When last we left our heroes, they were on the world of Carcosa, which existed on a different plane from their homeworld. They knew they could only journey back and forth through the use of black lotus opium, which they sought both to return home and to sell to their patron Clarissa Griever.
The so-called Bone Sorcerer had told them he could make it the opium for them, but they’d need to retrieve the black lotus themselves. It could be found on a mountain to the southwest near the village of Chus in the Barrens of Carcosa. But it was guarded by Iakgua, spawn of the elder god Shub-Niggurath.
Resembling a giant blue buzzard, he loved feasting on dead humans, but when there were none he made do with the living villagers of Chus, herding them as if they were cattle.
With a rough map and a warning to beware the White Citadel, the party left the Bone Sorcerer’s Fungoid Gardens in search of the Black Lotus.
Dukmana, the gnome illusionist/thief--
--was accompanied by Bludgeon Stonemace, a dwarven cleric.
The Monk Fat Himana was with them, but he was no adventurer.
He was someone they hoped to bring back to his dying uncle, a powerful Archmage on their homeworld, in exchange for magical artifacts.
They each rode an allosaurus, which they had taken off the Purple Barbarians they had temporarily allied with against the Bone Sorcerer, before betraying them and disposing of them into an underground lake of jale slime.
A fourth allosaurus carried corpses of White Lotus Zombies, Yellow Men slaves that The Bone Sorcerer controlled through the use of white lotus powder. The party had, together with the Purple Barbarians, killed them before aligning with the Bone Sorcerer. Now, they would be used to feed the allosaurus and hopefully, as bait for the carrion-eating Iakgua.
The final members of the party were neither human nor demi-human. There was the giant tiger worm that Jacques had “liberated” from Tiger Monks back in the Jade City of Mu-Leng, which Bludgeon temporarily commanded with a ring of animal control.
And a Shoggoth, which Dukmana used a Deep One artifact to keep under his sway.
Heading off into the purple waste known as the Blighted Lands, they came across a squat circular structure that appeared to be a temple.
It was the color of jale, which did not exist outside Carcosa, but could be described as feverish, voluptuous and dreamlike. The last time they’d seen such a color, it had been of the slime which had devoured The Purple Barbarians, so they steered clear of it.
But soon they were set upon by beings that appeared to be both insect and fungal spore, just somehow…wrong. They were Mi-Go, and there were eight of them.
They appeared hostile, and through the psionic power of clairaudience first tried to “hear” if there were more adventurers. Then, the telepathically told the party to leave The Blighted Lands. Dukmana did not wish to do so, for that meant heading south through the desert, where they had seen Purple Worms big enough to devour the entire party instantly.
Dukmana unsuccessfully tried to bargain, and the Mi-Go communicated that they were lucky they received a warning. They left, and before long they were in the desert, and another giant worm rose out of the sands, just as they feared.
It was not purple but Dolm, another color which they had never seen on their homeworld, a mix of the wild and painful alien color of Ulfire, and the more ordinary blue. As it seemed indifferent to them, they continued their journey into the desert until they came across a ruined city, and camped for the night.
While they were not attacked at night, fierce winds blew sand off many of the ancient megalithic structures. Strangely, the winds came not from the sky but from a hole in one of the uncovered ruins. Around the hole, there was writing that Dukmana was able to decipher with his ring that allowed him to comprehend languages. It read “Here lies the Great Race of Yith. Whoever awakens them shall be rewarded.
When day broke, they cleared rubble from the hole using their allosaurus and descended into it. While the hole could not have been more than three feet in diameter (enough for the dwarf and gnome, but too big for their larger companions, save the Shoggoth who could change its form), what lay beyond it was massive.
It was a tunnel eighteen feet high, and ten feet wide. One that descended at least a mile below ground, beyond even the demi-human’s infravision. What giant creatures would need such a hall? Dukmana felt they should not find out. They could always return here after they located the opium.
