Over the Crown of the World

13: What lies beneath...

Burnt Offerings

Though they express their suspicions, the Sandpoint heroes agree to take the queer creature named Hobbs along as a provisional ally once he tells them his story. An Oracle of obviously unnatural heritage, Hobbs had been spotted and hired as one of several mercenaries on the outs in Magnamar by the fair-haired and beautiful Nualia, a former resident of Sandpoint (thought long dead, according to Kaitlinn, caught in the same fire that killed her guardian, the priest Ezakien Tobyn, and burned down the old Sandpoint Church eight years ago). Hobbs has since had a falling out with his erstwhile employer (ever since she took in a certain troublesome Quassit refugee from bellow the town) and is happy to switch sides to better see them all dead.

Heading downstairs, Rogar immediately notes the superior stonework of the halls. Finding several doors leading away, they follow the sound of Goblin laughter and break in to what appears to be a Goblin boudoir, catching fur females by surprise and dispatching them swiftly. Pushing on they find first a hallway, and a third door leading to a room full of cages with a few Goblin whelps locked within, which Kaitlinn quickly dispatches. Yet another door leads off to a cave with a vine-covered exit to the Varisian coastal waters – the only other exit blocked by a tentacled horror reaching for them. Rogar blocks it and sets to as Kaitlinn & Shalelu fill it full of holes. Though Rogar is stung repeatedly (Hobbs as well, when he gets too close) and a little crushed, he recovers, and they set on to find its’ lair, wherein they find an assortment of dead Goblins.

Pushing on, they find a large set of stone doors covered in horrifying carvings decorated to Lamashtu – which they leave behind on grounds that they’d rather not deal with what horrors might be behind them just yet – and instead head off a side passage, where they find a series of rooms. The first proves to hold a poorly done collection of Goblin murals, the most intriguing of which shows the Thistletop Head in profile with a gigantic Goblin with flaming weapons inside. The next room proves to be some sort of war counsel chamber, where plans for attack on a blackboard show the recent attack on Sandpoint was just one of many planned, and there are more to come, once the Whisperer Bellow is freed. The last room proves to be inhabited by an attractive, dark-skinned woman in white otherwise preoccupied with her research into a collection of ancient Thassilonian artifacts. Hobbs persuades her that his “friends” are just new recruits, and introduces her as Lyrie Akenja, a Wizard Archaeologist in Nualia’s employ. Somewhat shy, she encourages them to go away and leave her to her studies, but when she encouraged to speak her mind by Kaitlinn, her honesty in not caring that Nualia’s plans will destroy Sandpoint get Kaitlinn’s Starknife chucked into her gut, followed by a whack over the head by Rogar to knock her unconscious. Hobbs would have finished her off but for Shalelu aiming an arrow at him and telling the more bloody minded to back away. “We’re here to kill Goblins” she states, “not massacre everyone we meet, no matter how misguided.”

At Shalelu’s insistence they heal Lyrie just enough to keep her from dying and leave her gagged and trussed up behind her desk. Searching the study they find a stairwell leading down, but decide they’d best head back and finish exploring this level of the Head instead before going deeper. Heading back around to the horrifying double doors, they enter what Kaitlinn identifies as likely a Church of Lamashtu, Demon mother of monsters. Inside they not the eerie similarities to the temple bellow Sandpoint, and are completely surprised when they are ambushed by hideous flying hairless dogs. The baying of the Hounds sets Rogar and Kaitlinn in such a panic both drop everything and flee in opposite directions. Of the four who went down, only Kaitlinn makes it out, mad with fear as she races back through the Nettlewood for home…

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