We find our adventurers facing an old wrinkly guy named Brother Zalem. Over across the way there are three other wrinkly undead looking things, Brother Crowley, Sister Hellena, and Sister Sangria, former plaguegivers. They are guarding something behind a curtain. Nabila asks Brother Zalem what it is. He replies that Aegecia is not asleep but HAS BEEN REBORN! In his revival, Aegecia has revived them, which explains the four empty sarcophagi we saw earlier.
Nabila, though, she’s not too sure of this. Brother Zalem asks her if she doubts him. She asks to see Aegecia’s mortal avatar. The priests pull back the curtain and reveal a floating orb with eyestalks and a milky central eyeball. It has been burned and charred. It’s also a beholder. Sindra hypothesizes that the beholder and the dragon got into it, and the beholder won, though just barely. It asks Nabila to come forward, and he tells how he knows Nabila and wants her to spread more disease in his name. Nabila says she will do anything for her god. Then the beholder tells brother Zalem to kill her slaves. Nabila tries to protest without directly going against her god’s orders.
Nabila says that this just isn’t right, and the beholder has Brother Zalem and his crew attack us. So we fight. A beholder and four bog mummies. The battle does not go so easily. We use our first barrel of exploding powder to blow up the beholder and take a chunk out of its health. It works but then it also charms Orlando and Granick and Kelvin to take Nabila and Sindra down. Sindra throws lotus powder at Orlando who has her subdued, and he becomes completely invulnerable to harm for an entire day. However, Sindra contracts a disease called bog rot from one of the mummies. Nabila throws lotus powder on Granick, but instead of becoming free of his bear hug, Granick falls asleep for 20 hours and collapses on top of Nabila in his heavy plate mail armor. Steady Jeb saves the day. We defeat the mummies and the beholder. Now we have some new drug addicts in the party, too. Yaay.
The large purple sphere looks like it was created to store something. There is a sliding door on it which opens to a small cubicle. Since Orlando is invulnerable, we send him to check it out. A faded image appears of a very old, old woman who looks like a witch with leprosy patches and warts and stringy hair. She talks to Nabila and says she’s the phantom charged with guarding the plaguesphere. It’s Shelly — or at least it looks like Shelly. She tells Nabila that she’s got some serious mommy issues. Within the sphere is an ancient artifact blessed by Aegecia himself and protected by a disease called “god rot.” Aegecia created god rot to get revenge on the people who betrayed him. The disease is powerful enough to kill a god. Nabila has to be considered worthy to retrieve the artifact from the sphere; she has to contract a disease that will kill her. Shelly looks at us and says that only one person in the group is considered worthy. The phantom disappears. Then it reappears and comments on Nabila’s clothes; they really don’t suit her. Then it disappears again. Only to reappear for a third time. The phantom Shelly says for us to not be stupid trying to retrieve the artifact.
While we’re waiting to figure out what to do, Nabila has her own purple lotus craving. She permanently believes she is the best looking person in the entire world. Then Nabila decides the only way in is to deliberately infect herself with a disease. We stress her out to the point that her inner Typhoid Mary kicks in, and she diseases herself. Then she goes into the sphere. Nothing happens. Then she tries to open the door to get to the artifact, and the phantom appears again. It sadly tells Nabila that she’s not worthy. A grate in the floor opens up and floods Nabila with a noxious gas, the god rot. Everything is quiet again.
The party went in another room to get away from the sphere, and Nabila has a few moments left to live with the knowledge that it didn’t work. Sindra rushes to hold her best friend as Nabila’s flesh and body starts to melt to goo. Her eyes are the last to go. Granick is disappointed Nabila didn’t leave a skull. Kelvin drops to his knees and wails. Jeb is quiet. Orlando has his head in his hands.
Somewhere in the outer planes between Hades and the Nine Hells where there’s diseased water and lots of vermin, a warrior in rainbow armor drops Nabila onto stinging grit. She gets to her feet and faces a throne made from gnarled and diseased wood. An imposing figure wearing tattered robe sits on the throne. He’s diseased and half dead. A person steps out of Aegecia’s shadow. It’s Shelly. She tells Nabila she didn’t want to see her so soon, at least not in the current circumstances. She is Aegecia’s voice and her words are his. He is disappointed to see Nabila there, and she has failed him but he still has work for her to do. Nabila says she will do anything to redeem herself. Shelly mentions the threat of Adivion Adrissant and his desire to end the world in ways that are not pleasant or even remotely sensible. She says Adrissant is a foolish mortal who wants to unleash the great old ones, the beast who blinded Aegecia, all of the Very Bad Things. Aegecia can handle one god but not all of the others. Meanwhile the other gods will not heed Aegecia’s warnings. Aegecia leans down and whispers in Shelly’s ear: he will send Nabila back but he will take the one thing that Nabila covets the most to remind her of her failure and her desperate need to succeed. Then everything goes white.
Sindra has the bog rot, the only one in the group with a disease that could mean she is worthy. Granick says Sindra should finish what Nabila started. Orlando says she should try to retrieve the artifact, too. Sindra is not having it because she doesn’t even want the stupid artifact, and she values her life too much to have her body painfully melt away. Only Jeb says nothing, as usual. She finally gives into their goading. She gives Jeb a kiss, and he assures her that everything will be fine.
She goes into the plaguesphere and nothing happens. Inside the small cubicle is a cloak stand and on the stand is a cloak, jet black. The bottom is frayed and torn, but the rest is immaculate. Her continuous detect magic spell blinds her for a long time. After her sight is restored, she takes the cloak and exits the sphere. Jeb is smiling, and Granick claps her on the back and says she’s not dead. Orlando tells her about the cloak, that it’s legendary, known as the Unholy Shroud of the First Prophetess. It is major swag.
