Friday, May 6, 2016

World of the Lost, Session One: Orogoro & Diamonds

There were 4 adventurers, and all were Germans. There was Heinrich, the lucky one, who was a Fighter. Everett, a Fighter, who spoke many languages. The stealthy Specialist Baldwin, and the Magic-User Dietrich.

They were now at the outskirts of Khirima, at long last delivered by a passing caravan. They had traveled with this caravan since arrival in Lagos, where they had arrived several days prior, having departed from Hamburg several weeks before that. They had heard rumors along their way. Stories of the brutally enforced taboos, and of some lost temple being restored to its former glory by another Outsider like themselves, a warrior of some kind, but they were mostly disinterested. They had come to Khirima only to acquire the fabled tribute of silver given to appease the demons who dwell upon the forbidden plateau, in the Temple of Ages That Are Not, and would not be distracted. For now, however, they had to contend with a terrific monsoon. The enormity of the earthen outer walls seen from a distance was disorienting. After a miserable two-mile march they finally entered the city itself, with stern and miserable guards still patrolling the walls and observing them wandering in the pissing rain. The strict layout of parallel streets and hard right angles was almost eerie in it's orderliness, but after persevering they discovered a somewhat decent tavern after passing on a much shabbier one. Everett acted as translator for the lot of them as they situated themselves, as he was the only one able to speak the Igbo language. Through him they rented beds, and a place to lay down their things. They bought a flavorful beef stew, and drank Orogoro (the distilled juice of the Raffia tree). The Orogoro they found quite palatable, and hoping to make a good impression on the locals decided to carouse and drink in earnest.


The four of them awoke the next morning with splitting headaches and few clear memories, beyond vague details and talk of diamonds. Heinrich awoke with a sore arm, and saw that he was clutching a rather large diamond in his hand. The soreness in his arm was caused by a fresh tattoo: a crude map, with the word GRUBE (a German word approximating the English "trove") beneath it.After belaboring the tavern-keeper for information about the hypothetical sale of said gemstone they were told they could only sell something like that at the merchants guild. They prepared a copy of the tattoo on parchment, while Heinrich carefully hid the original with his shirtsleeve.


A short march brought them out of the chaotic bustle of the Trade Square into the pretentious calm of the Noble Square, and after boldly walking into the courtyard of the Merchants Guild they simply requested assistance with their diamond from a nearby guard, demonstrating the characteristic Teutonic bluntness.A rather tense meeting with the disarmingly stoic Odafin, the Minister of Finance, who appeared flanked by a number of equally stern guards. A rather humorless man bedecked in symbolic snake jewelry, he demanded they tell him where they had gotten this diamond. Quickly translating as best he could between Igbo and German, Everett offered the claim that they had won the diamond in a simple game of chance. This was soundly rejected by Odafin, who explained that diamonds were only to be sold by guild members, and were not a thing to be gambled away to Outsiders. They must have been involved with smugglers, he said. The legal implications of this were obvious. Everett insisted that they were unsure of who they got it from due to the circumstances in which they met them, and they quickly showed Odafin the map to divert the conversation away from how they had no useful memories to defend themselves with. Odafin was quite interested in this map, noticing how it seemed to indicate a place across the great lake quite near where the annual silver tribute was to be taken, a place forbidden to outsiders and filled with royal guards.

Everett insisted that they were unsure of who they got it from due to the circumstances in which they met them, and they quickly showed Odafin the map to divert the conversation away from how they had no useful memories to defend themselves with. Odafin was quite interested in this map, noticing how it seemed to indicate a place across the great lake quite near where the annual silver tribute was to be taken, a place forbidden to outsiders and filled with royal guards.

Everett insisted that they were unsure of who they got it from due to the circumstances in which they met them, and they quickly showed Odafin the map to divert the conversation away from how they had no useful memories to defend themselves with. Odafin was quite interested in this map, noticing how it seemed to indicate a place across the great lake quite near where the annual silver tribute was to be taken, a place forbidden to outsiders and filled with royal guards. He seemed dismissive of the whole tribute business, but not directly so, oddly enough.


He then asked the adventurers how long they had been in Khirima, and after finding out they were fresh arrivals he intimated that if they were to assist him with discovering the meaning of this map he might be quite eager to assist them with something they might be interested in, such as seeing a forbidden Temple. He also offered the wayward Germans a fair reward for returning him the diamond they had found already, and told them they ought come to him again, should they learn more about the presumed diamond smugglers they had perhaps met.


Emboldened by their cash reward the adventurers returned to the tavern, and sternly questioned the tavern-keeper on the matter of who they had been drinking with last night. The tavern keeper, after being told about their involvement with the Minister, said in no uncertain terms that he had no desire to get involved in any political business whatsoever. He knew nothing about the men, only that he hadn't seen them before.


