Dr. Skull's Conan Cult Campaign : Session 2 Back to Dr. Skull's Conan Cult Campaign

Session/Game: Conan #2        Date: 4/4/04

Episode 2, "Curse of the Monolith"
Campaign Date: Year Of The Vulture, Month of Quidro, Days 1-4
GM: Dave "Dr. Skull" Nelson
Castel Zerano, Zingaran, Pirate, level 1 (Randy Wood)
Conrad, Hyperborean, Soldier, level 2 (Joe Fryer)
Demetrio the Red, Barachan, Pirate, level 1 (Pete Zollers)
Grimjob the Eunuch, Shemite, Soldier, level 2 (Andrew Smith)
Grodd, Cimmerian, Barbarian, level 1 (Bob LaForge)
Horsa, Vanir, Soldier, level 1 (Chuck Fleurie)
Lord Hieronymous Valanus, Aquilonian, Noble, level 1 (Mike Miller)
Limberger, Turanian, Borderer, level 1, (Toby Miller)
Vegeta, Southern Islander, Barbarian, level 2 (Marlon Kirton)
    Maria, slave girl, level 1 (flunky to Vegeta)

Several months had passed since Grimjob, Vegeta and Conrad had escaped the Eastern Desert. They had moved up to Zamoran and joined a mercenary unit of the Zamoran army. They were assigned to a squad commanded by an Aquilonian nobleman named Valanus. Several weeks later they were all assigned to go up to the mountain village of Stencovar and discover the fate of the local garrison, which seems to have disappeared, and to track down any enemies behind the disturbance. The squad numbered nine men in total, and set off on horseback up the trade road from Yezud toward the goat paths of the mountains along the Turanian border.

Day 1, Zamoran Mountains, in and around Stencovar
The squad was approaching the entrance to the valley of Stencovar when they spotted a hard-riding patrol of 16 Turanian horsemen. Although Horsa’s horse had thrown a shoe and he was in the last village getting it shod, Valanus deemed that he had enough men to take those Turanian jackals, and without parley or formalities, he ordered a charge. The fight was quick and bloody, with all the Turanians slain. Demetrio was grievously wounded nearly to death by the Turanian captain (a young noble named Koruna Khan who was then slain in the fight). One of Valanus’ two war dogs is speared to death by a Turanian. Grodd the Cimmerian took a beating too, since he had no mail.

Later that day they enter the village of Stencovar and make camp in the abandoned garrison. Limberger attempts to question the innkeeper, Jacomo of Shadizar (a.k.a. Smiling Jack) and a band of “prospectors” (cough, cough, smugglers) in the inn. The leader of the band, Berenike, refuses to talk to Limberger, vowing that she never tells cops nothing. Her bodyguard, a fierce Shemite named Ashanti is none to happy with the questions either. Later, Lord Valanus works his charms on Berenike and they go for a walk. On the walk, he pays her a bribe for information, and she reveals that the Turanians have gone mad, and one nobleman is scouring the Zamoran mountains for “kozaks” who have been abducting Turanian serfs and livestock at night. She suggests that either these supposed kozaks, or the Turanians might have wiped out the garrison. After their chat, Berenike gives Valanus a big kiss, and lifts his wallet.

Day 2, Stencovar
After spending the night in the garrison building, the squad awakes to discover one strange event. Vegeta’s trusty war spear is gone from his side. He tears the garrison apart, to find it under the bed of the comatose Demetrio. They never come to a successful explanation for the deviltry. Soon after dawn, Horsa rides into Stencovar, his horse re-shod. Right after his arrival, Hunda, the drudge who works for Smiling Jack at the inn, arrives bringing chicken and wine for the troops to eat. After forcing her to taste it, they pay her and send her on her way.

While Grodd, Demetrio, Castel, Horsa and Grimjob hold down the fort, Vegeta, Valanus and Conrad pay a visit to the local temple of the Spider God. The priest, Drellic, is mighty glad to see them at first. He, the temple dancing girl Julia, and Smiling Jack are the only three “real Zamorans” in the village. Drellic describes the local goat-herders and tradesmen as ‘degenerate dolts.” Indeed, the locals have a peculiar appearance with thick unibrows and long gangly arms. Drellic is convinced that Berenike and her thieves have murdered the garrison, and they should be destroyed. Julia, on the other hand, mistrusts the villagers, thinking they are involved in some evil devilment.

Vegeta is overcome with low contempt for the Spider God and attempts to deface the statue. Drellic entrances him with sorcery and then releases him. Vegeta then stabs him viscously, just as Conrad starts to paw his greasy mitts all over Julia. Valanus, his honor offended, manages to save Drellic’s life and Julia’s honor and hustles his men out the door. Vegeta further defaces the Spider God on his way out.

