[Actual Play] Lost on Carcosa Pt. IX: A game most dangerous & devious

The universe knows good nor evil,
It knows only effectiveness.
To be moral in an indifferent universe is to succeed and by your actions remove that which does not.
– Credo of the Master

My abhorrent negligence in transcribing my sessions continues unabated. I shall endaevour to rectify this travesty posthaste. When we last left our alliance of adventurous armsmen, they were reclining in the dungeon of the self-styled Master, a Red man of immense age and wisdom, who had peered long and hard at the mysteries of existence and concluded that only by predation can we be moral in a harsh and uncaring universe, and there is no prey as ingenious and deadly as that of man. Thus our heroes were in the shitter.

They awoke at dawn to listen adoringly as the Master laid out his grand design over a generous breakfast. They would be furnished with weaponry (a single sword) and armour (a single bright red suit of hard leather armour) and a 4 hour head start. It was the master’s most fervent wish that they provide him with a challenge such as he had not experienced in a decade or more.

It was at this time that Ragnar protested indignantly and with great fervour. Surely our noble heroes would be unable to furnish such a seasoned and well-armed warrior with any sort of fair challenge with such meagre equipment. The Master replied that they had no right to complain, after all they had a sword, which had many advantages a beam-emitter did not. And much blustering and whining and berating did noble Ragnar unleash upon the Master, who was most displeased at his poor sportsmanship and generally negative attitude concerning the whole hunt thing. Frustrated and stonewalled in their efforts, our heroes stole some of the Master’s cutlery to offset some of the butthurt.

And so a noble chase was on, with our grumbling heroes getting a very generous 4 hour head start. And lo, they did set out for the jungles in the northeast, hoping to find shelter and perhaps weapons. After penetrating the jungle but a few metres, they stumbled upon a tribe of degenerate brown men, who called the jungle their home and were most displeased at our heroes for possibly invoking the Master’s Ire and inviting retribution upon them. Golden-tongued and hurricane-voiced Ragnar did save the day once more, by demanding shelter and aid and eventually settling for a bow and several magnetite-tipped arrows and a vague promise of aid if they were still alive tomorrow. Our heroes collectively rolled their eyes and muttered the Carcosan equivalent of ‘Yeah right.’ and rushed onward, south this time, tracked by the ominously rising midday sun, pausing only to collect sharpened poles from the jungle’s edge.

To the great dead tree upon the hill in the south they travelled, pausing to listen to the ominous sounds of great hunting horns. Much ado was made of possibly making a stand here, but it was decided against. Sarumon, alabaster warrior of the west, did turn towards the eyeless rook-thing that plagues Asuz forever and demanded to know how many men the master possessed. And lo he did bow down to monster-mash and pledged loyalty to the graveyard smash to the great merriment of the invisible overgod that lives in the sky and runs the game and the mild discomfort of his fellows (and the oblivious, dog-like loyalty of Burlap the bag-carrier). From the brass gates of the Valley Citadel did emerge the master and his 12 purple servants, arrayed for war, and with them their fearsome Hounds of the Hunt, albino gorilla-like creatures that tracked by scent and knew neither fear (not true) nor pain (also not true).

Dogged on by the distant clarion-call of hunting horns and the muted clamouring of bloodthirsty man-apes they travelled southeast, for the great lake. Already their vile persuers could be seen on the Horizon. It is no longer known who suggested they travel the river’s edge so as to obfuscate their scent, but suggest it he did and travel the river they did indeed. And there was much wading and the joyous cobbling of the ice-cold river as they circled around their persuers, hearing hunting horns from different directions as the hunters envisioned to pincer them near the valley exit. On a bend near the place where the river could be forded by means of great stepping stones, they encountered their nemeses.

Purple men, dressed in armour of overlapping metal scales, with darts, nets, truncheons and the hunting horns and being dragged on by two of the great albino apes. An ambush was concocted, for the purple men had to be slain before they could summon their fellows and of course, the dreaded Master. A cunning scheme involving rocks, flanking, distractions and plotting was envishioned, to limited success, but when the melee was done it was the purple men who turned the river red with our heroes still standing and stripping them of equipment, using the horn to misdirect the other hunting parties so they could escape to the north-east via the river’s edge, but not before Sarumon and Asuz narrowly saved Burlap from a hellish death by drowning after ordering him back during the fight.

And lo our heroes waded onward, deciding to bypass the Citadel and set course for the wellspring of the valley river, where it bloomed forth from the subterrene Night Ocean, the hunting horns fading behind them. The sun set behind them, and they were forced to rest for an hour to catch their breath. As they prepared for the long night, thinking they could rest easily and post a sentry to alert them of any approaching parties (surely detectable via their torchlight) a mighty beacon rose from the highest tower of the citadel on a pillar of fire and bathed the area in sickly green light. It appeared the Master had yet tricks up his sleeve.

