The Price of Corruption
Boroff barges into the room, livid with rage, yelling at Og’olo the Ancient in a strange language and gesturing frantically. The two have a brief but heated argument and then the Ancient throws a lever, causing raw arcane energy to erupt from four equally spaced chimneys along the wall. A field of raw arcane power fills the wide expanse between him and Boroff.
Boroff turns towards the party and begins barking orders, “Rannor, take Wodewick from here. His soul is weak and the flesh-binder will destroy him.”
As Rannor shoulders the comatose druid and flees the alcove, Daren wavers on his feet, falters, and collapses. Some dark force in the chamber is suppressing his still weakened presence. The remaining party members pour into the main chamber. There is another alcove at the opposite end of the chamber from Og’olo and his captives that hides two of the towering flesh monstrosities, a sarcophagus of glowing liquid, and stairs down.
Pau begins closing on Og’olo, but finds his movement slowed by the arcane field. Tarak and Bami turn the opposite direction to confront the brutes. Both flesh monstrosities then hammer Tarak to within an inch of consciousness. Suddenly, Pau finds himself falling as Og’olo pulls the lever again and the floor drops away, but manages to break his fall with an artful tumble. From the bottom of the pit, he can see a crawling lumbering mass of failed and incomplete flesh monstrosities, teeth gnashing for fresh flesh and clawed appendages dragging them towards him.
Spells fly from the fingertips of Mika and Garret, damaging and slowing the brutes, as Tarak fells the first with a series of whirling attacks. The hum of the slowing field subsides and Og’olo’s blood drain power envelops the party, sapping their life and weakening them. Malharath invests the totality of his psionic powers into single blow that frees almost everyone from the arcane debilitation. In the meantime, Pau shakes off the fall, closes to the wall and then hurls himself upward and out of the pit. Seeing the slowing field dowm, Malharath jumps to a ledge along the wall in the hope of aiding Pau against the flesh-binder and his thrall. As Bami and Tarak battle the last monstrosity, with the help of Mika and Garret, Og’olo and Pau trade blows, and battle over the lever, activating and inactivating the slow field.
The second monstrosity falls, and full attention turns towards the flesh-binder and his thrall, with Bami being the next to clear the ledge. Boroff, Mika, and Garret hurl spells across the gap, targeting the shambling mass of failures as it clears the pit. Pau regains his senses, resumes the fight, and raises the floor of the pit. A wounded Og’olo raises his arms high and causes the flesh to flay from the bones of one of the captives and then binding it to the body of Squawk, making it his own.
The swarm of failed creations turns it attention towards Garret, and begins its writhing advance. A massive blue orb of arcane cold leaps from the sorcerers hands freezing a mass of the mob, but it ponders forward, undetterred. As it draws near, it lashes out with a mass of fused appendages and knocks the sorcerer off his feet. Saliva drips from gibbering mouths of the mindless failures as it prepares to feast on the prone fangling. Garret furiously unleashes the violet mists of disarray that pour through the creatures, choking the last of them once and for all.
Battle continue between Og’olo, his thrall and Bami, Tarak, Pau, And Malharath. Squawk’s mighty blows stun and knock back those that approach him, while Og’olo wields his ancient metal blade with deft precision, magically suppressing the vitality of those that draw near him. Once again, he magically rends flesh from the bones of a captive, fusing it with his own and that of his thrall.
The party doggedly advances on the Ancient flesh-binder and his thrall, trading blows and vying for control of the lever. Finally, Bami crushes the skull of the thrall with his axe, dropping him to the floor. Og’olo, facing the full might of the party alone, drops to his knees and pleads for mercy in his strange ancient tongue. Boroff advances on the demented thing and dispatches it with an impaling blow to one of its four eyes, and then issuing a deep shuddering sigh slinks off to the corner and collapses.
Mal goes to Boroff to learn who this terrible creature had been. Og’olo, Boroff explains, had been a high druid companion of the great druid Corala. He had turned from the ways of nature and used forbidden knowledge that the council had brought from the sealed vaults thousands of years ago. It was this knowledge that allowed Og’olo to survival several millennia. He had become a flesh binder. Boroff explains that Drugal’s race, The Ancients, had been born of Chaos rites by the Draconian. But, they had grown wise and locked away all the evil secrets they learned from the days of their incarnation. After the Great War and Lir’s destruction, Og’olo had completely reverted back to the ways of their darkest ancestors. He had devolved into a creature of Chaos. It had broken the piece of Boroff’s heart that belonged to Drugal to see one of his people so far fallen from the path of Lir.
Meanwhile, QQ and his last companion are freed from their shackles. Their bodies covered in bruises and cuts, while the memories of their ordeal is a haze of pain. Bami and Tarak investigate the glowing sarcophagus, which appears to be filled with corrupted fey essence, a form of anti-life that steals life from one being and invests it in another. This was how Og’olo survived the many millenia after Lir’s destruction. Boroff joins them, and leads everyone downstairs, deep in thought, seeking out something. He approaches a set of double doors leading from the pit, slowly opens them, and gasps in disgust. Inside is a massive chaos orb, entwined with the lines of powerful fey energy that converge in the chamber. It is this abominable joining of fey and chaos the fuels the corrupting sarcophagus.
He slams the door closed and announces, “You must go! I am destroying this place and all it represents.”
As Boroff prepares a might ritual powered by his Alchemists fire, most of the party helps QQ and his captives to safety and pillages as much metal as they can from the complex. Malharath, helps Daren, still debilitated from the corrupted fey energy, from the ruins and then begins searching for Rannor and Wodewick, while he recovers.
He finds their tracks outside, initially heading towards Lir’s temple, but then veering towards a pile of rubble near the cliff wall. Behind the rubble, Rannor’s tracks lead down a small cavern and into a circle lined with strange markings. There, they disappear. Having no understanding of what this might be, he seeks out Garret and Mika in hopes they can provide insight.
The two have a rudimentary knowledge of the ancient device, a Rune Portal. Garret, in particular, knows their power, having been instantly transported from Buma-tu to Marlone by the Veiled Alliances use of one. It appears the this one was recently activated, but neither arcane user can master the use of the device.
As final rights of the ritual are prepared, Boroff explains the portals. They allow travel from one crossroad in the ley lines to the next, and were weakened by Garlic when he destroyed the Catacombs of the Ancients thousands of years ago. The portal should not have worked without a way to activate it. He asks if Rannor had a fey fuser to activate the portal. Perhaps he had found one on the Necromancer they killed so long ago on the shore? The mystery only deepens the more they think of the possible answers.
Unable to solve the mystery and needing to find shelter as Boroff readies the might of his alchemist fire as the trigger for the destruction of the corrupted complex, the party fortifies themselves in Lir’s temple. There is a massive explosion far off, shaking the walls of the temple. Boroff, singed and covered in dust and dung, comes in the temple doors, exhausted and weary from the rites.