Butchers Among Us #3
A Brief Note On Names
For those of my players reading this, if you are not Orin please ignore this brief section. For those of you curious it is important to not that Orin is a warlock who found their calling in a very specific books that Orin found in their academy. Written in Deep Speech, Aklo, the language of eldritch monstrosities Orin seeks translation and information to learn where this newfound power comes from. Horizon can help but only a little, as mentioned previously. What she gives are four names: Hastur, Tsathoggua, Bor-lahgru, and Shulgr’zx.
Stopping The Cultists
Ambushing the cultists mid-ritual, our heroes attempt to stop whatever it is they are doing. If the body on the alter is still living there is no indication but that doesn’t matter. He was not the first and if they do not succeed he will not be the last. Whatever they are doing here is causing the souls of the victims and, perhaps, other recent dead to become trapped in ethereal vines in an tormenting agony in the Etherium.
The fight begins without issue. These cultists are but recruits, clearly new to their devotions and ill-prepared to be opposed, least of all by those well equipped to enact vengeance for the dead. A few go down before they know what is happening and half the others flee in fear, despite the descent of a large, round bird. The creature is a shrike of sorts but gigantic and beak dripping in blood. A fiendish aura wafts off it clearly for 42 who is attuned to such things and Orin, using their magical sight, is able to discern a necklace of powerful enchanting energy.
Seeing the bird, Orin manages a successful dissonant whispers that causes the demon bird to flee in confusion from what was supposed to be a meal. As Usagi and 42 make quick work of the remaining cultists, Orin disguises themselves as a cultist and follows one of the retreating individuals. Upon catching up they are able to convince the other into sharing what happened and encouraging the elf to go back to their boss and get help. Luckily, Cyril has followed and, while Orin is lost, the psychopomp should be able to reconnect their friends…
After dealing with the remaining cultists, the other two learn nothing of what was going on here. Intent on following Cyril to their new friend, Usagi checks the sacrificed individual: a half orc who still lives! With some triage they stop the man’s bleeding, prop him against a tree, and leave him a note and water for when he awakens. Despite doing this quickly, Orin is still a bit far ahead.
Entering a small cabin Orin learns that the cult is, in fact, new. At least locally. It is here that the leader is found, a tiefling with crimson skin and long, straight, corkscrew horns. Despite Orin’s attempts to remain inconspicuous a hand on their chin reveals the deceit and the tiefling reacts. With a word Orin is paralyzed and the elf is stabbed for his foolishness.
As the tiefling threatens the paralyzed Orin and prepares to place them in a small cage, their friends find the cabin. Rushing in to help, the tiefling attempts to flee but cannot. Instead he is knocked out. The elf, Azaki Rothenel, is helped with his wounds and sent off to begin anew. A short argument about the cultist leader ends in the decision to leave him alive for Dragon Song justice. As such they return him to town, but not without retrieving the now drowsy half orc.
Upon heading back to the ritual site, Usagi has to take cover. The shrike has returned and is using a gigantic metal implement to pick up a cultist and fly back to its nest. Lucky for Hogar, he remains unnoticed off to the side beneath a tree where he was left. As the demon departs Usagi aids Hogar in returning to the others and, afterward, back to Brineshear.
In the following hours the group seeks information and celebrates what little success they had that day. The cult leader is captured but has yet refused to provide answers. The souls are beginning to free themselves but what information was found in the cabin is unreadable by the group. What or who started the dark rituals to begin with?
The day is not without something good, however. There is a member of Horizon’s crew who speaks the language of the journal found with the tiefling’s gear: Sylvan. More than that the group has access to robes and a location where they might draw out the demon for an ambush. One they plan for the morning.
Before leaving, Usagi visits Hogar to make sure he is okay and is gifted with a family heirloom: a magical harpoon. He urges her to take it since he gets sea sick and makes his living by hunting shellfish on shore. To him it is better to leave the family and do good in the monk’s hands. Orin helps reveal it as able to magically stretch its rope and remove itself from prey on a command word. Intended to save fisherman and their tools at sea, the magic may see some unique use on the field of battle….