The Adventures of Annalax: Volume XVII
Session Thirty-Five. We have had some in-game and out-of-game indication that we are drawing to the end of the Dreamland adventure… which has lasted since the fourth session. Getting back to the Waking World will require some mental adjustment, especially considering that Annalax has spent thirty-odd sessions not having to worry about anti-Drow racism.
Anyway… it turned out that we had two hooks to pursue into the Mountains of Madness: (1) a suitable sacrifice to the Wild Huntsman, to get him to protect Arcadia, and (2) getting some black iron, to enable Arcadia to more effectively fight the Fae.
But before we departed for the Mountains, Annalax had a couple of items on his to-do list. Firstly, he wanted to learn all he could about the Mountains. He’d had a bad experience with Leng and Kadath, and did not fancy a repeat. Secondly, he wanted his quid pro quo for assassinating Manfrey and restoring the War Council. Namely, the establishment of a shrine to Her Ladyship underneath the city.
Not much could be gleaned on the Mountains. Alas. But since the party would have a hundred soldiers along to collect any available black iron… it couldn’t be that bad, could it?
On the shrine… Annalax forked out a staggering fifty platinum to some workmen to build it. You see, as Annalax draws to the end of his stay in the Dreamland, he wants to maximise his religious influence in the time he has left. That, and he thinks his continued survival hinges very much on Her favour. Ergo, he wants to stay in Her good-books through demonstrable acts of piety. The Ghoul helped too, not just with the digging, but also creating an appropriate stone idol. In fact, the Ghoul (courtesy of a natural 20 on a religion check), actually experienced a connection with Lolth in the process. Annalax was equal parts confused and excited at his goddess getting in touch with… a Ghoul. Clearly She works in mysterious ways.
The biggest issue surrounding the Shrine is hostility from the local War God Clerics. Annalax had the idea of putting traps inside, to ensure that only those familiar with the Shrine (and those accompanying them) could enter… but the builders were reluctant to cross the Clerics. Oh well. Annalax shall have to rely on bribed homeless people and the Power of Lolth to keep it safe. We shall see.
(As a side note, Ember does not approve of Lolth spreading her power in the Dreamland. So he tipped off the Clerics before we left. Annalax does not know this, of course. If he does find that Ember is responsible, I imagine him dobbing Ember into the Priestesses of Lolth when we hit the Waking World Underdark. Which would be interesting, in a bad way).
Then it was off, up the Mountains, just like old times.
Because this is a Lovecraft-themed adventure, the first creature we encountered was a colony of Giant Albino Penguins. A strange place to find penguins, sure. But it’s the Mountains of Madness. It just wouldn’t be the same without the Giant Albino Penguins, which in this case proved to be fundamentally harmless creatures, if a tad territorial. Tarsin even talked to them for a bit, in penguin form.
Speaking of speaking to things, the Ghoul belatedly realised something. He had the ability to Speak With the Dead all this time. And we had Godriel’s preserved corpse in a bag. The Ghoul’s player consoled himself that the Dungeon Master had forgotten this ability too.
We were permitted five questions for Godriel’s ghost, which were answered appropriately cryptically, but which have at least reassured us that certain things are indeed possible. It turns out that reviving Godriel as an undead is viable, that the Ember demons can be dealt with, and that Godriel never actually visited the Mountains of Madness, despite living right next to them. An undead Godriel poses some interesting problems for Alan the Wizard, though, given her romantic attachment. Poor guy can’t catch a break, even on the other side of the world.
(Since the Ghoul consumed part of Godriel’s flesh, he was also able to recall some of her memories. Yes, her thing with Alan was sexual).
Next up was a battle against a pair of gigantic tunnelling centipedes, one the size of a house, the other the size of a horse. Both did some real damage to our stockpile of Arcadian soldiers. Annalax eventually killed the smaller one, with his first critical hit in the entire campaign (including poison damage on his crossbow bolt, he dished out some 61 points in one round). Notwithstanding that Annalax attributes this to a sign of Her favour – he really is becoming quite the fanatic – the party later sacrificed the dead centipede to the Wild Huntsman. This heresy had better pay off.