Their spelunking cut short, they were back on their dinosaur mounts and back into the desert. They saw a stone citadel to the south, near a line of hills that marked the southern end of the desert.
While it was grey in color, Dukmana feared that it might still be the White Citadel they were warned about and lead the part west.
Soon, they were out of the desert into the barrens. They were relatively lush compared to the desert; at least there was scrub here. But like the desert, it was vast and seemed to go on in every direction with no structures or other geographical features to orient them.
Still, they were not alone. They came across a corpse of a sorcerer, of what race they could not tell, for head was split apart and his brain was being devoured by an Unquiet Worm. Although not a truly giant worm – it was about the size of a dwarf or gnome – it was quickly swelling as it consumed the sorcerer’s brain.
The Unquiet Worm seemed wary of the adventurers, and very much consumed with the task at hand. Mainly, consuming brains. But Bludgeon had ventured too long without adventure, and Dukmana did not want to leave a potential threat alive. So the gnome drew his wand of fireballs, and burnt the worm badly.
The worm reared, and took a on a vaguely humanoid form. It had absorbed the spells of the sorcerer, and cast shocking grasp upon Bludgeon. Bludgeon swung back with his war hammer, and missed.
He and Dukmana were only saved by their allosaurus mounts, which had been trained by their Purple Men owners to attack creatures of Chaos on command. Dukmana’s allosaurus ate the worm, but they were able to a gold necklace inset with precious jewels on what was left of the sorcerer. They believed it could fetch as many as 5,000 gold pieces…if they could find a trader in these parts.
Continuing west through the barrens, they then came upon a fissure in the earth. They saw a structure had been carved into it. Dukmana read the alien runes at the entrance, and learned it was a shrine to the dark god Nyarlathotep.
Bludgeon, still thirsting for adventure, wished to explore, but Dukmana convinced them they faced enough risk retrieving the Black Lotus.
Not far from the fissure, they forded a river that ran north-south. On the other side, they came across a metal rod jutting out of the ground, with a crystal attached that blinked every 10 seconds.
Dukmana tried in vain to remove the crystal, which he thought could be valuable. But as his tiny hands covered it, there was a rumbling in the earth.
Soon, a granite chamber twenty feet across and fifteen feet high rose from the ground, with a single entrance. Bludgeon would not be deterred this time. Surely this was a sign from the gods to explore it. “When you're on a holy quest and a Flashing Crystal presents a door to you,” he told Dukmana, “you go through it!" He pushed upon the door with no resistance, but was baffled and frightened by what he found inside.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of tiny razors were levitating in the air, animated by an unseen force. They spun around in a controlled manner so that they formed a deadly sphere.
In the corner, meanwhile, a living brain lay in a basin on a pedestal, floating in some kind of liquid.
Once again, Dukmana’s caution prevailed over Bludgeon’s curiosity and they left yet another place unexplored in Carcosa.
They camped for the night without incident, and had to decide between following the river north to through hilly terrain, or south towards the jungle. They headed north, where Dukmana (falsely) believed the village of Chus lay. They indeed saw a village beside the river, but something lay in their path.
It was a metallic sphere, which burrowed out of the ground before floating above it.
It seemed to scan them, and had a pipe-like protrusion which reminded them of the “pulse rifle” their missing companion Jacques, had looted from the Purple Barbarian leader. After the scan, it seemed indifferent to them, so once again Dukmana encouraged caution and led the party to the village.
Soon they learned this was not the village of Chus. The men of this village, known as Xiiaopi, was like the other villages they’d either seen or heard of, composed of men and women of only one skin color. These men were of a dark red, not unlike the color the river took as it passed through Xiiaopi. They seemed both furtive and suspicious.
Soon one Red Man approached them. He was clearly no mere villager, but a mage of great power. “Who approaches Xioboitaipi, master of the primal rites of the village of Xiiaopi?”
The party explained their quest for the black lotus, and Xioboitaipi explained to them rather gruffly that they Chus lay to the southeast. The party realized they had strayed off course.