Road to Ravenloft

South to the Sea, part III

The party descended to the pitch-dark basement, hearing the sound of mumbled prayers to the right, and gnawing on bone from straight ahead. Investigating the prayers, they found Boris Tulley, the brewmaster of the monastery, tied to a table. He had been mutilated, cut open, flesh flayed away, and appeared to be barely clinging to life.

He told the party that Father John, before his departure, had been experimenting with a powerful psychoactive drug found in the mushrooms that grew on the mountainside around the monastery. The visions he received from these mushrooms helped him in his mystic journeys investigating the planes of existence. Tulley things that something he found on one of these mystic journeys caused him to leave the abbey.

After Father John’s departure, the other monks discovered the secret of the mushrooms. They began using them more and more, without the moderation and careful dosages that Father John used. They began to have visions of an otherworldly being, which they spoke of as a great maw of chaos that would devour the world. They spoke of a faceless master who came to them and gave them rituals designed to prepare the way for the coming of this being — among other things, they were commanded to mutilate themselves in the image of the maw, and to eat the flesh of their comrades.

Tulley warned the party that a half-dozen of his former mates still lay within the crypt to the north, and would soon attack. He asked for the party to free him and give him the means to end his life should the party fail to slay the undead monks, to end his miserable torture. The party obliged, and began the fight.

Part way through the combat, a door farther into the room opened. From the door came more of the monks, along with a being that could only be the faceless master that had been referred to by Tulley’s brethren as they followed their descent into madness. The being stood still as a statue in the center of the room as the party fought its servants, bolstering their morale until the party began to approach victory. It then made its way slowly toward the exit, finally leaving with the death of the last zombie monk.

Meanwhile, Boris Tulley lay in the dark room nearby, finally freed, but fighting against hunger from his long torture. Having been fed human flesh and blood by his brethren at the direction of the faceless master, he had finally crossed the line between true human and undead ghoul. Finally unable to hold off his craving any longer, he sprang upon the party at their weakest. Grabbing Quinn, he tried to gain strength by rending her flesh, but was quickly disposed of by the party.

Following the combat, the party investigated the sanctum of Father John. They found many notebooks and scrolls describing his mystical journeys. Although many of them had been destroyed in full or in part, the party were able to piece together that Father John had been investigating legends and myths about a being known only as the Red Devourer. Something he discovered made him fear that he would become a target of forces trying to bring upon the world the coming of the Red Devourer — a coming which could result in the extermination of all life, sucked into the Devourer’s maw.

The party returned to the brewery, where they used Tulley’s notes and the venom from the cockatrices they slew to brew two potions of cure light wounds and an oil of stone to flesh. They returned to Curt Gresham in Eel Crossing to give him their news of the monastery. Gresham, without his main source of stock, sat drinking the dregs of his barrels, contemplating closing his inn, as the party moved on toward the coast.

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