The other centipede? Against the odds, we were actually able to talk to the damned thing, after it came back a second time. The centipede has low INT (4), so it was hardly a stimulating conversation, but it did know that there was some real apex predator around. And that the feeding grounds weren’t great these days. Exactly what this predator is has yet to be determined. Annalax imagines an Eldritch Horror, like that on the summit of Leng, but at this point it could be anything. Tarsin has already freaked out our Drow a bit with his mad ramblings about Shub-Niggurath.
The party nicknamed the centipede Robert, soon amended to Wobert in a Meet the Feebles reference.
The session concluded with talking to a plant (I am noticing a theme…), and running across a city’s worth of black iron.
Session Thirty-Six did not start with Annalax covering himself in glory. On arriving at the city, we did some cautious inspection, and discovered some sleeping Eldritch Things, which we were careful not to wake. Nor did we have to wake them – the accompanying soldiers were simply after the precious black iron. Annalax and Tarsin nabbed a suit of plate armour’s worth, for the purpose of on-selling later. We will get to that. The real problem? The party ran across a Shoggoth.
(It is the Mountains of Madness…)
Annalax’s first response? Hide, in preparation for a sneak-attack. Problem is, the Shoggoth saw him. Annalax hates it when he fails Stealth checks at +11 to Stealth. Then he failed a Wisdom Save against Fear. Chucking some Darkness at the creature, he ran like a little boy. Then he failed the Wisdom Save again. So he ran a full ninety feet again. Annalax had not done this much fleeing (action… bonus action… dash movement) since the Tower on the Moon. The cherry on top is that all this maxxed out his stress-levels, giving him Paranoia/minor insanity for the rest of the day.
The rest of the party had much more luck, eventually dispatching the Shoggoth after the Ghoul stunned it. The Ghoul was actually interested in eating the Shoggoth to gain its memories, but seeing as the creature only had 5 Intelligence, it was a disappointing experiment. It turned out that the local Shoggoths had also been doing quite the number on the Arcadian soldiers, so the plan was to head back down the mountain the next day. The black iron should hopefully do enough to satisfy the Arcadians, though goodness knows how this affects the Wild Huntsman.
Then it was back down the Mountain, and home in time for tea. Metaphorically speaking.
The underground shrine to Her Ladyship is still under construction. Clearly one cannot rush perfection. Tarsin and Annalax also approached one of the city War Clerics about on-selling that black iron armour. In the end, we sold it for three thousand gold pieces, a true bargain if ever there was one. Ember was rather miffed at this and demanded an equal share (supposedly on the basis that it’d be somehow stealing from the party otherwise). Both Tarsin and Annalax were rather miffed in return, on the basis that this was a side-project, with nothing to do with anyone else. But in the end, we shared the cash.
Speaking of secret side projects, Annalax and Tarsin did an additional search of Godriel’s House, nabbing both her carpet and a back-up spell-book. Oh, and the precious mementos she kept from her relationship with Alan. Annalax let his more… unpleasant… side out, by chatting with Godriel’s preserved corpse like a ventriloquist dummy. He had better hope undead Godriel does not hear about this later.
And speaking more of cash, Annalax and the Ghoul also did a late-night treasure run on the back-garden of the nobleman who had earlier purchased the tiefling horn aphrodisiac. Back-gardens were often used for coin storage in the pre-modern era, and sure enough, our nobleman was no exception.
More cash. Huzzah.
Then it was on to the Magical Item Shop for some purchases. Or rather sales. Annalax flogged off his Moondust stockpile at a truly bargain-basement rate (five hundred gold), but made up for it later…
- ANNALAX (disguised as a War Cleric via Disguise Self): “How does this Ring of Fog Cloud work?”
- SHOP OWNER: “You put in on, and say ‘hide’.
- ANNALAX: “Like this?” (puts ring on, and flees the shop).
Honestly, a Magical Item salesman should take more precautions…
But apart from the bastardry, the session concluded with an important development. The Fae Queen had literally drained her own forest in order to rebuild her army. The Fae were about to make another attempt at wiping out Arcadia.
And someone needed to get some inside information on this…
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