Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Beyond the Shore: Session 11

The Ogre does what ogres can,
Deeds quite impossible for Man,
But one prize is beyond his reach:
The Ogre cannot master speech.

About a subjugated plain,
Among it's desperate and slain,
The Ogre stalks with hands on hips,
While drivel gushes from his lips.

-- W.H. Auden


After their failed adventures with trying to appease the demon that had once been Fishguts, the party adjourned to Guillaume's small hovel to enjoy the water-naga sushi he prepared them for lunch. The sushi was, as promised, miraculously tasty. Strangely, though, as they stood around eating the raw snake-meat wrapped in rice and seaweed, they suddenly noticed that there were not five of them indulging, but more than a score.

After the initial shock of seeing so many people crammed into so small a space, they realized that the "more" of them, was in fact more of "THEM". Four additional copies each of Caddis, Leopold, Rummy, Thaduk, and Guillaume had appeared almost instantly after they took their first bites. The copies perfectly mimicked their movements, but seemed incapable of making noise or interacting with objects in the environment.

Caddis turned to one of his images and put a hand on its shoulder. A gesture that was perfectly mirrored, almost like a greeting, though Caddis felt nothing. Rummy turned to one of his and charged, trying to tackle it, but mearly passed right through the air where it had been, causing that image to vanish.

Content that the mirror images of themselves were harmless (and perhaps even helpful), they finished off the large lunch and headed back to the warehouses to check in on their crew. They seemed slightly surprised on passing the warehouse where they'd stashed their plunder to find that no one was on watch -- then remembered that they'd dismissed Henrye and the other guards in order to engage in a little ritual naga-killing.

Leopold headed for the taproom to get a drink and others headed into the other warehouse where they found Henrye still sleeping and several of the other crew crowded near the back, where a large hole had been smashed in the wall. The crew, mostly Dutchmen, were gathered around the gnelf that they had captured from the Reindeer. After some stumbling and broken English from Hildebert, the gnelf broke in and explained that Badger Medlar had been watching him and the Cameron girls. The Puritan "preacher-man" had come in and had a rather long conversation with Badger while most of the rest of the crew were either still asleep or off having breakfast. At the end, the back wall burst open (all the gnelf saw was an impossibly big hand) and Badger untied the girls, handed them swords, and the three of them ran off with the preacher-man through the new back door and into the jungle beyond.

Looking for confirmation, Caddis summoned one of the jellied monkeys that he'd set to watch the warehouse where they'd stashed their loot and ate it. He was immediately beset by visions of everything the monkey had seen: Henrye standing guard, Henrye pacing, Henrye yawning, Henrye pacing some more, other crewmen coming and going, a tasty looking beetle, Henrye pacing some more, Henrye falling asleep standing up, Henrye being relieved of duty by the officers, a bat... finally the monkey's attention was grabbed by a loud crashing sound and he looked at the other warehouse, but its perspective was blocked.

Caddis quickly tried to wake Henrye up. Failing that he ordered Chumlett to double the guard on the warehouse where they kept the loot. He and the others headed over to the taproom to round up the rest of the crew, and found that neither his sister Jessica nor the other cabin-girl Caulky had been seen in over an hour.

Leopold broke into song, backed by the barbershop chorus of his mirror-selves, to dispel any fatigue in their crewmen. They then left Riaris to organize proper defenses around their loot and headed to the shipyard to see if Guillaume knew where his fellow foreman might have taken their ransom-fodder. Guillaume, all five of him, shouted some orders to his crew, then led them to the small hovel where Barebones lived.

The hovel as a simple yet solid, one-room, wooden structure. As they approached they heard a deep rumbling-growling noise from within. They knocked, called, and were greeted only by further low growls. They hesitated, then Leopold sent his monkey-familiar to look inside. The empathic feedback basically amounted to unbridled terror (though, of course, to a tiny monkey, everything looks like a giant predator).

Guillaume performed an augury, communed with his infernal patron to determine their course of action. The response was a very clear "Woe, woe...WOE!"

Rummy tiptoed up and peaked through a small knot-hole into the darkened house, but could see nothing save a large, lumpy shape that smelled strongly of fishguts (lowercase -- not Fishguts, who smelled more like urine). Caddis peeked in with his Darkvision and was able to make out a massive arm, followed by a grunt and another waft of epic halitosis. Caddis finally knocked again and addressed the thing in baby-talk.

Suddenly the hovel exploded with a roar of "SHAGGRA NOT A BABY!" They five of them dodged as splinters of wood flew in every direction. Standing in the wreckage and roaring was a massive monstrosity, humanoid in shape and nearly twice the height of Thaduk, with a misshapen head nearly as large as its torso, and a single oversized arm mounted a little too close to the breast to be counted as having a proper shoulder. Its huge arm swung at Caddis, coming down on one of the mirror images with a hand the size of a dinner table in a blow that would have squashed the fake-Caddis flat had it not simply vanished.

Rummy pulled out a pistol and shot the thing, backing away. Guillaume likewise, backed up, blasting it with his eldritch chains. Leopold started to strike up a song to bolster his friends' courage, but was cut off by a roar. "SHAGGRA HATE LITTLE MAN'S SONG! LITTLE MAN'S SONG SUCK!" The huge arm scooped up Leopold, swung him around the massive head in a giant circle, then dashed him against the ground a few times for good measure before tossing Leopold's broken and unconscious body into a nearby water trough. "SONG SUCK!"
[ This is what happens when you roll a 1 on your perform check... ]
Caddis fixed the degenerate brute with his evil eye and tried to suppress its will. The creature simply shook its head, spittle flying and roared again. The brief psychic contact revealed all Caddis needed to know -- the creature was utterly psychotic, so much so that Caddis himself was left a weaker grasp on reality.

