Dead Secrets of Ultima Thule

Prologue
Prelude to Tsathoggus' Malice

Nestled among the rolling hills of Beregor and the delta of the Kabrael River as it flows into the Western Sea, Ashkelon is a powerful city. Its prime location has made it a center of trade in the west of Ultima Thule. Day and night ships come in and out of the harbor bringing gold and obsidian from the south, ore and food from the north, and lustrous silks and pungent incense from the east; some legitimate, some illicit. A tributary state of the great Beregorii Empire, Ashkelon has long enjoyed much autonomy while receiving great protection from potential invaders. Gilded, jewel-encrusted domes adorn the towering spires of temples, administrative buildings, and the palace. With architectural influences from every conceivable culture and era Ashkelon lend the visitor mysterious sense of esoteric whimsy; one cannot help but wonder what ancient and nameless horrors are housed amongst the antediluvian temples and shrines of the city. Fabled Ashkelon, with wonders to sate desires both subtle and gross.

Discontent stirs amid the eccentric buildings of Ashkelon. Marius, prince of Ashkelon, has many political rivals and would-be usurpers who would see him slain. It is in this capacity that you were employed. An green-pallored, emerald-robbed aristocrat named Patroclus hired you to shake the prince loose from his mortal coil. A plan was concocted, coin exchanged, and on a moonless night you stole though the ancient, legend haunted streets towards the palace. Ingress was simplistic. After neutralizing the retinue of guards stationed between you and the royal apartments, you alighted quickly towards your quarry. What you did not expect was the two other assassins waiting just outside Marius’ door. Less did you expect the soldiers within the chamber.

Subdued, shackled, and dragged to the palace dungeon, it dawned on you that you had been set up by Patroclus. You have been left with but two choices: extricate yourself from your imprisonment, gain revenge; and abandon Ashkelon, or sit in your cell in anticipation of the death that is surely awaits you come the dawn…

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The Escape
Tsathoggus' Malice Part I

Realizing the dire straits in which you found yourselves, action quickly followed. Summoning his strength, Thorstein broke the chains from the cell wall and quickly went about liberating the monk and Kamarri. Using her esoteric training, the monk was able to keep the guards from noticing what transpired while Kamarri deftly picked the lock on the cell door. The Fates of Ultima Thule are cruel, however, and a misplaced dart gave the party away. More guards were summoned, and things escalated quickly. Swarmed by their captors, the party sprung into action to save themselves and ensure their freedom. A lack of weaponry made for a difficult time. By the time the party had re-equipped itself and smote five guards, one of their assailants had run off for reinforcements. With little break, the party was assaulted yet again by agents of the Lord Marshal.

Dispatching your foes, you quickly moved through the rest of the keep clearing out the remaining guards in the towers. One was executed with great cunning, while the other was able to grievously injure Thorstein. Taking time to patch your wounds, you attempted to ascertain the frequency and strength of the patrols in the courtyard between the gate and the keep. A mere seventy feet stretched out in front of you as a vast abyssal gulf. Your means of escape were less clear than they were in the dungeon. Before a decisions could be made, the Lord Marshal (whom men identified as Patroclus) took you unawares. This was not the eery, green-pallored “Patroclus” who had hired you to kill Prince Marius. Instead, before you stood a tall, dark-skinned man of noble aspect and athletic physique. A deft sword stoke and overwhelming forces left the party reeling. Rallying, you made short work of dog and guard. Patroclus found himself mortally wounded and disarmed.

In his last moments, the Lord Marshal of Ashkelon revealed that the man the party sought was in fact Shar Eil: Marius’ former vizier and priest of the haunting cult of the dreaded Tsathoggus. Partoclus explained that Shar Eil had fallen into disfavor among the court after the passage of Marius’ impiety laws. Further, Shar Eil blamed Patroclus for the investigation that revealed his sorcery to the royal court of Ashkelon. Patroclus revealed that a secret entrance into the catacombs beneath Ashkelon could be found in the guards’ chamber in the keep’s dungeon but promised the party would never make it out of the city alive. After granting Patroclus a merciful death, the party absconded to catacombs.

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The Catacombs of Ashkelon
Tsathoggus' Malice Part II

The catacombs stretched out before you, long and labyrinthine. The acrid smell of fetid water and decay clung to all the walls as you treaded through one foot of water. Without warning, a large snake fifteen feet in length wrapped itself around Kamarii. With great skill and greater luck, Kamarri was able to extricate himself from the serpent’s vice-like grip. From there the party made quick work of the beast, with Thorstein ultimately beheading it.

