Facing the Faceless

The Heroes Assemble!

This one goes up to eleventy.

A bit later than they would have preferred, a goliath warden and two dwarves, a shaman and a sorcerer, stumbled into the village of Karabshai. Halted at the gates by the guards, the weary travelers were asked to aid the locals with a… distasteful chore. The lowest caste, known as the Dajit, had attempted an uprising. The revolt had been put down, the crematorium was stoked, and all that was needed now was someone to drag the corpses to their funeral pyre. Such work was fit only for Dajit in Niyati culture, but the other Dajit refused to touch the corpses, even when threatened with the lash. They needed foreigners unconstrained by Niyati etiquette to perform the task, and the reward was a hefty five hundred gold pieces, sponsored by the local church of Erathis. Seeing a chance at easy money for light work, the travelers reluctantly agreed.

They had no idea what atrocities lay in wait for them. As they entered the town, they saw bodies strewn across the public square, and were informed by guards that more bodies waited both in the regular tavern and in a hovel where the uprising had originated from. They entered the hovel to find a strange and unsettling sight: Several dozen desiccated corpses neatly arranged in a circular configuration, heads facing inward, all staring heavenward. A magic circle of runes encompassed the ring of bodies. More strangely, one of the corpses held an elegant ramshorn, lined with silver and filled with a glowing, violet liquid. The goliath was oddly drawn to the drinking goblet, and like the gnome before him, drank deeply of its contents. Visions assailed him: Wisps of purple smoke pouring from the mouths of the corpses twined together in the center of the hovel, reaching towards a blinding light in the heavens. The apparition sent his wits screaming and his sanity scattered; he dropped to the floor, unconscious. Dismayed by the irrational actions of their compatriot and convinced their job was something more than the locals let on, the two dwarves set off for their benefactor, the church of Erathis.

The church was a well-appointed place, but completely dark; the ancient priest had been asleep and was quite cranky when awakened. The dwarves intimated that the priest of Erathis was remiss in his duties by not caring for his flock, but he curtly explained to the dwarves the necessity of burning the bodies- otherwise, their unsettled spirits would haunt the village as powerful undead! Furthermore, the temple’s coffers funded the travelers’ endeavors, and they had agreed to the job, which counted legally as a contract under Thyatian law. If they refused to complete the job, they would be considered criminals, with significant legal consequences. Unwilling to break the law, the dwarves returned to their grisly task.

After disposing of the bodies in the hovel, they then approached the public square. Strangely, they observed that while there were quite a few more desiccated corpses, several bodies were freshly dead, devoid of the rot and aging the other corpses had suffered. They decided to investigate the corpses at the inn immediately…

At the inn, they encountered some old friends, gnomes they had adventured with before. The gnomes, however, were quite offended when they discovered the dwarves’ task, and refused to turn over the corpse of the barkeep, insisting he required a proper burial. Words were exchanged, and the gnome insulted the family of the dwarven shaman. Enraged, the shaman asked an apology or blood, as tradition required; the gnome rogue drew her blade and a brief but vicious fight ensued in the night over the corpse. The warden, recovered from his strange trance, heard the fighting and ran to the inn, which alerted the guards. Together they charged upstairs and broke up the fight, and the sorcerer took away the corpse of the barkeep to the crematorium.

Reluctantly, the two groups shared stories of the exceedingly strange occurrences of the evening. The goliath recognized the artificer’s visions and prophecies as similar to his own- they had seen the image of a robed sage with eyes like jewels, imploring them to fulfill the Prophecy by bringing freedom to the children of Niyati. They agreed to seek out wiser counsel than themselves, and visit the nearby village of Fombe…

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Amphiprison

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