The adventurers consulted their map again, and saw they had a choice between a climb over mountains (near the Silver Tribute and it's guards), a path through the jungle, or a journey across the lake to reach their destination, which was further up another mountain still. They stocked up on rations and rope and went straight-away to the lake itself. They thought they would commission a boatman to take them more directly to where the map would lead them, rather than hack through overgrown jungle or risk being seen by those who deliver the silver.


At the lake shore a massive crowd of crocodiles roared in unison, and a raving Portuguese priestess spoke of bad omens. They made a quick arrangement with a nearby boatman, who had no desire to try and fish with all these bad omens afoot. He pointed out heaps of dead animals on the shoreline, and a blood-filled boat floating lonesomely in the waters. They came to a gore drenched beach, and he departed quickly once they disembarked. They paid him well enough that he promised to return the next day. The beach they stood on was scattered with weapons, which had seemingly be used to draw ornate designs in the sand. There was viscera and blood splattered across the rocks too. Strangely though, an book was lying in the sand, austere and untouched by any violence. Dietrich, the Magic-User, snatched this up after only a brief glance, planning to devote closer study to it later.


Now cautious but still determined they refocused on the map. They hacked their way through a patch of jungle, bringing them to mountainous terrain. They climbed this until night fell, and they set up camp in a place obscured by rocks and vegetation. Baldwin scouted further ahead in the growing darkness, and saw that there was indeed a camp where the map had indicated they should go.


When they awoke the next morning it was once again raining, though not as torrential as when they had arrived. A plan was formed: Baldwin and Everett would approach the camp to observe the men, and perhaps communicate with them. Heinrich and Dietrich would keep a bit of distance, but be nearby enough in case things went sour. Upon realizing that the men were keeping to their tents, on account of the rain, Baldwin and Everett thought they might try to commit arson on the campsite, and take advantage of the element of surprise. However, they had forgotten to being a tinderbox with them and cursed their unpreparedness. They instead lay in wait, while Heinrich and Dietrich crept closer.


Soon enough though a man emerged from the tent, as the rain broke slightly. He quickly saw the figures of Dietrich and Heinrich, but began to wave at them excitedly in a friendly manner. They hurried over, and Everett stepped out of cover to began acting as translator. Baldwin, meanwhile, stayed hidden with his sword drawn.


The smuggler was joined by a friend, who exclaimed that he thought they would never return as they had promised, and was so happy to see them now. He asked Heinrich how his arm was doing, and if he was craving any more of that sweet, sweet Orogoro. After some laughter the smugglers asked if they were ready to get down to business, and deliver the diamonds to Khirima as they had said they would before. They asked Everett where the diamond was that they had given them, as well.


They were incredibly unhappy to hear that it was gone, and after shouting at each other for several moments the smugglers seemed ready to commit violence on the Germans. They got right up in Everett's face, and asked him again where the diamond had gone while jabbing at his chest and face with their pointed fingers. Everett pleaded for calm fruitlessly.


Dietrich had neither interest nor empathy for the smugglers. As soon as trouble seemed imminent he uttered a magical incantation, so he might Summon a demonic creature to do his bidding. A levitating polyhedral shape suddenly existed then, impossibly floating in the air above all. Colorless and featureless, save for two pairs of ludicrous neon mouths across it's various triangular surfaces. For a moment it drifted lazily through the air, then exhaled a sound of supreme annoyance. It spoke to Dietrich in a chorus of infuriated voices, and demanded he offer a fleshy compensation for the insult of being brought forth into the ugly world of meat & matter unwilling. With very little hesitation, Dietrich pointed at the nearby Heinrich. The demon above Heinrich emanated a strange light onto him. The light bathed him wholly for one moment, then narrowed, and folded away into nothingness with Heinrich inside it. The demon vanished in this folding too, leaving nothing.


The smugglers shrieked in horror, distraught that a demon had somehow escaped the Temple, despite the Tribute. Clearly in the presence of monstrosity they begged Dietrich and Everett for their lives as they crawled away backwards. Baldwin then stepped out from his place behind them, and stuck his blade near their throats. The third smuggler, having witnessed this all from a nearby alcove surrendered as well, offering them a small box of uncut diamonds as payment in return for their mercy. Everett offered them all a choice: choose who would return with them as "evidence". Each chose the other, but then Everett said they would then have to be dealt with as an unwanted "witness". They all agreed to be evidence, at that point.


Dietrich, Everett, and Baldwin then tied the smugglers together, and marched their prisoners down the mountain and back to the mysterious shore. The boatman was there for them, as promised, and still eager to leave although the rain had washed away all the blood and occult detritus from the beach. They gave a cursory glance to the blood-filled boat on their way back towards Khirima, where the crocodiles still roared on the shore and Odafin awaited their return.












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