In the previous session of our Strange Aeons campaign, we arrived in a version of Paris, which was full of Leng Ghouls and undergoing a bit of a crisis of leadership. Though we didn’t need to, we had decided to help the ghouls on the side of Erich to try and restore rationality to the city.
Erich Zahn explained the situation to us. He had saved Paris from the worst of the effects of Carcosa, and had been trying to build a society of rationality here, but the ghoul Captain Armel had bullied his way to the top and was enacting a reign of brutal dictatorship.
We agreed to try to deal with Armel, so headed to his usual watering hole the Cabaret du Oubli, which was located in a part of the city that could only be reached via narrow backstreets. Our only issue was that we weren’t entirely certain that beating up/killing Armel was actually the right thing to do. It wasn’t as if we had any reason ourselves to dislike him, and he hadn’t yet done anything to us.
He had been ordering his men to take protection money and magical items from the people of the city, which was a count against him. Maybe if he tried it against us, then that would make it okay to defend ourselves. It all seemed like a rather dodgy way of trying to force a fight so we had an excuse to hurt him.
Fortunately, it turned out that we didn’t have to try too hard. As we headed towards the Cabaret du Oubli, we came across a ghoul Gendarme who was accosting a young woman. He noticed us, which gave an opportunity for the woman to run. He was in the service of Captain Armel, and demanded that we paid a fee for having a dragon with us – Ray had decided to take on the form of a human sized gold dragon. This was something we could object to, and we pointed out that there were several of us compared to just him, so maybe he should just turn around and walk away.
Instead he decided to blow a whistle, and half a dozen of his comrades quickly turned up, looking for a fight. They soon realised though that they were still probably outmatched. With a dragon (albeit small) on our side, Sheena and Gregor persuaded them to turn and leave. Except for one, who we instructed to lead us to where we could find their boss.
The Cabaret du Oubli had a gruesome facade of bones and skulls surrounding a monstrous open mouth. Outside were a few ghouls, one of them a woman cadging a smoke off a couple of men. They seemed friendly enough, especially the woman who struck up a conversation with Sheena. When she worked out that we were not here to make friends with Armel, she advised us that as long as we didn’t harm anyone other than Armel and his gendarmes, then the other patrons wouldn’t get involved. It seems Erich Zahn and his friends aren’t the only ones who disliked Armel.
Inside, the tables were shaped like coffins, and Armel was at a table at the far end. He was much larger than the other ghouls, and had a couple of lackeys with him. Sheena wandered up to try being ‘diplomatic’, but Armel wasn’t impressed, or particularly polite. He grabbed her and tried to bite her face off.
The gendarmes opened fire, shooting at Ray and Catiana, but Ray reacted and dropped a carefully placed fireball on top of them all, shaping it carefully to avoid anyone other than Armel and the gendarmes.
Sheena drew her rapier and stabbed at the large ghoul, whilst Erasmus dropped a flamestrike on them. Then I drew the lightning gun and fried Armel – dropping him dead to the floor. Finishing off the two gendarmes didn’t take much longer.
After a bit of a stunned silence, the other patrons started to applaud us and offered us drinks. There was much talking, and then mentioned that a large worm had eaten the top half of ‘The Tower’. That was were the Stelae was, so was where we needed to go. Shantaks fly guard above it, but we reckoned we would be able to move in from below and make our way up to the second observation deck without being spotted. Just in case, some of the patrons offered to accompany us with guns and shoot at the Shantaks if they happened to try to attack us.
So after some healing (outside of the building, so that Erasmus wouldn’t bother the ghouls with his channelling), we headed towards the tower. The top of it had indeed been shattered and torn off, with wreckage of twisted metal laying all around the base. What was left was still almost 400ft tall, with the Star Stelae embedded in the metal platform at the top.
As before we began our ritual, and once again we were interrupted as our attempt awoke the guardian of the place. From out of the ground there burrowed a colossal worm – a bhole – rising itself up so that its head was level with where we stood. Barely before it could act though, Ray dazes it with a fireball and the rest of us hit it with magic and arrows to drive it back into the ground.
With the bhole subdued, we finished the ritual. A terrible ringing sounded from the Stelae, which seemed to vibrate through multiple dimensions. The whole tower shudders, and our view of Paris becomes strange.
Then Queen Cassilda stepped out of a dimensional door, congratulating us on deactivating the last of the Star Stelae. However, she informs us that Xhamen-Dhor has completely consumed Lowls and has managed to return to ‘life’. The connection with Lowls has allowed Xhamen-Dhor to reach across space and time to Golarion, and to begin drawing it into Carcosa.
She recommended that we rest up before heading on to confront Xhamen-Dhor and put a final stop to things.
At this point we got to level up for the last time – reaching level 17. There’s not a great deal at that level for a Spiritualist, except a wail of the banshee-like ability which has a DC that most creatures will be able to resist at our level.
Next session may well be the last session of the campaign, where we get to save the world.