He ran.

Thaduk ran.

The families of the shipwrights living in the nearby hovels ran.

Guillaume also ran...but not fast enough. The huge monstrosity grabbed him as he started to run, picking him up in both hands and snapping his back across its knee, then taking a massive bite out of his abdomen, gnawing and slurping at his entrails before casting him aside, quite dead.

Rummy grabbed Leopold's body and ran for the warehouse, planning to let Fishguts out, against everyone else's better judgement. He threw open the door of the warehouse and called to Fishguts. At the same time, the beast smashed strait through the side wall of the warehouse, toppling crates of loot with the unpleasant sound of smashing wine bottles, and heading strait for Rummy and the guards clustered near the just-opened front door.

Fishguts lashed out, snagging the creature with a pair of pseudopods and pulling its oversized head down into its gelatinous mass. Seeing the giant thing rampaging through town and now fighting against the demonic ooze, the crew broke and ran, scattering in all directions. Rummy charged the thing, running up its back while Fishguts had it pinned and stabbed twice into the soft place at the base of its skull, sinking his shortswords into its brain, finally killing it.

Caddis called Sandara over to heal Leopold. She burned all of the power available to her patching him up and bringing him back to consciousness, then confronted Caddis about the gelatinous monster she had seen in the warehouse. Caddis explained about Ambrose Kroop's death and how Rummy had "unwittingly" used a strange book he'd found to "resurrect" their friend in his new shape. The idea of resurrection seemed to greatly bother her, but Caddis assured her that it had been a mistake and they had destroyed the book, but that "Fishguts" was harmless. Sandara immediately appointed herself as "Ship's Chaplain", saying that Caddis and company clearly needed a basic religious education, and asked them to please consult her before reading strange passages from heretical texts.

Caddis agreed and led Sandara off to the bar to get a drink and to calm down. Thaduk helped drag the misshapen degenerate over into a corner of the warehouse for Fishguts to feed on, then cut off a large chunk for himself and took it down to the beach where he set up a makeshift spit and firepit and started roasting it, speculating that eating the beast might give him some of its strength.

Rummy and the mostly-healed Leopold, meanwhile, shut the doors of the warehouse and broke out Rummy's copy of "Demonologia Sexualis", wondering if they could use it to "resurrect" Guillaume in the same manner as Fishguts. Rummy sat down to read more carefully, hoping that they could summon something less disgusting, while Leopold dragged Guillaume's body in through the newly smashed back-door.

Finally, Rummy found where they had "gone wrong" with Fishguts. They tied Guillaume's corpse to a ship’s wheel, broke every bone in the body, scalped it, anointed it with gentian and tormentil, and burned it…

There was a waft of citrus smell. Then, out of the flames stepped a thing…a red-hot, jagged metallic skeleton a head taller than a normal man. Inside the rib-cage of the creature floated a legless infant, its body covered in weeping sores, its face twisted in a silent scream of pain. It spoke, greeting them in the lingua infernalis, and the sound came not from the mouth of the skeleton, nor that of the babe, but from the sores, a hundred tiny voices echoing together.

Leopold fished a suit of enchanted full plate armor, complete with visored great-helm, out of their crates of loot. They managed to get the thing that had been Guillaume obscured and cased in steel with only minor burns sustained. Then the three of them headed out to get a drink. Leopold left Guillaume outside and brought him back a beer. Carefully shifting the breastplate, they poured the drink into the mouth of the infant floating in the skeleton's chest. Much to Guillaume's dismay, the liquid seeped out through the sores covering the body without him tasting a drop.

As the dynamic duo were busy summoning yet another demon, Caddis and Sandara headed back to the ruined hut to search for any clues as to where the preacher might have taken their prisoners and their fellow shipmates. Searching carefully, they found a mostly-intact map tacked to some boards that had been part of the back wall.

Wandering back, they found Thaduk lying on the beach, burrowing through the sand as if swimming. Caddis asked what he was doing and the big orc replied, "Must be the goldfish!" He then climbed a palm tree and began chucking coconuts into the bay. Caddis attempted to put him to sleep, but his psychic powers seemed just as ineffective as they had been on the giant degenerate. Thaduk leaped down from the tree and, after a series of similarly bizarre antics, went over to Guillaume and promptly removed his helmet.

Sandara took one look and screamed. Caddis, Leopold, and Rummy all tried to explain at once, poorly. There were accusations of heresy and consorting with demons, none of which were really denied. Finally Sandara pulled her rapier and began backing away...

Then, Caddis used his evil eye to charm her. Looking at Guillaume he quipped, "So, now we're raising demons on almost a daily basis?"

"Tomorrow's Sunday," Rummy responded, "on the Sabbath I'll rest..."

Once Sandara was subdued, they found the spit of half-roasted meat that Thaduk had been eating from. Unable to do anything else, they let the crazed Thaduk run as he would, until he finally passed out on the beach. "You need to go to bed," Caddis told the charmed priestess.

"Okay..." Sandara grabbed Caddis' arm and dragged him towards the warehouse where the hammocks had been set up...

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