Pyramid of Shadows

Don't think of it as losing a rogue

Think of it as gaining a barbarian

Madness and an ill-timed entry have conspired to take away one of our number. This morning, Renleon’s (figurative) demons overcame his reason, and he snapped, lashing out in attack against Malakar. I saw the troubled look in his eye shortly before but didn’t understand its significance until it was too late. Renleon was surrounded from the outset; no doubt that did nothing to improve his state of mind. In the past I had often caught his distrusting glances, so I shouldn’t be entirely surprised. Is it possible he had occasion to overhear one our hushed conversations concerning the Rahmbeau matter?

At first, I still held out hope that we might resolve the situation without fatality, though Malakar obviously relished the opportunity. He, more than any other, had taken a hardline stance against Renleon, and this was the excuse he needed. While I can’t disagree with him on the points, I take no comfort in the joy he seemed to deriving from doing in a companion of so many months. There’s a darkness in him that lurks below the surface and sometimes shows through when he is caught in the moment, unguarded.

I called on Renleon to lay down arms, but I could not muster the requisite ferocity to cow him. Is it possible that I didn’t really want to save him? It is true that I am a relative newcomer to the party, but I believe I have become fairly close to my companions. The circumstances, certainly, have seen to that, but I feel even if we hadn’t been trapped in this cursed pyramid I would have come to see these individuals as my comrades. Maybe there was some mercy in inability to stop Renleon. Could he ever find peace in the mortal plane?

In the end, it was none of us who laid the final blow. The killing strike was made by the axe of a gargantuan figure who tumbled from above out of a portal. When he landed, we stood in stunned silence, watching as Renleon’s severed head slowly rolled to a stop. I hoped I could see the faint hint of a smile on the elf’s dead lips, but I might be deluding myself to assuage the sense of guilt. Of course, there was little time to think of such things, as we had to assess the intentions of the new arrival.

He declared himself as Thunk, and though he didn’t immediately take up that greataxe of his, his wariness was evident, and he gazed uneasily at the wounded and scorched body he had landed on. It was a delicate moment, but we assured him that if he would reciprocate, we held no hostile intent. I’m not sure what he made of our somewhat conflicting explanations concerning the dead elf, but he was satisfied enough to engage us on friendly terms, especially after the body inexplicably disappeared.

It turns out Thunk was out hunting hares-“bunnies,” to hear him tell-when he was told by a voice that he had to kill someone a single time. Obviously, though this might not have made particularly sense to him, he had come upon the entrance to the pyramid and had heard the prophecy concerning Karavakos, who, having been defeated twice, had but one more form to offer. As Thunk described his adventure, he swung the heavy axe effortlessly, making comments about violence that might have been unsettling if they hadn’t clearly been weak attempts at humor. We elicited more details about Thunk’s past and heard a disjointed narrative about his upbringing. He seemed particularly caught up on the memory of a couple of bullies, Lo-Kag and Thotham, if I understood correctly.

Apparently, Thunk had heard the Tooth Fairy song honoring our own Marie, which seemed to improve his disposition towards us. We introduced him to Vyrellis, whom he insensitively referred to as “the head” and declared a whore, though he later made what might have been conciliatory gesture; I’m not certain whether he meant to indicate he liked the head, any head, or simply head. At any rate, Thunk agreed to join us, not an unwelcome arrangement given our diminished numbers. Thunk projects a simple image, but I can’t help but suspect a certain cunning hidden behind the direct, almost childlike demeanor. And yet, it’s not as if he is intentionally hiding anything. I think he is unburdened by sophistication, but he is no fool.

Malakar, always resourceful, scouted out a variety of small twigs and leaves, which he placed lit in Shadowclaw’s beak so the familiar could see through the darkness as he scouted ahead. Upon returning, Shadowclaw described a cemetery—dried bones and scraps of funeral wrappings in alcoves.

We have journeyed long enough not to trust in the innocence of graveyards, so we entered cautiously and proceeded through. Not until we touched the opposite door was the trap sprung; the door by which we had entered slammed shut. The hands of what were obviously wights began to emerge from coffins in the adjoining chamber. A ghost appeared, and a good many pestilent rats beset us. The ghost’s shrill cry had a dazing effect that sent those affected reeling; I managed to stand my ground. The fight was by no means the most difficult we had ever engaged in, but it was a good opportunity to have a first look at Thunk’s prowess: he did well enough that I have no reservations about relying on his skills in future encounters. Once all our enemies had been dispatched, we searched the area, and Leïkos ended up with a finally crafted khopesh brimming with magical energy.

We continued on to the next room where we saw statues of a mummy, liche, vampire and death knight. Malakar took the opportunity to expound on the nature of liches, a subject which he evidently finds most fascinating—and indeed, it was quite intriguing, though I’m not convinced his interest is purely scholarly. As luck would have it, these were no ordinary statues, but released the actual monsters they represented. The death knight was talkative, declaring, “I am the Skull Lord,” but none of our adversaries put up a particularly significant fight, apart from the nuisance of repeatedly summoning vampire spawn. I did manage to properly execute a spell I had been working on; after hitting one enemy with a vicious barrage, I teleported him behind his ally, who he immediately attacked and killed. Afterwards he was left momentarily dazed. It’s always rewarding to move a spell from theory to practice and have everything come together just so.

As I close, I take a moment to honor Renleon’s memory. May he find peace wherever he has gone.




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