[Actual Play] Lost on Carcosa Pt. XVIII: THIS. IS. CARCOSA.

Along the shore where night-black spires break
The Thundering clouds and reflect distorted upon a depthless lake
What once was buried stirs and hungers,
In Carcosa

Where alien gods dwelling beyonde earth and skies,
speak through mouths of sacrifice,
To withered lords and willing slaves in,
Lost Carcosa

Where streets are wreathed in opium mist and blood is shed,
Palaces bathed in unearthly lights and waters coloured red,
Unearthly things stalk the realms of men in,
Dim Carcosa.

A Dirge for you, who travels far,
under the light of the daemon Star,
To find your Doom in,
Lost Carcosa

– Ode to Carcosa (ripped/inspired by W.Chambers)

And so it was our heroes, accompanied by the Jale carpenter Nolin, the Red Men known as the Four Who Are One and carts laden with equiment and supplies did set out once more for the Citadel that Waits. An imposing sight they struck, the light of the Dim Blue sun reflected in the their polished weaponry. First was Pharron, red as the blood of sacrifices, his slender profile twitching with avarice and his eyes cold and determined. Then follows Kamicollo, his skin the green of Hanging Gardens, who looks upon the world with Time-displaced wisdom and who clutches his chitenous staff to his breast, wary of theft and hungry for bloodshed. Garbed in bronze plate and branded by the marks of Alien gods walks grim Sago the Red, who has seen almost a score of companions come and go and who will see more before he too is put to rest. Then comes Satiros, whose eyes see more then the vulgar world, sharp and cautious he. Last is a creature, a vile monstrosity, with transparent skin and serpent’s tail, twisted by alien sorcery, hungering for war yet cowardly, the warrior Ko. A grotesque parade fit for a doomed world such as this.

Upon the village of Purple Men ruled over by The Lustrous King they came, fetching their ally the Captain of Ulfire Men to join them in their raid. Thirsty for Plunder they were, travelling up the hills for the desolate fortress, only to find footsteps and other signs of habitation. Wearily they approach, carts drawn by the insectile Strixx held in reserve beyond bow shot. Who could it be but the hated Ulfire Slavers, to have taken the fortress in their absence?

Arrogantly our heroes gathered at the gatehouse, secure in victory and strutting forward to speak with the leader of the Ulfire Men, a figure in black plate shaped in hideous serpentine forms, whose identity must remain a secret for now. Arrogant too was this man, who bade them leave under pain of hideous torture and death. As negotiations concluded, Kamicollo fired an arrow and killed the herald of Ulfire men, prompting bowshot from the walls and a daring charge from the Citadel, for the Ulfire Men outnumbered them two to one. Screaming they charged from their wall, led by the armoured figure himself wielding a great sword, his form shimmering with unknown artifice. Beam weaponry and arrows crossed as they clashed under the gatehouse, where butchery claimed many of the Ulfire Men. But our heroes would be denied easy victory.

The swords of Ulfire men and the prowess of their armoured lord claimed the Four Who are One and injured many a hero, drinking in the essence of the slain with each breath, including mighty Kamicollo, but the Ulfire men were driven back at last. As Kamicollo discharged great searing beams into the wooden gate, unerringly targeted by the Second Sight of Satiros, our heroes, sans Ko, injured and slow, drove for the gate to butcher the remaining Ulfire Men. A trap of stones descended upon them as they reached the gate, all archers driven off the wall by beamfire and stratagem, arrow laying low Kamicollo as they breached it. He was fortuitous, for the arrow had merely wounded, not killed. Now our warriors faced the armoured figure, still shimmering with alien protection devices and but two of his men beside him. It was then a cruel reversal rook place.

Unmasking, the figure revealed himself to be none other then a Jale man, with withered face eaten by hideous leprosy, Master of the long lost City of Carcosa, thought destroyed or forever changed. “Carcosa? It lives?” The Jale Sorcerer smiled and said onto him: “Carcosa is forever!” The Ulfire captain was stunned and promptly swore an oath to his old masters once more. Ulfire men fell to the prowess of Sago but it was now for naught. Satiros attempted deception to buy them but precious seconds, but the tide was turning as the sorcerer cut down Sago, disabling him whilst seeking to kill, fortune favoured them. Satiros could do little but fend off the blows of their erstwhile companion, the mighty captain of Ulfire Men. Satiros, garbed in Plate though he was, surrendered and Pharron fled into the fortress, chased by arrow fire, the Ulfire Men too thinned out to persue with any great enthusiasm. As the Ulfire Men gathered their dead and the injured Kamicollo, Ko and his carpenter made a hasty retreat. Our injured heroes were locked in a great wooden cage, together with a band of yellow lepers. Things did not look well.

