This week in Carrion Crown, a Dan (Sir Horace Gunderson), Geoff (Andris Kreitov), Toby (Solis Lightwarden and his eidolon Gea) and Tyler (Alexandros Callimachi) and GM Hunter picked up right where they left off. The pickle farmers of Lepidstadt put to rest and with the support of Judge Daramid given on the down-low, it was time to unravel the final loose thread: the connection of the chemists Vorkstag and Grine to the body-snatching in Morstag and the Karb Isle sanctuary.
While Solis replenishes his mystical reserves, the others catch whatever fitful rest they can in the dark hours before dawn. The sky is only beginning to lighten as they descend into the sewers under Anatomist’s Alley. The journey underground is swift yet pungent. About where their collective sense of direction reckons the Vorkstag & Grine compound resides overhead, they find an attached chamber not part of the sewers themselves. The room appears to be a distribution center for most grisly wares. It teems with glass jars holding preserved body parts. Dull eyes stare blankly from the head of a drow. The skeletons of owl bears are heaped in the corner. A coffin still holds its occupant, seemingly the beneficiary of a nearby wand of gentle repose. There’s even a ledger detailing buyers and sellers of vivisected body parts, but nothing indicating who’s doing all the brokering or lays claim to this distribution center.
Sharp-eyed Gea detects a secret door leading on from this antechamber. It’s a storeroom of coffins and vials of various substances: bloodblocker, weapon blanches of cold iron and adamantine and blade guard. From there, the group has two options. Through one door they can hear gurgling pipes, machinery and shuffling footsteps. Through the other door, they hear nothing. Beyond the quiet door, they find steps leading down to a heavily secured iron door, beyond which water sloshes. Inside, they find a chamber of icy water, filled with corpses. Disturbing the surface causes the bodies to bob in the water, bumping against each other and the walls. It’s a gruesome sight, even as they are semi-preserved in the cold. The adventurers beat a hasty retreat to try the second door.
Once Sir Horace finesses the lock of the second door, Andris peeks in. Everyone but Gea is too preoccupied with the room beyond to hear footfalls ascending the stairs behind them. A pair of shambling forms, identified by Callimachi as juju zombies, lurch into melee. The alchemical zombies are swiftly put down by Andris and Gea, though not before one hits Solis so hard, he’s shaken into immobility for a moment.
Beyond the second door is a wide, tall cavern of a room, presumably the factory floor as it is filled with seven tall vats, heated from below by gas jets. Planks run overhead from vat to vat in a makeshift catwalk system. Snooping around the floor stealthily, Horace leads the way. He sights hideous mongrel men going about the business of the factory. Sneaking up on one, he fails to hit, but Gea and Callimachi follow up. Once Horace guts the first mongrel man, the other two take notice and combat is engaged. Andris easily slips among the vats, popping around corners to snipe at the remaining mongrel men from a distance. Even Solis gets a shot in before all three mongrels are put down.
A ladder on the wall leads up to a balcony two stories above the factory floor. Immediately off it, they find a storeroom with a cargo door and crane giving access to the compound’s courtyard. Solis notices a ramshackle kennel in one corner of the yard. What sort of hound dwells there? The storeroom also offers up vials of acid and nushadir, tanglefoot bags and thunderstones. As Gunderson, Callimachi and Lightwarden sift through the storeroom, Andris keeps watch outside. This sets him up nicely to take a hatchet in the back from the creeping little gnome swathed in layers of rags and an oversized cloak that can only be good old Grine. As the hatchet lands home, Grine shouts for assistance. Up close, Andris recognizes this is no gnome at all, but a dark creeper. The rancid little creature leaps off the balcony to land on the plank scaffolding and bound away. Gea follows by slithering down onto the planks while Andris heads for the ladder to reach the factory floor. The creeper continues hurling hatchets, which turn out to be poisoned. The eidolon is wracked by debilitating waves of pain that seemingly won’t end long after Grine stops landing hatchets.