Our heroes pressed doggedly onward, crossing the lake to the other side and fighting fiercely with the nautical horror that dwelled within it, taking some wounds and losing a spear, to eventually end up in the baleful Tar Pits. Amidst the mummified remnants of great dinosaurs our heroes, exhausted from the long chase, decided to make their final stand. And lo, most suprising and uncharacteristic for our dashing do-gooders, our heroes concocted a cunning ambush.

It was Sarumon (with the suggestions and aid of both Speaker and Sago) who was the architect of this dasterdly scheme. Egged on by Ragnar, he demanded a second boon from the Parliament in return for the lives of the white refugees (insert economic migrants joke in here somewhere they are all good). Sarumon shrugged, stating he was beyond primitive racial concerns and thus had no problem with pledging the lives of white men to the vile creatures. The boon was his, and the Parliament would scout and alert our band of the movements of the hunters. And so they laboured under the lambent radiance of the Master’s pyrotechnics, digging great ditches and preparing crudely fashioned containers filled with Tar. So too did they prepare an area, digging shallow gullies around it filled with pitch and keeping a small fire beyond the rocks to set it alight. Red uniforms were filled with rocks and propped up in the centre of the trap, so as to lure the Master and his cowardly servants into a trap most devious and deadly.

In the twilight of the early dawn, they came. Like the wrath of some forgotten deity, beams of coherent light rained down upon the decoys, obliterating them. As the servants and their hunting apes made their way unto the enclosure to examine the kill, the heros set fire to the tar, encircling them in flame. Burning hot and high, the fire soon spread to the tar pits nearby, drenching the area in thick, choking fumes. One chanced the moat of burning pitch and came short, drenched in fire, he did not live long afterward. The rest, paralysed by indecision, who succumbed to a death by choking fumes. As smoke began to fill the air, the Master emerged from the flames, unharmed, protected from the fumes by a transclucent helmet, magnificent in his alien wargear and carrying his Telurium Beam Rifle like the baton of some long lost pharaonic king. Jeering and taunting he moved upon our heroes, who huddled behind rocks, ducking each time the boulders were scourged with rays like the thunderbolts of Zeus. It was when he leapt a tar-filled ditch they made their move upon him. Afore they reached him, he fired once and brought down Speaker to Animals, wounding him but not mortally.

As the rest surrounded him, a container filled with tar was thrown over the master, partially blinding him and disabling the rifle. Undeterred, he held his weapon by the barrel and started clubbing into our noble heroes, felling Asuz (mercifully he was not killed, only knocked out) before their combined efforts brought him low. Though they urged him to surrender many times, he laughed and spit with every breath until he ran out of it. Lopping off his head, they helped themselves to his armour and weaponry and then quickly left the field, carrying their wounded.

In the wan light of the morning, they made for the lake, where was born the valley river. In the shadow of the many tall pilon-esque rock formations that surrounded it they rested. It was Sago who was on guard when he perceived a shapely pair of womanly ankles of intense blue colour poke through the underbrush. Sweating with barely contrained desire yet kept in check by the wary distrust Sago the Red had for every man on Carcosa, he was most startled to see the ankles belonged to no other then the Nameless blue man, who had been following them for days but was content to simply observe them from a distance and not interfere. When they pointed out his intervention could have saved half a dozen men he laughed mirthfully and that was that.

After a day of respite, our heroes made for the Citadel to mop up the survivors, Sago the red donning the Master’s suit. Once more, they approached the edge of the woods and attempted a subtle trick most unusual, seeking to lure the servants from the castle by impersonating the recently murdered master, and intending to convey to the Purple Men that he was in need of aid or captured (with some of the heroes hidden nearby and preparing an ambush).

As six well armed purple men emerged from the Citadel Gates our heroes were distraught to find that they had with them TEN of the hideous albino hunting apes that made life difficult. As they charged towards our heroes, catching the occasional arrow, they unleashed their servants. Ten great apes, slavering with the prospect of feasting on the flesh of men, charged forward. It was then Sago, who impersonated the Master, stepped forward and commanded them, in his most imperious Master voice, to stop. And stop they did. With a leasurely imperious gesture, he turned the creatures upon his purple servants, and thus a deadly melee was turned into a grotesque improptu gladiatorial fight with the occasional arrow being lobbed in to pick off any stragglers.

And so it was they entered the Citadel, passing off Sago as the Master to convince the remaining servant to open its gates. Ragnar rejoiced and dreamt of empire, but Asuz, long since fed up with the Master and his sadistic minions, decided they had to die, and promptly murdered the servant they had captured. As they searched the fortress, eyeing its brass plated furnishings with great excitement, they discovered the two remaining Purple men had taken their own lives to escape the fury of Asuz.

Exhausted, giddy with victory, battered but not broken, our heroes lay down on soft matrasses and slept the sleep of the just, which on Carcosa, means the sleep of the victor.

At times, such is Carcosa.

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

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