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SESSION 18: Cracking Open a Couple of Cold Ones
Igan and Eggsy looked through the house for clues, while Lena went in search of literature and Sklooh scoured the place for food. There were footprints in the dust leading into the house and up to the chair where the man had been restrained, and then out of the house again. There were a few fables that Lena found, but there were also many books that had apparently been taken from the house. There was no food to speak of but some rotten corn meal.
On the way outside, Igan caught a glimpse of something moving in the distance. A skittering tree-branch which his experience helped him to identify as another mimic. He chased it down, with the party in pursuit, and Igan beat the filthy shape-changer into a pulp. Sklooh and Kasj went back to the first house to make a fire and burn the body of the rabid man for food, but Lena, Eggsy, and Igan went on ahead when they saw another house.
That house was completely abandoned and there was little evidence of anyone having been inside for many years. From their position at that old building they could see two others in the distance, though. They decided to investigate further, and third house happened to be occupied by two men--both as rabid as the first, but utterly unrestrained. Eggsy used his Cleric powers to not only detect their undead nature, but send one of them cowering before Bismuth's holy might. They "killed" the aggressive man, and attempted to subdue the other before finding that it was too difficult and ending him as well. At this point, Lena focused her magical abilities and detected that these people were indeed undead zombies, but that someone has been preserving them from decay. There was no way of telling how long they had been dead.
Looking around that house, Eggsy was the unfortunate one to fall into the trap of another mimic. It attacked and latched on to him, intending to make Eggsy its meal, but they managed to defeat the creature without the assistance of Kasj and Sklooh. Even more unfortunate was that Igan's paranoia-fueled rage caused him to assault the mimic long after it was dead, injuring Eggsy severely in the process. Once Lena and Eggsy both finally brought Igan down from his confused state of friendly-fire, the group decided to find Sklooh and Kasj and settle down that day for rest.
When they awoke that evening, they continued their search with the fourth shambled home. In it, they found a family of five--a man, woman, and three children--all suffering the same condition as the other people in this area. They decided to bypass it, and after going to the fifth house where a woman and her two children tried to bust through the window to feed on their flesh, the party retreated to a large stone building covered with moss and small vines.
The party conducted some hazing by throwing Kasj onto the roof and letting her fall to the ground, despite having two flying party members. Eventually, Igan walked around the building to find the front door. The Pillarmen when in and found a large, empty, cross-shaped chamber with a single door leading to another room and a passage downward into the underground. Sklooh discovered two sets of footprints leading down the passage--the man's from before (identified by the limp), and a set of large paw-prints. First, the troupe decided to search the room. They found a sort of item storage or treasury, most of which had been plundered. A few magical items were left behind, and after identifying them with magic, it was discovered that they were cursed items with drawbacks for their advantages.
Kasj led them down underground using a magical light to illuminate the passage, and they left their haul of cursed items at the entrance to the first level. The passage led them about fifty feet underground before opening up into rooms and hallways, which was infested with skeletons that were easy enough to kill, but still posed an inconvenient threat. The first floor below seemed to be some kind of torture chamber. They continued on and found another staircase which led them down another twenty or so feet before opening up into the second level below. This floor had many more skeletons, and also traps set throughout what appeared to be a cell black for holding prisoners.
Upon coming to the third floor below, they were met with an uncharacteristic chamber. A library of sorts, with untitled, large tomes adorning large bookshelves which covered the walls. A few were missing, but Lena and Eggsy took a few down and perused. It seemed like all of the books were biographies written about criminals--mostly murderers. Oddly, the backs of the books and the hundreds of pages preceding the back covers were left entirely blank. Lena ripped out a page to see what would happen, and nothing did. Eggsy identified one of the books and was introduced to a shocking truth.
These books were not books. They were people. The Identify spell did not work in full due to the nature of these "items," but he gathered that these books were actually persons with their memories scrawled out on the pages. Turning to the few pages shy of the blanks parchment revealed the depraved ravings of mad men deprived of all their natural senses--monologues of their imprisonment as a conscious book--being written out before them in real time.
Lena tried to mend the page magically--to no avail.