Decaying Lands 33: Murder Cow Murder

PCs Present & Played:

Claus Drexol, Magic-User (Vegas)
  Phillip Bachman, linklad
  Lucien Courtet, infantryman
Tenkos, Cleric [plague doctor kit] (Sugarplum)
Viggo Marklund, Specialist [bounty hunter kit] (Peanut Butter)

Last time the party plumbed the depths of Cooper Thornhill's secret basement, discovered the incredibly old remnants of some cow related magic, killed Cooper, and narrowly escaped being gored by a horrific bovine beast.

We rejoined the crew at the top of the stairs huddled in Cooper's office. They tossed the office, looking for any kind of valuables to increase their paltry haul and trying to kill some time while the huge beast cow below raged against the stone doorway. They found some outdated financial tallies, noticeably poorer than the one they found below, instructions on how the various types of cheese were made, and little else. They hoped that the cheesemaking notes would be enough to satisfy the request of Cooper's sister-in-law for his secret but they weren't sure.

They hadn't lost anybody yet but they also didn't have much to show for all the trouble they'd gotten into this far. I fully expected them to book it before the town woke up but they surprised me with a decision to go back downstairs and find Thornhill's fortune.

Sidebar: Viggo's player, Peanut Butter, specifically said that he was really curious to find out more about what was going on as a player. The money was a good motivator too but there was a thought that maybe they had been too careful recently and needed to risk more for more reward.

They waited until they didn't hear as much banging from beast cow. They worked out their marching order, keeping Claus and Philip in the back, with Lucien volunteering to take point. "It's what I get paid for!" It's worth noting here that none of those three had yet been in the basement.

They crept down the stairs, stacked and ready to rumble. They were quiet enough that they saw the cowliest of cows down the hall lying on its side. It raged and writhed in pain in the middle of the mutant cow-human stalls, thus far unaware of the party. There was a brief consideration for calming it before the debate shifted to "lure it down the hall" or "approach directly and kill with fire."

Sidenote: While doing Phillip's lisp I think I slipped into a little bit of Butt-head, which Vegas called out. Now Lucien has a tinge of Beavis. All of these things are still Vegas' fault.

"We should not cook and eat this cow no matter how badly we want to." - Claus

[Counterpoint: But what if they did?!]

They were on the verge of firing the first shot when Tenkos remembered prime tactic number one in all situations: bear traps! They laid out the four they had in the doorway, two standard claw traps and two awful spike traps.

Viggo snuck out, grabbed all the papers on the ledge, and got back over the bear traps safe and sound. In the process he saw a very large chest (too heavy for him to move), and what looked like a family portrait of the Thornhills. Included in the painting were Cooper, his wife and son (neither yet stocky and simple), and another young woman who they hadn't seen.

Now fully prepared they taunted the cow and got it to charge them. We did a Save vs Breath to see how it fared against the bear traps and even making the save it got completely wrecked. At least one trap grabbed on and a crossbow from Viggo and fancy pistol shot from Claus dropped it. It crumpled to the ground and skidded to a halt in front of Viggo and Lucien.

Sidebar: Yes, that pistol all the way back from the Bremmlecht Tower, 21 sessions ago, finally got fired. So far 1/1 on kill shots.

Monster murder cow down, they went down the hall to check out the cow stalls again. The creatures (people?) seemed beyond help, so Viggo and Tenkos got to work putting them out of their misery. When Tenkos got to the last stall on his side he noticed that it was not covered in filth like the others and the straw was fresh. The poor soul in this stall was still screaming in fear from the events of the night before Tenkos did what he felt needed to be done. They all agreed that this woman was probably the one that got taken during the night and whose scream woke them up.

Viggo's last stall was the same one where he had fought Cooper during the large battle. The woman in this stall was not chained up and seemed more resigned to her fate than the others. Viggo tried to talk to her and realized that she did understand him. He began to ask about her father (which she confirmed) and what he had gotten into, before Tenkos came and killed her as well, saying that Viggo was only causing her to suffer more.

They brought Claus to the large arch room (he SO wanted to mess with it) and rummaged through Cooper's clothes, turning up a set of keys. One of the keys opened the large chest back in the other room and they were astonished at the incredible amount of silver contained within. Viggo locked the chest back up, pocketed the key, and they brought the chest closer to the stairs.

Sidebar: This was a direct follow on from the tomb they found previously where, after finding a bunch of valuable stuff, they preemptively moved it to their exit point before continuing to explore.

With a little more breathing room they went into the library and Claus' eyes nearly tripled in size. There were so many old books and scrolls! They estimated it would take at least two wagonloads to get it all out (even with the understanding that some value would most likely be lost in the process). Claus looked around for anything obvious and found a lectern with a drawing of some happy farmers wearing James Thornhill's cowbell and conversing with perfect little cows.

While Claus was browsing and everyone else was idly looking about they heard a hacked, strangely moist sounding, moo/squeak coming from the corners. Lapdog-sized rats with sloughing cow features and weird hooves ran out on the attack. The rat/cows were largely ineffective, nibbling a bit on Claus before they were put down.

They didn't have too many moments before they heard a rumble and a roar and swiftly rushed into action, as they realized the berserker cow was trundling back to life. Viggo wanted to rush out and try to slit its throat before it could get going but was too slow and got beat out by Tenkos, who quickly laid another bear trap. The massive beast charged towards him with what would surely have been a near fatal blow against the plague doctor but, fortunately, his bear trap was enough to drop the creature to the ground again.

This time they took no chances and Tenkos butchered it, "autopsy-style", to make sure it would not rise again. They had previously theorized that the milk from this cow may have been the root of what was going on with the cheese and hybrid creatures but curiously they found only muscle and sinew under its flesh. Even the udders were packed with flesh and power, completely dry of milk.

At this point Viggo and Tenkos abandoned Claus in the library (with his hirelings) to explore the one room they hadn't seen yet. Before they even entered they could smell the meat and it was even colder on that side of the basement. Two human-cow hybrids hung from the ceiling with a pile of meat and skins neatly arranged on a table in the corner. They approached the first creature cautiously and so were not caught completely by surprised when she started thrashing about despite her skin having been completely flayed off. They quickly put her down but not before noticing that the meat and hide had begun to regrow. Thoroughly unsettled, they made sure that both of the creatures in the room would not come back to life.

Meanwhile Claus was scanning the large research table in the library trying glean whatever he could about what happened here as quickly as possible. He uncovered a few pages of collected notes, written much more recently than the rest of the papers, that seemed to be puzzling out how to activate the arch. The instructions looked rough and filled with guesswork but the aim seemed to be to activate the arch to create a better cow.

Ended out trying to figure out how they could get this library safely out of here or, alternately, how they could take control of the business without having the whole town (and larger authorities) trying to arrest / hang them.

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