Day 3, Stencovar
Valanus orders the squad to search the old tower at the northern corner of the village. There Conrad notices that the rubble has been recently disturbed. They dig out the rubble and find the bodies of the garrison, all bound and with their throats cut. Demetrio has had more than enough of the truculence of the disrespectful goat herders and convinces Valanus to use some more direct means. The squad gathers the villagers together to get their stories about what happened to the garrison. Finally, after bribery and intimidation, they discover four villagers who confess that they helped “The Great One” dispose of the bodies. Valanus orders them buried alive.

During the subsequent search of the village, Julia turns up and says that Drellic the priest had disappeared in the night. She is inconsolable, fearing both the villagers and the mercenaries. Vegeta takes this opportunity to sneak into the Spider Temple and burn it to the ground.

Later that afternoon, near dusk, Maria (Vegeta’s slave girl) comes running down the road. She has a message from Drellic, asking Valanus to meet him at the chasm South West of the village. The squad moves out immediately, just as night falls. As they pass to the south they look around, and in the flashes of lightning in the night sky, the surrounding mountains suddenly appear as if titanic towers and walls of an obscene pre-human construction. The small hills around the village appear as grisly temple walls of a mind-boggling hugeness and inhuman ugliness. They also notice a large black obelisk south of the village.

Arriving near the chasm, which belches forth evil vapor, they send Limberger ahead to scout. He notices a man in the robes of a Spider priest standing near the edge of the chasm, playing a flute made of a human thighbone. After he returns to the squad, they all ride forward in a rush. When they reach the priest’s location they see he is now flanked by two huge man-apes, doing an eerie dance. The priest is quickly slain by two arrows and tumbles into the chasm. Grimjob is the first to attack the apes, grappling one hand to hand. Soon the squad swarms the apes and kills them, but not before one hurls Valanus’ other war dog over the edge of the chasm to its bone-crushing death.

They decide to inspect the black obelisk on their way back to the village. Horsa collapses from supernatural terror when he comes near to it. Grodd actually touches the stone and is driven stark, raving mad and must be restrained. Chilled by the ancient evil, the squad returns to Stencovar. By a strange twist of Destiny, Grimjob knows of a cure for a similar supernatural madness and applies it to Grodd, who recovers after six hours of sleep.

Day 4, Stencovar
After Hunda delivers another tub of grub from the inn, the squad rides out to the ancient, millennium-old fort that stands at the entrance to the valley. They spend a fruitless day searching through it and return to the village at nightfall.

As night falls, Julia comes to the garrison and pounds on the door. At first she screams when Conrad opens the door, but Valanus reassures her and she enters. She complains that the villagers have burnt down the temple (cough, cough, Vegeta) and some have been following her all day with drawn knives. She asks for a cup of wine. When she drinks of it, she drops into a deep slumber and is not revived by any easy method. They squad discuss what’s going on, but when some of them absent-mindedly drink the wine, they too fall asleep. Eventually, their squad mates manage to revive them all. At last, they suspect the wine is drugged, and that perhaps Smiling Jack is behind all the plotting. They make every outward sign that they have all been drugged, and wait in ambush. Eventually, a large crowd of 32 goat herders enter the garrison to finish off the mercenaries. But, Demetrio leaps forward first and the rest of the squad follow, slaying all the peasants in an orgy of hacking. One villager, pinned to the wall by a spear, chokes out “You’re too late, the Great One completes the Call at the Black Stone!” before he dies.

The squad rushes forth to the black stone, to see that humble Hunda the Drudge, is actually the leader of the foul witch cult. She has 6 acolytes about her (the seven was killed wearing the priest’s robes at the chasm) and a dozen and a half peasants about them. The warriors wade into the witches, exacting a high butcher’s bill. It is only the foul defensive flame of the acolytes that wounds Conrad, Horsa and Grodd nearly to death. Just before Castel slays her, Hunda completes her summoning, and the Toad God of Stencovar appears over the obelisk. Only the hand of destiny keeps more of the squad from swooning in terror and they do battle with the Toad, slaying it before it can devour the bound sacrifices lying nearby. The squad frees a large number of Turanians who were bound there as sacrifices (as well as Drellic the Spider Priest, who was being saved for the final sacrifice).

The village of Stencovar is no more. The witch cult is destroyed. The Zamoran garrison is avenged. The mercenaries clear out in a hurry before the Turanians realize that they have killed Karuna Khan, the son of a powerful Turanian lord. Despite having freed many Turanian captives, once the Turanians get wind of things, the future of the 9 mercenaries in Zamoran service will be short and not fruitful. So, soon after they collect their pay in Yezud, they make for the open road.