Given that we’re supposed to be cautious friends with Fargonlon at the moment, I’m not sure we really ought to have been traveling in the badlands, but Runt got this idea about seeing a giant scorpion, and, frankly, I was bored, so here we were.
Fenriss, poor dear, lead us into the desert okay- she’s been here before, it seems- but she wasn’t dressed for it at all, furs for autumn in Cradle and not the blazing sun, and she was absolutely exhausted by the time we came upon evidence of another intelligent hunter of some kind. Which was curious, since, of course, the badlands are theoretically uninhabited (and therefore inhabitable).
So, we went to check out the neighbors. They live in an enormous rock, which they’ve carved out into a set of two caverns- one set sized for people (or…people shaped things) and the other for much larger creatures.
In respect for our perhaps inadvisable presence in the area, we did try to sneak in and check things out before we sent in the army of Barrys, but once Al popped back with a bleeding Zannah, it was pretty clear they weren’t friendly. Spears through the wall, really.
Also, as we bandaged the wounded and prepared for the attack, Imil and I…changed. Something strange in the air, almost certainly the fault of whatever was living in the cave. I’ve become rather fond of my feathers now, but I have to say they were a bit of a shock when they first appeared. I like to be asked about my body modifications. Rude.
Ergo: army of undead.
They had a clever little setup, for what they were, narrow hallways with holes just large enough to poke a vicious spear through, and no access save past the hallway. I’m sure it worked great against whatever the usual desert crowd was.
They were not prepared for us. A little hypnotic razzle-dazzle, a wizard who can go through walls, and delightfully narrow rooms full of kobolds behind, some fire and lightning, little bit of mindbending; as you do.
Beyond their murderous little hallway, we discovered a larger facility, including a large, heavily trapped room, vents all around- designed to flood the room with something? We were able to avoid whatever gruesome fate the creatures intended for us, but it was clear they were protecting something.
We encountered more kobolds, which were of no particular concern, and unholy joined creatures- half spider, half jackalwere- which were honestly pretty terrifying. Especially for those of us in the midst of turning into something unknown, thanks.
The jackal-spiders burned much of our remaining resources, but we didn’t dare to rest, even for a moment, having not yet found the source of the contagion. So we pushed on, until we found a vast chamber beneath the rock, dark water lapping at the edges. And skeletons, scattered around the sand.
We judged it might be wise to send a couple of Barrys to investigate, instead of poking our own pretty noses in quite yet.
They made it to the edge of the water before the thing emerged, and then they were just gone. It was easily the biggest creature I’ve ever seen, and for certain the ugliest- five heads, tentacles, snapping claws, a tail, acid breath, the full complement of monster Trouble. I remain certain that if we’d tried to fight it then, at least one of us wouldn’t have made it back.
But my second favorite wizard wisely suggested he use his excellent hat to take us back to Cradle for the night, far enough away from this thing, which was probably causing the mutations, to be safe from further contagion. Theoretically. I was exhausted enough not to ask questions, and he turned out to be right, so it worked out.
We came back, fully loaded, knowing what we faced, and still only fought it to a draw.
Two heads were down, destroyed and cauterized, before it took out most of the remaining Barrys in one overwhelming swipe. And then it tried to eat Imil.
I mean, it did eat him. He just didn’t stay eaten, because peerless wizard. Nevertheless, not something I can allow to stand, obviously. It takes skill to be a nightmare to a nightmare, but I’m a talented woman when I’m inspired.
It fled from us, deep into the water, and we could not follow, save for Runt, and fighting a Thessalhydra one-on-one is a path to certain death. It lies there still, nursing its wounds, waiting to strike. We will not leave it waiting long.