Where do heroes go?
Into the Earth where they may rot
In the gullets of worms and eels and subterrene things
To the bottom of the Night Ocean
-Carcosan children’s nursery rhyme [approximate translation]
I have been neglectful in transcribing my make-belief campaigning of blood-splattered nightmare fantasy-adventure on lost, cursed Carcosa. At long last, the wheel has turned and the promised time has arrived once more. When we last left our stalwart champions they were based in the village of the White Men. Surrounded by belligerent and well-armed warriors, our dashing do-gooders made plans to travel the river upstream for the sky-piercing Tsaggasoth Peaks, there to quest for the rare magnetic ores craved by the coveteous Kalak, who pledged to reward them handsomly. After gleaning about a great village of Blue men that was said to guard passage towards the mounteanous regions in the North, our heroes set out to gain glory and gold. Cunning Remus, storyteller, poet and conniver, resolved to remain behind, persuing unknown goals for unknown benefits.
Our ill-omened voyage got off to a bad start, when our heroes encountered a lurking horror that travelled the depths of the great river. Seeking in vain to distract the creature with rations, the succeeded in little more then gaining the dubious benefit of its undivided attention. As the shadow from below approached the boat of noble Sayeed and the phlegmatic Sago the Red, the rest quickly set out for the river’s edge. Great Sayeed, misjudging the depth of the river and momentarily forgetting the weight of his ornate scale mail, did leap from his boat, flask of burning oil in hand, and quickly sank to the bottom. Rescue attempts by valiant Asuz were in vain, and before he could free himself from the burden of his mailed armour, the river was turned red with his blood, and thus his journey ended in the gullet of a nameless pelagic terror. From the shores of the great river, our defiant defenders watched stoically, their greed undimmed, their backs unbowed.
They soldiered on, reaching the great village of the Blue Men that bridges the Great River, a collection of rafts and huts that formed a trade hub for the inhabitants of the southern regions. Its cruel inhabitants wore ornate masks of precious metals and were renowned for their neutrality and vast wealth. As they negotiated for the fee of passage, which was to be 10%, our fickle friends chanced upon a new companion, the executioner Ronaan, a white man of ferocious countenance and terrible aspect, whose great, bestial physique filled the hearts of men with dread and foreboding. Sadly he was without cash, for his previous employers had dropped him off, and was now unable to leave the village. For a reduction of their fee, our steadfast sentinels agreed to take him of their hands. They also purchased from the cruel Blue men the halfwit Burlap, a red man of diminuitive intellect but a back like an ox and a mind like a smaller, less sharp-witted ox. As they obliviously handed over their crossbows to Burlap, who handled them with suspicion and great fascination, examining them and eyeing his new masters contemplatively, as though two tiny gears were turning very slowly in his head, they discovered too, the vile Ulfire Slavers did moor in this trade hub. Overhearing them negotiate, they watched them argue about the offered price for their cast-off slaves, saving the cream for the dreaded City of Carcosa, from whence they hailed. Negotiations failed and they slit the throat of their unworthy prizes and left them to bleed out on the rafts. Nonplussed, our handsome heroes continued, looking at other servants, a blinded orange physician and a mighty bone man warrior. The prices were high, but the bronze-visaged merchant proposed a wager. Single combat, Ronaan against his bone men, 2 to 1 odds, gold for the physician. Our heroes were hesitant, but Ronan, smelling glory and gold, convinced them to up the bargain and wager their entire fortune. Doing so, our heroes made little further attempt to affect the pit fight the next day by cheating, obliviously watching a handwringing merchant depart and huddle with some friends, cackling sneeringly as he did so. Jahlin was not so apathic however, purchasing a pouch of ground glass for Ronaan to throw in the combatants face as they fought, with the intention of striking him blind and thus facilitating an easier bout.