As Ko raced back towards the village, it was Sago and Satiros who managed to convince the Sorcerer to let them live for now, prepared to be carted off to Hideous Carcosa, there to be bled for secrets and used as rare sacrifices. Kamicollo feigned unconsciousness to avert his fate, and wise he was. Stripped of armour and weapons, our heroes were trapped next to the huddled mass of yellow lepers, who had been blinded and their tongues put out to make them more docile.

It was in the evening that Ko came upon the Village of the Purple men, and gathered them together. Hideous Ko, with skin like air and fangs and serpents tail, did give a rousing speech assisted by the Chieftain’s nubile daughter, the quarralsome Circe, promising the Lustrous King half of all the treasures that lingered within the fortress, as well as victory upon the hated Slavers if only he would lend him his warriors. Victory meant nothing to the Warrior King, but at the mention of treasures uncounted his eyes lit up and he promptly gifted a third of his host to the Warrior Ko, placing them at his command. Since only a member of the tribe was allowed to lead its warriors into battle, Ko was promptly married to Circle, warrior woman, whose acerbic barbs brought great irritation to the Purple Men so that none would marry her. A great feast was prepared and the army was to leave in the morrow.

But the Sorcerer, one of the Masters of Carcosa, had a plan also. Inhaling copious amounts of lotus dust and chanting for hours, he did take from the cage the yellow lepers and rent them asunder with his bare hands, devouring their leprous hearts. From the still steaming innards arose the hideous Leprous Dweller Below. Gesticulating wildly, the Sorcerer sent it towards the Village, to hunt down the creature Ko. Splintering through the wooden gate, it marched, a rotting behemoth 10 foot tall, leaving pestilence in its wake.

And what then of Pharron, who was avaricious rather then brave? Evading the grasp of the Diseased Guardians still prowling the Citadel and coming upon a torch, he did slay several of them and risked prying loose the Great Gemstone from within its resting place in the firmament of the throne room. The room creaked ominously and dust fell down, but he was victorious. Waiting until night fell, he snuck out, across the Citadel Walls, seeing no opportunity to free his companions within their holding place, surrounded by torches and well guarded. Bypassing the laid out dead of the Slavers, he sought to exit through the gate by slaying the two men on guard. Fortune did not favour him, and an arrow took him in the back as he tried to flee. So passed Pharron and the Gemstone of the Citadel, undiscovered in his boot.

It was at dawn that the warriors of the Purple Men were roused and took to the field, encountering the Dweller Below there. Terrified, they looked to Ko, still perched upon his wagon, with Cersei beside him frowning in mild dissaproval, as was her habitual facial expression. Not without cunning was capable Ko, a strategist, placing his warriors and spearmen in a hollow crescent with himself in the centre as bait, and having ordered casks of oil brought to the battlefield. As arrows peppered the creature, barely penetrating its leprous hide, it diverted left, breaking into the huddled men there and shattering their bodies with its great fists. Ko re-formed his line as ten of the purple men were sent to an early grave. In the follow weeks, the skin flakes from its leprous hides would inflict upon dozens more a horrid wasting disease. It would not matter in the end. As the creature charged once more Ko set alight the ground drenched in oil and, burning, the creature collapsed onto the soil, arrows sticking from it like a hedgehog. Glory to Ko, Warrior indeed.

Up, up, up they marched, still 80 strong and hungry for war. Not tired out by the climb up were these purple men. As they came upon the fortress the Sorcerer revealed himself once more, the Ulfire Captain leading Satiros before him. The Sorcerer spoke plainly. If they attacked he would order Satiros killed and the cage, now drenched in oil also, set alight with his friends still inside. He offered a simple deal, he would escape, the Captain as a witness, and then for one hour travel north, afore the Captain would give the signal to his guards to stand down. The lives of the Slavers were forfeit, but the Sorcerer promised hideous retribution from Carcosa itself should he be harmed. Asking only that Satiros be allowed to accompany them as a sign of trust, cunning Ko assented.

