Outlaws & Obelisks: Episode Eight - "In the Foothills of Fear"

10/21/2021

After fleeing Al-Maghrib, the party regroups under cover of night to hide from the Barbarossa search parties. Mystery, tragedy, and paranoia hang in the air as our heroes hatch a plan to summon and trap the Angel of Death himself...

In a land ravaged by a magical cataclysm, a small band of heroes rides in search of answers, revenge, and redemption. Join them as they adventure across the wild and wonderful land of Utaram!Starring:Connie Chang as Chang Hushi (Goliath Chronurgy Wizard) Jonathan Charles as Onuris Budge (Simic Hybrid Moon Druid/Beast Barbarian) Jasper William Cartwright as Tovo "Rust" Reeves (Reborn Tiefling Gunsmith Artificer)Luyanda Unati Lewis-Nyawo as Panya (Kalashtar Great Devourer Warlock) Emily Axford as Lu'luh Jacksplit (Aasimar Glory Paladin)  and Jeremy Cobb as our Resident DM!

Content Warning: Body Horror and General Strong Horror ElementsDetailed Description: Due to Nebet and Budge's stellar efforts (and a 21 Survival check!), our heroes manage to regroup in the foothills of the Adrassian Mountains by 8pm. They can still see search parties in the distance as they begin forming their plan to trap Anupaz and question them about what's going on. Panya excuses herself to commune with Ammut, whom she describes to the party as her "people", and convinces her to schedule a meeting with Anupaz for the following day at noon. She explains to the rest of the group that after her husband left for the war she was lonely and afraid, so she went down to the crossroads and made a deal with a supernatural entity who has been helping her ever since. The group is touched by her sincerity and decides to trust her, agreeing to limit themselves to non-damaging spells during the meeting as long as Anupaz doesn't escalate the situation.Hushi then begins copying the Magic Circle spell into their spellbook, a process which requires them them to roll 3 DC 25 Arcana checks. They can lower the DC by expending spell slots, which lower the DC by an amount equal to the spell's level (1st level spells lower DC by 1, 2nd level spells lower it by 2, etc.). Each failed Arcana check results in the loss of one of the three spell scrolls, meaning they can only afford to fail 3 times before they can no longer copy the spell. The rest of the party pitches in to help, expending spell slots to help lower the DC and donating mag dust to give Hushi advantage on the checks. Budge even lends Hushi his hat so they can use the 2nd level spell contained within. It comes down to the wire, but after 6 straight hours of feverish work and huge amounts of help, Hushi is successfully able to copy Magic Circle into their spellbook!The planning continues into the wee hours of the morning. The party decides to sneak onboard the inaugural journey of the Transwestern Railway, where they'll cast one regular Magic Circle for themselves to hide in and one inverted Magic Circle to trap Anupaz inside. Panya briefly suggests blowing up the train to kill as many people as possible and hopefully appease Anupaz, but this idea gains no traction and earns her further suspicion from her fellow party members. They divide the extra spell scrolls between Lu'luh and Nebet so both of them can cast the spell if need be. Meanwhile, Budge uses the map to identify 3 potential spots for them to intercept the train's journey, all of which happened to be near landmarks Budge had marked in his travels. The closest is two hours away, near a "good picnic spot" along a cliffside overlooking the Glass Sea. The second is three hours away, near some "Friendly Rocks", but is also uncomfortably close to the "Big Fuckin' Wasps". The third is four hours away in the sand dunes, which offer ample places to stage an ambush but are threatened by the infamous "Utaram Bull Worm". Since time is short, the party decides to suspend their planning so they can get a Long Rest and be ready for Anupaz the next day.Still shaken by the events of the day, Budge plays a familiar melody on his flute before going to bed. He 's clearly bothered by something, but he decides to do what he's done for decades now and keep his pain to himself. Meanwhile, Hushi has another dream/vision of Herru Hampton's soul being approached by the Angel of Death himself. In the course of a brief conversation, Anupaz reveals that he serves Ammut, whom he refers to as his "mistress". He judges Herru unworthy and before sucking her soul into a pair of jaws that opens up in the belly of his eye-covered torso. As Hushi desperate shouts are drowned out by the howling wind, Herru's soul is dragged into a realm of endless flames. Hushi snaps awake and discusses with Tovo the implications of what they just saw. The pair realizes that Anupaz is likely serving Ammut because of an unspecified deal that he made with her, and that Ammut is also the likely identity of Panya's mysterious "people". While they talk, the sleeping Budge fails a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw, causing his body to undergo a gruesome transformation into the gelatinous form of Lil' Oozie, which begins slithering towards the corpses of Vile Mouth and Vicious Barbarossa. The party jumps into action; throwing hands, firing bullets, and blasting spells. After a short and panicked battle during which Lily is dispelled and Lu'luh is knocked unconscious, our heroes manage to damage the ooze enough for it to slide back into Budge's unconscious form.As Budge comes to, we get a detailed description of what he saw: his village, shattered by the Calamity. The townspeople have been fused into the very stones that make up their village. Budge, his body still unstable from the Calamity's effects, staggers into his home to discover that his eight year-old daughter was among the casualties. His wife still clings to life, her torso extending out of the wall of the house. As Budge desperately tries to find a way to save her, she begs him to end her agony. Through tears, Budge grants her request, ending her pain and her life. The vision ends and Budge flies into a rage. As the rest of the party tries to comfort him, they hear a commotion off in the distance. They turn to see that the noise of their battle has alerted a veritable army of Barbarossa gang members, who now ride hard across the plains, converging on their location.To Be Continued in Episode Nine

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