Thus it was to be single combat, no armour, a single blade only, the arena a series of wooden poles perched above the river. At noon, the two faced eachother, egged on by a baying croud of metal-masked blue men. Cautious, the mighty Ronaan did flee from the arena and into the linked rafts surrounding it, to much booing of the crowd and a thrown dagger that may or may not have been shenanigans and foul play. The Bone-man, whose hands could crush a small red boy’s head (as had been demonstrated the day before), did taunt him mightly by displaying his mighty weiner for all the crowd to see, shaming poor Ronaan back on the stage. Meanwhile, a surreptitously placed guard did reflect the noon-sun into poor Ronaan’s eyes. Ronaan brazenly edged forward and displayed his buttocks for all to see. The Bone man rushed forward across the wooden poles and killed him with one blow, giving his body to the river. And thus the money was gone, to the hateful laughter of blue men.
Our heroes, bereft of their gold but undaunted, obtained the service of a the stalwart champion and assassin Menon, a Green Man with a lust for gold and adventure that was the equal of fallen Ronan in every way. Thus our heroes travelled on, braving the canyons of the Great River, coming ever closer to the doom-haunted Tsaggasoth peaks. It was on the next day, when they passed the great canyon spanning bridge forged by the enigmatic Great Race, that they encountered perils hitherto unimagined. An invisible flying terror, birthed beneath the earth from the fertile protoplasm of hideous Shug-niggurath, assailed them, slaying Jahlin before our heroes could lay it low with spears and a daunting naval charge by the fisherman Asuz and the thewed, muscle-driven canooing engine that was Burlap. Thwacking the creature somewhat fiercely with their oars, it was laid low and slain.
As they approached a series of rapids and narrowings, they resolved to rest in a nearby cavern, discovering the bodies of blue men and their possesions, which they were not too proud to take forthemselves, for living on Carcosa can be an expensive affair indeed. During their rest they observed lights near the narrowings, indicating ships and habitation. Asuz, with eyes like the eagle, dismissed it as nothing, and so they blundered on, falling into an ambush by Ulfire pirates. It was only by frentic paddling that they reached the nearby shore and hid behind the dubious cover of their canoos, preparing to face down 40 savage river-pirates. Though they were outnumbered and probably doomed, the pirates were hesitant in laying them low, for the attack would cost them dearly. Demanding gold in exchange for safe passage, our heroes managed to leave peacefully, again bereft of gold.
Night passed and our heroes slept upon the shores, rudely awoken by a horde of Deep Ones, claiming ownership of these regions. Muttering darkly in their disgusting language, Speaker to Animals convinced them to allow a peaceful retreat from their sacred fish shrine, which they accepted gracefully in their own, strange, fish-faced way. Ever onward, they encountered a two barges of the hated Ulfire Slavers, travelling downstream with a cargo of nubile young yellow girls. Desiring revenge and greedy as ever, our band concocted an ill-conceived ruse, aiming weapons at them as they approached. Since it was full-day, the Slavers, eight, dressed in ornate serpentine scale-armour, also aimed bows and spears, preparred for banditry and brigandry. Menon, no-doubt wit-addled by the sun, concocted a scheme and approached the boats with Speaker, whilst Asuz and Sago watched warily from afar. The Slavers were less then agreeable, asking them if they had gold to pay for the slaves. Menon said of course, and bid the canoos approach closer. Swearing, the Slavers ordered them back and the two men disarmed. And thus swordplay ensued. As arrows passed back and forth and Speaker was struck down, injured but not fatally, Menon jumped in the water, using cunning and ambush tactics to slay one of his foes. Sadly the rest of the band chose to retreat at that point, seeing 6 slavers still remained and this was thus a hopeless endeavour. As Menon was gutted by the vicious Slavers, they vowed they would take Speaker’s eyes before the day was through.
