The Northwild: Manifest Destiny

Session 26: Religion's Been Berry, Berry Good To Us

In which a small village hides a terrible -- if incredibly obvious -- secret.

In Attendance: Flint, MacDougal Wyth, Saza, Iskandar.

Hey, people:

Here’s that mission report you wanted.

  • Headed east-and-southish in the hopes of tracing where the Crawling Throne came from. Discovered that hobgoblins have established a training camp in the ruins of Old Barstow. Mac’s friend/convert Captain Vientuk is in charge of it. Seems they’ve decided that they own all of the Vikings’ territory now. So that’s a thing.(Mac’s Note: Vientuk is clearly keen to work with us, and appears to be developing a conscience: he’s leaving cache boxes with travel supplies for strangers which is very unhobgoblin).
  • We crossed the loch and headed up the mountains. Surprise — there’s a village up there we’d somehow missed before. Darklighter Heights, mostly human peat farmers. Seems the vikings raided them about once a year, so they were pretty happy (Mac:They were thrilled. Don’t underplay this.) to find out we offed Verthrax. Threw us a little shindig for our troubles.
  • Spent the night there. Deputy mayor’s good people. Next day, woke up to find we were stuck in a blizzard. Decided to stay another day. Helped a farmer find his goats.
  • The next day, we headed to the next village they knew about, a rivertown called Stone’s Throw. Kind of a shithole, honestly. Found them in the middle of a big festival (Mac:A revival) in a tent. Specifically, seemed to be some kind of a religious thing… a speaker talking about some kind of a new god — “the Worm Below” — oh, yeah, just couldn’t wait to see how this went…
  • We talked to the religious leader, Deacon Harlan, after he finished his sermon, as he seemed to be the one in charge. Said he lost his family during the last raid, and the Worm Below saw him as, I quote, “an empty vessel to be filled.” Got all offended when Mac tried to cast a spell. (Mac: He caught me trying to cast detect magic. I played it cool and cast Create Food and Water, which they enjoyed. And then Deacon Harlan used words too big for Sir Calaph and I (Iskandar — in big wolf form — wandered off as we were talking.) Asked him about the Crawling Throne — he said that the Worm told him that something like that came out of the waters to the far east and headed north. Didn’t come in their direction.
  • Finally, I just came out and asked if the Worm Below was an evil god. (I mean, we all knew where this was going, right?) For some reason, Mac and Saza (Mac:__ I back handed the boy for 6 damage and took him to task for somehow being RAISED BY ELVES and being the single tactless person I have ever met__) didn’t seem to like this. Deacon wasn’t a big fan of it either, but it’s not like he would be.
  • Anyway, so then we let the Deacon trap us in an enclosed space put us up in his house for the night. Iskandar came back and told us that he found a barn where a lot of blood and bleeding creatures have passed through into a trap door. Also, a half-snake half-man locked in a nearby house. That obviously boded well.
  • Against our better judgement, we got up early the next morning (weirdly enough, they didn’t try to kill us in our sleep) and investigated the barn. Who coulda guessed, trap door led to an underground temple. Found the deacon guy down there, now half-snake himself, consuming his old, shed human skin (gross.)
  • Asked the first big question that had been on all our minds: if they were all snake people, why do they call their god the Worm Below? (Worms, snakes — very different things, right?) He said that’s just what it chose to call itself. Weird. Gods gotta god, though, I guess.
  • But yeah, they were totally doing the whole human sacrifice thing — Vikings, sure, but Harlan even said it wasn’t going to stop there. So we put him down. Mac used this disease spell thing that kept him on the ropes the whole time, which was nicely done. Bit of a shame, to be honest. For an evil homicidal snake cultist, he didn’t seem like all that bad a guy.(Mac:He was a bad guy. A well intentioned monster who would accrue power by making us food and boots at the drop of a hat.)
  • Soon as the Deacon was dead, of course the cultists came pouring down. And of course the Worm Below turned out to be an actual creature, not just one of those metaphorical things, that came tearing its way into the temple. Huge terrifying multiheaded snake-hydra thing — Saza looked it up later on, said it was called an anna-themer, something like that? (Mac: Anathema. Minor snake God.). Saza threw some feisty well placed Fireballs, Flint lit up the floor with spike growth, and Mac summoned the power of his ancestor James, Page of Bards, to protect them harm at various points.
  • We got back to work. Iskandar saved some trapped snakes (regular snakes, I think, not people snakes), and filled an entire room with wolves. (Mac: Basically Isk made himself himself a Wolf Trap)
  • The Worm Below frightened Saza and Flint for a bit (WHY DID IT HAVE TO BE SNAKES) before they re-found their resolve.
  • At one point, Mac got separated from the rest of us. Wormy McHugeSnake had him on the ropes. So I ran up and shoved my very last magic bean down one of the thing’s throats. Which exploded into this huge geyser of… some kind of berry juice, I guess? Mac finished the thing off a few seconds later, but that was how their god died — spraying berry juice out of every orifice.
  • Finished off the last cultist afterwards. Went upstairs with the thing’s head to confront the town, but found all the villagers had cleared out. So we looted the temple and decided to call it there.
  • Sum it all up: tried to track down the Throne’s origin, instead discovered two villages, one normal we might be able to do trade with, one with killer snake people that’s now empty. Hobgoblin situation remains fucked.

Signed,
Flint

amendments by Mac

Rewards

  • 4750 XP
  • 10000 gp
  • Head of yuan-ti anathema
  • Potion of speed
  • Potion of supreme healing
  • Potion of invisibility
  • 10 +3 arrows [deals additional 1d6 poison damage] → Flint
  • Kris knife of sacrifice +1 → Saza
  • Deacon Harlan’s Journal (contains special ritual that grants a warlock ability) → Saza
  • Unlocked locations: Darklighter Heights, Stone’s Throw (deserted)

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