Moving through the catacombs, the party came upon a large chamber used to prevent flooding. Across the expanse was a tunnel guarded by four horrible demons. Kamarri and Chayaa were shaken to the very core of their being by the grotesque, other-worldly visages before them. Not wanting to risk a frontal assault, the party used the advantage of its position to remove the fiends one by one. The first of them fell through a coordinated, ranged attack. Each dretch was removed with similar celerity .

Scouting ahead, Kamarri discovered yet another chamber, albeit larger than the first. In the center of the chamber between access tunnels, a circle of arcane glyphs illuminated and pulsed as three, green-robbed individuals bearing the mark of Tsathoggus chanted in an unknown, degenerate tongue. Casting their hands to the ceiling, the pitch and timbre of their voices changed as the chamber erupted in spasmodic tremors. With great flourish, the apparent leader threw back his hood, revealing himself to be known other that the villainous Shar Eil. Kamarri retreated back to the party to recount his discovery.

Coming up with a plan to escape, the party made haste to exit the catacombs. Chayaa alone made it to the tunnel. As the others approached the exit, the hermetic ritual concluded as the two lesser cultists slit their wrists over the summoning circle. The room convulsed and summoning circle opened into a mystic portal out of which came stepped a bearded devil. The sheer horror of this creature from beyond the realms of human ken rendered Chayaa incoherent, stunned Kamarri, and left Thorstein experiencing dreadful hallucinations. Shaken but not inactive, the party sprung into action.

Thorstein immediately attacked Shar Eil, delivering a powerful blow with a battleaxe, an attack which appeared to reek havoc on the bearded devil as well.. Chayaa also focused her attention on the sorcerer, delivering kama attacks with the deft ability of a highly skilled martial artist. Kamarri used the distraction to deliver a devastating crossbow bolt into Shar Eil’s chest. The sheer ferocity of the assault caused Shar Eil to fall into the summoning circle and disappear from this plane of existence leaving only cultists and the devil behind. The party dispatched the remaining foes, but not before Chayaa suffered an unnatural wound from the glaive of the bearded devil. With the fiend defeated, Thorstein took its glaive, and the party exited the catacombs.

The tunnel the party followed terminated at the Western Sea. Finding themselves at daybreak on an open beach, it was decided that a ship must be found in order to flee the borders of Ashkelon. As Kamarri, Chayaa, and Thorstein approach the docks, they notice that there are armed guards searching all of the people and cargo. After narrowly slipping past the sentries, the party notices a two sailors sneaking a chest onto a ship. Running as fast as possible, the party jumped from the docks as the ship was puling away and landed on the deck amidst a rain of spears thrown by guards who were alerted by the party’s brash actions.

On the ship, the party immediately was surrounded by a group of pirates and their apparent leader. After a failed attempt at diplomacy on Kamarri’s part, the pirates attacked. Wielding his new glaive, Thorstein felt the a rush of bloodlust he’d never before experienced. Chayaa killed four pirates in the ensuing melee, but the party was ultimately overwhelmed by still more of the ship’s crew. Things were looking dire when out of the blue a whistle was heard. The source of the whistle appeared to be a finely dressed, dark haired woman brandishing whip and sword who slid down the rigging of the mainsail. Identifying the party’s main assailant as Salih, the woman introduced herself as Demetria Cofresi, captain of the Scorpion; names that evoked stories told of the notorious ship and her infamous, bloodthirsty captain. Since the party had killed five of her crew, Cpt. Cofresi offered them a simple proposition: service or keelhaul.

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Aboard the Scorpion
Corsairs of the Searing Coast

A fortnight is spent among the corsairs of the Scarlet Wave. During this time Chayya and Thorstein to know Captain Cofresi and the stoic Salih. Assigned to various tasks aboard The Scorpion, time passes relatively quickly. Several raids on cargo ships and the occasional military vessel transpire, but you are never brought along. It is clear that you need to earn the captains trust, Eventually, the captain invited Chayya and Thorstein individually to dine with her. Each was told they would be take ashore on the next outing. Thorstein is to be employed as a bodyguard and Chayya as an enforcer.

Meanwhile, Kamarri lingered in the brig of the ship. Time moved slowly as he was fed infrequently but well..While the others worked above deck, Kamarri was left to contemplate his fate, One day, he was released, cleaned up, and seated before the captain at a lavish, private meal. Captain Cofresi explained the crippling nature of the loss of Ashkelon, and employed Kamarri to find a new buyer for the captain’s most dangerous and lucrative score to date: The Ring of Khorala: one of the crown jewels of Beregor.

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