After the Battle of Sky Mountain, Nazeer, Phylinius and Buulgath coasted on their fame and success for a while, but eventually they decided they needed to go and pursue some new goal. Buulgath purchased a map in the bazaar that supposedly led to an unopened kaer, and the trio decided to try their hands at kaer-delving.
Making their way to the kaer, they found it buried in almost plain sight, but the entrance was still closed. A combination of Buulgath’s magic and good old fashioned muscle power managed to pull the door open just a bit, and they were surprised and pleased to hear voices from the other side. The voices quickly turned to shouts of terror and fear, and a trio of kaer guards in old-fashioned armor attacked them as they squeezed into the entrance. They fought back bravely but carefully, making sure to only knock the guards unconscious, as they seemed to think the trio were Horrors in disguise.
Making their way into the kaer, Phylinius tried playing music to convince the kaer dwellers that they were not Horrors and that the Scourge was over. The residents seemed inordinately terrified of them, however, and they fled at the trio’s approach. In the middle of the main entryway, they found a small amphitheater with a tiny hut in the center. As they made their way in, they heard a child crying and an adult voice trying to soothe the crying, telling the child everything would be okay, and the King would protect them. As they entered the hut, they saw a man standing over what appeared to be a sacrificial alter, knife in hand, with his own child strapped to the stone. As soon as he saw the three heroes, he cried out that the King would protect them, and plunged the dagger into his child’s heart before Nazeer could move to stop him. Suddenly, the trio found themselves in the rocky entry hall, back on the other side of the door. The door was sealed once again, all their effort undone, and a wet, gurgling laugh sounded throughout the tunnel – definitely a Horror.
Knowing now that the people in the kaer were under the influence of a Horror, they proceeded more cautiously. Forcing the door again and sneaking back in, they slipped stealthily past the guards and the kaer dwellers, doing all they could to avoid notice. Towards the back of the kaer, they found a hidden doorway, leading to a stylized throne room. A twisted and mutilated Name-giver sat on the throne, the flesh of his or her face and head twisted and warped, pulled up to form the shape of a crude crown.
The trio immediately attacked The King, and the Horror defended itself handily, seeming to disappear and reappear at will to dodge their attacks. Finally, Phylinius landed a lucky shot with a thrown dagger, and the battle came to an end. The Horror’s body disintegrated, leaving only the bone crown that had been on it’s head. As the others stepped forward to touch it, Nazeer quickly moved in and knocked them aside, claiming the crown as his own prize. Surprised, the other two allowed him to keep it.
As they went back out into the rest of the kaer, the dwellers were shaking their heads and walking around in a daze, as though they were just waking up from a long dream. They explained that the King had convinced them that the only way to keep the kaer safe was through the sacrifice of those they loved. Buulgath explained to them that they had been under the influence of a Horror, and that they were now free. Phylinius told them of the world outside, and the three heroes led the dwellers into the light beyond their underground home.
The King was one of my first personal creations. I wanted to create a monster that was not only a terror in combat, but also evoked a certain feeling in the players themselves. The shocking imagery of the sacrifice certainly got me the result I wanted from the guys, and set the tone for future Horrors I created or adapted for the game.