Grimly they marched down, Satiros mustering inner powers, the evil Ko preparing another ruse beyond earshot, surrounded by Purple Men. When asked to leave his weapons, the Sorcerer, still arrogant behind his field of force though he was defeated, simply laughed. “Next time we shall meet it you shall be food for the Old Ones,” said he! To the Captain, anxious for news of reborn Carcosa,  he proclaimed that Carcosa lives and would live forever, to feast and cavort upon the flesh of sacrifices. Ko asked he remove his helmet and look him in the eyes . Humouring him, the Sorcerer relented, prompting Satiros to blow the Black Lotus dust, obtained so long ago from duplicitous Kalak, in his face, slaying him instantly. The Ulfire captain screamed murder and treachery but was quickly subdued by the purple men. It was then that Ko, who had talked well though he was monstrous, convinced him that if he would agree to give the all clear, he would not harm his men, allowing them to return to Carcosa and serve their Masters once more. Both swore oaths, one to Carcosa, the other to the Old Ones themselves, that his soul would be consumed if he lied.

As they returned to the Citadel, the all-clear was given and all were gathered around the great pit in the heart of the courtyard, disarmed and surrounded by Purple Men, Circe urging that they be slain. The Ulfire Captain looked at Ko and was apalled. Ko smiled a jackal’s smile as he explained quite simply, that he had vowed that HE himself would not bring harm to the Ulfire Men, but by right of conquest the fortress was beholden to the Purple Men, and they had made no such vow. Speechless, the captain watched as Circe approached.

“So, you wish to know of Carcosa?,” she cried, stepping forward. “THIS. IS. CARCOSA,” and thus she kicked him into the pit, the remaining Ulfire Men and Yellow lepers cast into it with them to the bloodthirsty cries of Purple Men.

Death toll: 22
[A] Rohnan (Specialist 1) the Incautious: Eaten by giant spiders
[B] Jaxxon Windwaker (Ftr 1) the Choleric :  Impaled by Spawn of Shub-Niggurath
[C] Mongo the Red (Sor 1) the Cautious :  Impaled by Spawn of Shub-Niggurath
[B] Klak (Specialist 1) the Mad : Skull crushed by Animate Snake-man statue
[B] Kristal (Ftr 1) the Unfortunate: Drowned in Quicksand
[D] Kakarot (Sor 1) the Stout: Beheaded by Jale Berserker
[A] Midros (Sor 1) Friend to Horrors : Bissected by Jale chieftain
[E] T’Click (Spec 1) the Traitor: Butchered by treacherous Ulfire men
[B] Kris (Spec 1) Eater of Entrails: Gutted by Elite Yellow Temple Guardian
[D] Rake (Ftr 1) the Doomed: Devoured by Dolm Worm
[A] Sayeed (Ftr 1) the Rash: Drowned in the Great River to be food for the creatures below
[A] Ronaan (Spec 1) the Gambler: Beheaded by the mighty Bone man champion in honourable single combat
[B] Jahlin (Spec 1) Slayer of Sorcerers: Taken by the invisble horror of the Great Canyon
[A] Menon (Spec 1) the Bold: Cut down by the vile and contemptible Ulfire Slavers
[B] Sarumon (Ftr 1) the Inheritor: Mind-wiped by alien technology and imprinted with memory and personality of the Master.
[E] Speaker to Animals (Sor 1) the Schemer: Mind-wiped by alien technology and imprinted with memory and personality of the Master. Body Slain by Tellurium Beam Weapon.
[B] Hannibal (Ftr 1) the Unprepared: Perished by the harsh clime and dangerous climb of the Tsaggasoth Peaks.
[D] Asuz (Ftr 2) the Reckless: Slain by the Gaze of the Sartoom
[B] Mordak (Ftr 1) the Defiant; Consumed by the Guardian
[A] Ragnar (Sor 1) the Brave; Struck down by the Ninefold Banes of Uyu-Jadh Mogh
[B] Ythrak (Ftr 1) the Liar: Beheaded in honourable single combat with the Lord of the Wastes
[B] Pharron (Spec 1) the Greedy: Felled by the arrows of the vile and contemptible Ulfire Slavers

Compatriots & Henchmen: 9
Burlap – Cut down by the Master of the Valley.
Sextus (the name of the Green Man) – Dissolved by Dolm Ooze (or Pudding).
Silent One (purple man) – Devoured by the Guardian
Hannibal (ulfire man) – Struck down by the Ninefold Banes of Uyu-Jadhmogh
Unnamed Purple man – Frozen to death. Eaten by his erstwhile companions
The Four Who Are One (Red men) – Struck down by a Master of Carcosa

Desertions and betrayals;
4 Brown Men – Deserted because of poor morale and abhorrent treatment.
The Captain of the Ulfire Men – Pledged allegiance to the City of Sorcerers, cast into the pit by Circe, chieftain’s daughter and warrior maiden.

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