The following material was recently submitted to Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque contest.
Chapter XXV: Descent into the Purgatorial Pool of Kalem-Ra(Billy Billerson)
As Count Mircea fired-off his final pistol, the last of the creatures fell down sputtering blood, a fist-sized hole in its bony back. The Count looked to his other companions.
As for the two yokels hired as guides, the older was tending to his grandson's wound. One of the monsters had apparently gotten past the youth's prodigious pitchfork and given him a nasty gash in the shoulder.
The Count sheathed his blade and began to reload his pistols one brace at a time.
"Tis but a wee bit further." stated the elder yokel, having finished, stuffing the leftover bandage into his pack.
And indeed it was. Another minute's windings and the curious party entered a high-ceilinged cave with a pool at the center. Encompassing the pool was a short stone border, an imperfect rectangle a bit larger than a coffin, and from its murky waters emanated a strange light which illuminated the whole cavern dimly.
"This is it, then?" asked the Count dubiously, examining the strange hieroglyphs along the pool's border.
"Aye. What are ye waiting for?" said the old man, impatiently. With that, the Count and Ludovico lowered sweet Cassandra's body, beautiful even in death, into the waters. It sunk slowly into the cloudy depths, disappearing almost immediately.
"What now?" asked the Count, it being his turn for impatience.
"Now we must wait." replied the old man. "But be on your guard. Those who return from the pool are rarely unchanged, and rarely for the good."
"Yes, yes. You have already warned me so. I will welcome my dear Cassandra back in any guise." said the Count edgily.
To this the old man did not reply, though he tapped nervously with his shillelagh.
And so they waited.
Suddenly, the water stirred. As the four stepped closer for a better look, a brow broke the surface, then a dripping head, and then Cassandra stepped silently from the pool.
"Changed indeed!" though the Count. "If anything, she is more beautiful now than before her untimely death!" he thought.
He approached her cautiously as she stood there, as still as a statue. But when she turned and smiled at him he couldn't hold back any more, moving to embrace her, a smile of joy on his face. But, as their eyes met he stopped dead, as if struck by a thunderbolt! No! Something wasn't right! This was NOT HIS CASSANDRA!
"Who or WHAT are you?" the Count asked warily, backing away, his voice trembling slightly.
She continued to smile, that same classic smile, worn of old by the Sphinx having just asked her riddle.
The Pool of Kalem-Ra
The Pool of Kalem-Ra is rumored to exist within the maze-like cave complex under Mount Takoho. The pool is know for its ability to return the dead to life. If the tales are true, many a bereaved loved one has sought out the pool. Few have found it, fewer still have been happy they did.
Roll 1d10 to determine the effect of the pool on a body.
- As Good as New- Character returns to life as they were before dying
- Something Different- Alignment changed(determine randomly)
- Not the Man I Used to Be- Lose 1d6 from random ability score
- A Shade of His Former Self- lose 1d3 from all ability scores
- Wisdom from Beyond the Grave- character returns with Wisdom 20, but is emotionally detached from these "frail mortals". Alignment true neutral. No longer gains XP from acquired treasure, instead by acquiring esoteric knowledge.
- Reincarnated- Character returns in another body(1-Invertebrate, 2-Fish, 3-Bird, 4-Reptile, 5-Amphibian, 6-Mammal, 7-Random Humanoid, 8-Random Monster)
- Mix-Up at the Soul Factory- a different soul comes back in the body(roll-up random character characteristics or pick someone funny)
- Walking Corpse- Character returns to life but their body is just as decomposed as before. For every week they were dead, CON is reduced by 1d3-1, CHR by 1d4(to a minimum of 1). Body continues to decompose at same rate until CON reaches 0, when character dies. When CON drops below 3, can no longer talk, can only make a wet slurping noise. Normal healing and healing magic does not stop this decomposition. On the plus-side, they are immune to pain and cannot bleed to death, so they can fight-on until -10HP.
- Pet Sematary- Character returns possessed by the spirit of a homicidal Wendigo
- Undead- Character returns as random type of undead(powerful characters should roll for powerful undead, weak characters should roll for weaker undead types)