Unlikely salvation came in the form of the faceless crows of the dreaded Parliament, one of whom set down next to bound Speaker and asked of him a terrible prize in exchange for salvation. Speaker considered the prospect of service to a heinous lovecraftian entity in exchange for his life and readily agreed to gift a thousand souls in exchange for salvation. A vast flock swept down from the sky, blotting out the sun, and stripped the heinous Ulfire men and their yellow cargo of flesh, leaving only the speaker untouched. Now blessed with two barges, albeit it two barges drenched in the viscera of their enemies, our band continued upstream, joined by a new representative of that ultra-tellurian aviary from beyond space and time. They also encountered two new friends, the strangely identical seeming Sarumon the White, a mysterious warrior, and Ragnar the Black, a Sorceror of inhuman beauty and charisma. The dashing duo was eagerly welcomed by our heroes, for the ranks were in dire need of replensishment.
Ever onward, a brief friendly exchange with a transparent elasmosaur nonwithstanding, our heroes were coming up on the sky-splintering Tsaggatsoth Peaks, greatly impressed by the 100 metre high statues of the Primodrial Ones that flanked the subterranean origin of the great river. White refugees, fleeing persecution at the hands of the Ulfire Slavers, hailed them at the shores. After negotiation, and careful eyeing of the refugees for signs of wealth, Ragnar, dreaming of empire, vowed that they would escort them to the well-armed village of the White Men after their expedition to the Tsaggasoth peaks.
Ignoring suspicious looking ancient fanes, our party climbed, and for a day they scaled the wind-battered black stone, battered by life-leeching gusts of freezing air and perilous heights that put their climbing skills to the test. But lo and behold, after a short and uncomfortable stay on a ridge, they finally emerged unscathed upon the great southern plateau the next day. Passing signs of recent habitation, and ancient mines already exhausted, they stayed in abandoned mining camps and travelled onward, the journey made easier by crude stairs, recently hacked out. Another long climb led to another plateau, and a camp, recently abandoned, bowls of food and mining gear still strewn about. Examination revealed a hitherto undiscovered cliff, leading to a fertile valley 2 miles below. Ominous glinstening below beckoned them onward with promises of magnetic riches undreamt of.
It seemed destined that they go there, for in the Night they were accosted by a band of purple men, donned in heavy winter clothing, who bade they follow them down on hidden paths carved from the rock, and led them to a great silver fortress that dominated the valley proper. They were invited to dine with the ancient Master, a Red man of great wisdom who was said to slumber in lotus-fuelled suspended animation for decades at a time. It goes without saying that the food was poisoned and they quickly succumbed to the blackness.
Awakening in dank dungeons, the Master, now bedecked in an ancient space suuit, informed them that he had studied long under the tutelage of the Space Aliens and had discovered that in this cold, empty universe that eventually brought all human endeavour to an end, the only way to be moral was to exert one’s superiority over others. He had hunted and mastered all creatures of the valley and thus the only challenging prey was mankind itself. The heroes were to be his next prey.
Death toll: 14
[A] Rohnan (Specialist 1): Eaten by giant spiders
[B] Jaxxon Windwaker (Ftr 1) : Impaled by Spawn of Shub-Niggurath
[C] Mongo the Red (Sor 1) : Impaled by Spawn of Shub-Niggurath
[B] Klak (Specialist 1) : Skull crushed by Animate Snake-man statue
[B] Kristal (Ftr 1): Drowned in Quicksand
[D] Kakarot (Sor 1): Beheaded by Jale Berserker
[A] Midros (Sor 1): Bissected by Jale chieftain
[E] T’Click (Spec 1): Butchered by treacherous Ulfire men
[B] Kris (Spec 1): Gutted by Elite Yellow Temple Guardian
[D] Rake (Ftr 1): Devoured by Dolm Worm
[A] Sayeed (Ftr 1): Drowned in the Great River to be food for the creatures below
[A] Ronaan (Spec 1): Beheaded by the mighty Bone man champion in honourable single combat
[B] Jahlin (Spec 1): Taken by the invisble horror of the Great Canyon
[A] Menon (Spec 1) : Cut down by the vile and contemptible Ulfire Slavers