fight her son, Bar Gazh, to the death. When Gam Ysran was taken, Tal brought her into the temple where he resides with the medicine men and women, and Ophemier hasn’t seen her since. Barlongren thanks her for her help, changes back into the form of a crow, and rejoins the party.

The group puts together a plan to enter the temple of Gam Ysran and find Neesa and the other shamans, if they’re still alive. Myx casts a Seeming spell to make the party all appear as crazed barbarian warriors. Luuran stays behind in the hillside to protect Tortette and Onjon, while the party heads into the encampment. As the party approaches, a few barbarian warriors glance their way, but pay them no mind. There is little organization amongst the camp, and the party isn’t bothered at all as they make their way to the temple. They stand outside the entrance, and Barlongren hears a voice inside that he recognizes as Malek Tal’s.

“For too long, we have lived in squalor, fighting amongst ourselves. Do you know what riches and wealth the lands below this Plateau hold? Treasures beyond belief held by weak, pathetic creatures begging to be enslaved by a strong master! We fight each other for glory, blind to the fact that the greatest glory lies beyond our borders. There is no greater mark on history than conquering the ‘civilized’ world. And it is ripe for destruction, led by puny, weak fools who know nothing of true battle! Now is your chance to join us in true glory! The Band of the Red Fang will wash over the world like a sea of blood, and you will be the crest of this unstoppable tide! Now drink of the blood of your enemies, and become a true warrior!”

During this speech, the party hears another voice chanting some kind of arcane incantations. The group decides there’s no point in delaying, and Myx surreptitiously casts an Improved Phantasmal Force spell, creating the illusion of a massive black dragon swooping down out of the sky towards the camp. Chaos and confusion break out as women and children scream and flee, while crazed barbarian warriors eagerly meet the creature with their weapons.

The commotion reaches the temple, and the party sees a medicine man step outside the entrance to investigate. Barlongren recognizes him as one of the magically disguised rakshasa. The creature sees the illusionary black dragon and immediately barks orders back inside the temple. He tells Tal to “head below and tell Kalitaxis I’m investigating a possible attack on the camp”. Then a number of crazed barbarian warriors follow him out of the temple, rushing towards the dragon, while several other warriors march a line of prisoners out of the temple towards the slave pens. The party quietly waits for them to cover some ground, then slips into the entrance of the temple.

They find the main hall empty. A large wooden table stands in the middle of the room, a human form chained to it. The prisoner is dead, a gruesome cut across his throat which still drips blood. A human skull rests on the table, turned upside down to form a bowl, and is filled with dark, crimson blood. The party hurries through a wooden door in the back of the room. They find Malek Tal’s personal quarters, which unfortunately hold nothing of interest other than a terrified serving girl. The party also comes across a planning room with maps of the surrounding area, as well as a store room. The group finds a set of stairs heading below ground, and, since the other rooms are empty, they descend downward.

Barlongren mentions he had heard stories of crypts below the temple at Gam Ysran where some famous barbarian warriors were laid to rest. This proves true, as the stairs open into a small room filled with several decorated tombs, as well as numerous dusty skeletons lining the walls. As the party approaches a door on the other side of the room, a voice asks for the ‘passphrase’. The group looks at each other confusedly before a magical trap suddenly activates, teleporting the party members from the room.

Myx and Cham appear together in a large crypt filled with coffins and tombs. Undead immediately spring to life, as the duo is set upon by a dozen skeletal warriors and a wraith. Barlognren appears in a darkened room by himself, where a crimson death mist coalesces and lashes out at him. Swashy also appears alone in a small room to find a massive bone golem looming over her.

Separated, the party desperately fights off their enemies. Cham turns undead and banishes many of the skeletal warriors from the fight, while a Fireball from Myx’s Staff of Power burns several others. Barlongren enters into a rage and tears away at the crimson death mist, though the barbarian is sorely wounded in the fight. Swashy barely hangs on to defeat the creature assaulting her, using her Ring of Water Elemental Command to smash a Wall of Ice over the golem’s head.

Swashy and Barlongren make their way out of their rooms, and each finds a short hallway that delivers them to the crypt where Cham and Myx are. The group heals up as best they can, draining most of the Potions of Extra-Healing they received from Lady Salinda. Swashy picks the lock on a door in the crypt, and the party heads down a long, dark passageway. They arrive at another door where they hear voices on the other side. Cham takes a moment to cast ‘Chaotic Combat’ on Barlongren, while the barbarian enters into a rage. The group then rushes inside.

They find a musty, underground chamber that has been converted into a palatial den. Plush pillows and silk curtains are draped over each corner of the room, and a number of decorative gems and fine jewels are splayed about the room. Another door stands closed in the opposite wall.

Inside the room, the party sees two rakshasa standing around an enormous purple gem set in a large gold stand. The gem is magically projecting the image of another rakshasa, who is conversing with the other cat-like creatures. “Once you know more, Kalitaxis-” The voice cuts off as the party enters. One of the rakshasa, which the image just addressed as Kalitaxis, is clearly a larger, more terrifying specimen than the other. This greater rakshasa turns to the party as he waves a hand, and the projected image from the gem disappears.

Standing in the back of the room is Malek Tal, along with Kalo. Barlongren barely recognizes his old friend as his enraged eyes focus on Tal. Kalo has clearly partaken of Ravik’mort, as his milky eyes stare blankly ahead as he stands obediently next to Malek Tal. Another crazed barbarian warrior stands near the doorway.

“What is this?” Kalitaxis asks confusedly. The rakshasa can see through the illusion of the party, though they recognize Barlongren as a barbarian warrior. Tal, however, cannot see through the illusion, and is simply confused as the strange warrior rushes towards him. His hesitation allows Barlongren a free first strike against his old master. As Barlongren rushes into the room, Cham calls out to the rakshasa, saying they are here to join the Band of the Red Fang. The rakshasa don’t buy this at all, and look at the priest confusedly. However, Cham’s distraction is just enough for Swashy to silently creep into position to backstab Kalitaxis as the battle begins.

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