We decide to get out of that awful shrine because Sindra needs a healer before the bog rot kills her. As we go outside, it’s night time. Sindra has an awful headache once she gets into the open air. Her insides are on fire. Something in her head tries to get out. She notices a full moon in the sky, and she begins to change — a tail grows out of her spine, she’s covered in hide and fur which is tiger striped. She’s contracted lycanthropy. She is now a weretiger, thanks to a wild surge from a few weeks back. Fortunately she has no bloodlust, and the lycanthropy completely nulls the bog rot so there is no need for a healer.
Jeb looks at Sindra, looks at the scratch on his arm, looks back at Sindra. In fact, everyone is looking at Sindra. She sheepishly says, “Meow?” Jeb asks if this is part of Sindra being a witch. Does he like it? And he’s staring at her boobs and responds, “Well, it’s different.” Rangers like animals.
So it dawns on us that we left Nabila’s stuff and our bag of holding down in the shrine, so we go back to fetch it. A fiery black shadow appears. It’s human shaped. Kelvin in his Blighted Helm says that it’s undead. Orlando remarks that the shadow is the same shape as Nabila was. We hear Nabila’s voice screaming and screaming. At the silence, the shadow takes flesh form, leathery, gaunt, stringy hair, looks like it’s been flayed alive and left out to rot. It’s Nabila. And she still thinks she’s the hottest thing ever.
Nabila has been returned to us as a lich, with eyes like black fire, though she is not a traditional lich with a phylactery. Kelvin is very upset by all this. How do they know for sure it’s Nabila? Sindra holds out the cloak to her. Nabila makes grabby hands for it and then asks Sindra if she wants to have sex. Yep, that’s Nabila all right. Sindra is always up for new and exciting ways to do the nasty, and necrophila is totally new to her. So the lich and the weretiger have screaming orgasmic sex off in a corner somewhere.
Orlando furiously writes stuff down, and then we explore the rest of the dungeon.
The rest of the rooms, two on each side, are modest living quarters. One room is full of ancient sex toys like a ball gag, a paddle, clamps, and a nasty, encrusted magazine called “Moist Caves” which features and orc and a harpy getting it on. Nabila and Sindra send the boys away and they go at it again, to the Moist Caves of Sindra’s Underdark. Another room, belonging to Hellena, contains a diary of the daily life in the shrine. One entry stands out to Nabila about an acolyte named Jezebel who was impregnated by Crowley (hence the sex toys) and decides to name her child Shelly. It is thought that the child of a Plaguegiver and an acolyte will be quite powerful. Nabila bitterly rips that page from the journal and crumples it up. The other two rooms on the west side have nothing interesting in them. The southwest room has balconies and pillars and a vestibule and is the proper entry into the shrine. The standing stones outside are directly above. There is a door to the south but it’s covered with a slab of rock. There’s a door behind it, but we can’t reach it.
Now we decide we’ve had enough of the shrine so we leave, gathering up samples of blight water. Nabila traps some doors. As we head out, Spectral Shelly reappears and apologizes to Nabila, that Nabila had to find out the hard way about what happened to Shelly long ago. She was young and beautiful and full of life. She wanted a child to give back to Aegecia for all the gifts he had given her. She wanted her own special plaguegiver to rid the world of sin. She tells us a story. She and Professor Elias hooked up. Jago was sent to study abroad, but the ship he was on became infested with rats that brought a plague with them. He was the only survivor, and Shelly thought he would make a wonderful babydaddy.
Shelly decided she wanted to try to get the Unholy Shroud from the plaguesphere, but it also killed her. Aegecia gave her another chance but took her womb, also making her a plague lich, so no plaguebaby would ever be born. What Aegecia did give her was a small child from the village of Essen. The plague in Essen was her doing because she tried to destroy a demon in an old Whispering Way hideout. Her plague escaped the room from a crack in the ceiling and blew downwind to Essen. She says she sent Nabila Oleander, an acolyte whom she picked out and trained herself, to be the father of a pure plaguebaby boy. But Nabila blew it — was she waiting on romance? She admits that her lessons to Nabila shouldn’t have been so cryptic, but she wanted Nabila to grow up to be an independent woman who can think for herself. Shelly says if there was anything in the world she loved, it’s Nabila. She admonishes Nabila to keep the mage close and that she would learn ways to hide her true self from others. She also says for Nabila not to go near any good, frou frou gods’ temples because it won’t be nice. Nabila tries to touch Shelly’s face and tells her, “I love you.” Shelly leaves and Sindra hugs Nabila. Nabila tries to cry, but can’t because she’s undead and doesn’t really have eyes any more. It just hurts a lot.
We’ve had enough of Hag’s Breath for now, so we leave and hunt down those stupid elves who took our money for the road tax. We want our 50gp back, dammit!
So we fight. Sindra wild surges: a magic mouth appears, insults her, and then disappears. Nabila finds a nubile high elf chick and rips the soul out of her body, a la Shang Tsung. Sindra has yet another wild surge and a log cabin appears. We defeat the elves and burn their bodies and all their elven livery to get rid of the evidence. Sindra tells Jeb it would be a shame to waste that log cabin, but he tells her that she and her undead girlfriend (who is now a dirty elf) should go use the cabin. Sindra asks him if he doesn’t like her anymore, but he says he needs some time. She winks and tells him not to wait too long. Then Nabila takes Kelvin into the cabin and they go at it. He loses his virginity properly, but he doesn’t last very long. Kelvin has banged a hot elf chick and his mistress, who is undead. The poor boy’s done been corrupted good now. Bless.
Unholy Shroud of the First Prophetess
two-handed sword +2
ancient sex toys and crusty orc/ harpy porn