Overhearing the commotion, Gunderson and Callimachi rush out to join the fray. Andris finds Grine clinging to the side of a vat, presumably thanks to spider climb. The dark creeper shows off its talents by moving almost faster than the adventurers can track it — until Alexandros pegs him with one of the tanglefoot bags, slowing him long enough for Gea to move in. Solis takes advantage of the ruckus to check another door on the balcony, finding what may be Grine’s personal chambers. As he does so, the third door opens and a figure leaps forth, bashing the unwary elf with a mace. Surely this is Vorkstag himself? Horace charges the newcomer, his gaze arrested by its inhuman eyes peering from behind layers of bandages. From the floor, Callimachi makes out Vorkstag well enough to identify him as a dark stalker and thus bring Iomedae’s bane down on him and his diminutive counterpart.
Solis breaks away to penetrate deeper into the compound. Grine’s bedroom is a combination alchemy lab and abbatoir. In the corner, a ladder beckons upward, an invitation which Solis accepts.
Andris rises to Grine’s level, climbing up on the plank scaffolding. As they haltingly close to melee — Grine keeps hanging back, clearly waiting for the foolish human to rush in — Andris realizes he left his huge honking sword down on the factory floor when he switched to his bow. This is a bit of a tactical error, but it doesn’t stop Kreitov from pushing onward. The dark creeper proves surprisingly strong, as he knocks Andris into the vat of acid over which they tangle. The hunter’s heavy armor drags him straight to the bottom of the ten foot vat.
Elsewhere, Solis continues his exploration. The ladder leads up into the tower looming over the factory courtyard. On the second level, a pair of winged red beasts beset Lightwarden. They wheel overhead and snap with a surprisingly nasty bite. Heavy injury plus the discovery that these snapjaw homunculi’s bite can put him to sleep motivate the elf to flee back downstairs, slamming the trap door shut behind him.
On the factory floor, Callimachi searches for a drainage mechanism on the vat in which Kreitov enjoys his full body exfoliation. Given the options of a level, a wheel and another mechanism, Callimachi opts for the wheel. Turns out this turns up the flame jet beneath the tank, which is probably not to Kreitov’s advantage. Fortunately, the hunter recovers his wits well enough to swim up out of the acid even as his flesh falls away.
Vorkstag attempts to escape the tender ministrations of Gunderson’s sword by quaffing a potion of invisibility. The Taldane noble is undeterred and keeps the dark stalker pinned in the corner of the balcony. Once the stalker reappears, Gunderson blinds him with one of the weapon blanches found in the sewer access. From the floor, Callimachi wheels to begin planting bolt after bolt in Vorkstag.
As Grine disappears again around the rim of a vat, Andris and Gea team up to block his escape. They make their way to the ground level exit, where they keep watch for the dark creeper. If the little beast tries to make a break for it, they’ll spot him. Gea enjoys the breather as an opportunity for the poison that’s been debilitating her to finally stop making things worse.
Battered and disoriented, Solis lurches forth from Grine’s chamber to survey the chaos below. The group is scattered, in various states of gross disfigurement and hard-pressed to keep a lid on the scampering, jumping, tumbling Grine. Spirits are low and flagging. Can they prevail against these two dark folk? Is anyone going to realize it would be very helpful to bring in at least one of them alive?
Find out next time!
 +2d6 damage is frigging awesome.
 This is another one of the moments where everybody at the table freezes and cringes to hear what’s happened.
 This was Horace’s first dirty trick of the game. It’s a neat set of abilities that the GM decided are ineffective against the myriad of undead we’ve fought up to this point.
 This battle took much of the night. Even with the battlemat, translating the book’s depiction of the multiple levels of the factory from the mat and Hunter’s descriptions into everyone’s minds was a trial. It was tactically interesting and in retrospect we had one or two resources that could have helped keep up with the dark folk, like our own potion of spider climb, but at the time it was frustrating and a source of contention as conceptions of the space clashed and affected choices in a negative fashion.