Thursday, September 22, 2016

Deep Carbon Observatory, Session 3: Big Fish & Little Fish

From Here
A candle-maker mocks the dead in the shadow of a church, and a butcher goes fishing for incense. A scholar finds an old sarcophagus, and a blacksmith goes for a swim after gold, and they all now travel outside the ruins of the city, and towards the broken dam.

Fishing in the flooded streets and alleys of Carrowmere was somewhat more bountiful for Victor Grey and Wit Tandoum the next day, and the pair caught a number of significantly sized pike which Catherine began smoking them using the pot-bellied stove they had recovered from the cellar cannibals. Stray Hrad commented that Carrowmere was known for such fine smoked pike before the flood as well.

Meanwhile butcher Orick, harboring concerns and suspicions about dead bodies after all those ambulatory corpses he and Talon had seen in the old town, dragged the ones that had accumulated  thus far into an empty home across the street from where they were encamped. Once he had gathered them there he got a small fire burning on the dry tops of the furnishings, and this soon climbed to the rafters and got the whole house to burning in short order. Over the rest of the day it smoldered and fell into rubble, but this thankfully did not ignite the others.

They lay down to rest somewhat more well fed than the day before, as Victor took the first watch.

The front door of the house they slept in was a Dutch one, with a top half and a bottom, each able to be opened independently of the other. Victor heard a very loud thud upon the top half of this door just as the darkness outside became solid, and this startled his companions to wakefulness and him to action. He flung open the top half of the door, and it smacked into the interloper. The light inside the house shone out onto a pale damp figure with a club of some sort gripped in one hand, and Victor did not delay to skewer it with the sharp end of his pole-arm.

He stepped out into the street, and looked about the house. There were no others, so he returned inside and sat quiet while the others began to snore. A great thud came from the western side of the house not long later, and Victor found himself dispatching another pale body. This one was armed with a brick.

Concerned by all the commotion, Wit was eager to help when he was told the walking dead were what kept banging on the house. Victor gave him a rapier and torch, and the two of them sat quiet together for not very long at all before another banging sound was heard. All were awake as he and Wit stepped outside, with Talon close behind. Another pale body stood before them.

Startling everyone with his quickness and precision, Wit lunged forward and pierced the thing through the guts. It crumpled to the ground silently, where Wit swiftly kicked it and then spat on it, before lowering his torch to it and setting it aflame. He had lived up to his own bragging. Talon pushed this body into the deeper waters of the street, and it drifted away.

Those not on watch had only just barely began to lay down when the next thuds came, it seemed. Another pale walker, also quickly dispatched and the set adrift in the water. Out of sheer frustration Orick summoned up the Effervescent Lights of Kwalish so that the others might examine the streets more thoroughly, but no other shambling bothers were seen.

There was a bit later, however, yet another. And then about one hour later, if one had counted, yet another. Each came to the house, and each bashed on it. They kept coming. No one slept enough, if they slept much at all. The only small relief was when dawn began to break very slightly, and Talon was able to prowl the streets and intercept two of these irritants before they reached the home, and then ceased appearing at all by dawn. The water prevented there from being any tracks to follow, to see where they might be coming from.

Despite their exhaustion they would still be leaving, as planned, on the skiff that Stray Hrad would provide them. Between strenuous yawns she told them where it was, near the church of the Optical God, and that she simply must sleep now that the interruptions were over. It was suggested that she use the cellar, after they removed the wrapped body of Sorla Ghyll from within. She went down there with the orphan son of Theodor Brosen, and with some found blankets and cushions made beds for both of them. They slept soundly, but not safely, as the Adventurers then trudged away squinting in the morning light.

Two young and weary men in vestments moaned and wept softly over the crumpled body of an older one who lay bent and broken on the steps below the steeple of the Church of the Optical God. "Our Bishop! Tham Ruesie! they said "He has taken his own life!"

In a voice fully devoid of sympathy, Victor said back plainly "So, he took the cowards way out?"

The young men were startled, but in their grief and fatigue did not register his disinterest. "The relic, the spoon, it was stolen form us!" said the one "He could not bear the shame!" said the other. They showed them around the interior of the church, explained the images in stained glass of the Lens-headed God they served that swung around a spoon. A great concave mirror stood above the altar, and broken clay bowls littered the floor.

After being shown to the skiff that the former mayor had promised them, Wit and Catherine began to nap. Orick meanwhile began to paw through the remains of this church, pocketing candles and vials of oil as he found them. Orick was in search of incense, so that he might perform a ritual that would call to his side a Familiar Spirit. He reasoned that these men had no need of such incense any longer, and they seemed not too disturbed at him taking it from them, at least once he mentioned that they needed to find a cemetery.

"We do not bury our dead in the city!" said one, "That would be a strange custom" said the other. They would need to take Sorla further out.

Orick was quite direct about their incense, had they any more of it? "There was more in the rectory" said one, and where was that? "Down the stairs" said the other, "but it has been flooded". Indeed, it had been flooded. The water allowed Orick and Talon to only scarcely keep their mouths above it, as they pawed through the floating trash and wreckage for several hours, finishing with only a few meager bottles of oil for their troubles. They left the men there without saying much of a goodbye, drifting out into the fields on the opposite flank of Carrowmere atop the modest skiff provided them.

Across the way, nearer to a plaza, there floated the large ship some had mentioned. The name LATIPAN was painted across the side, stout men walked atop it, and heaps of thin bodies were piled the shallow areas just before. Bodies stuck with crossbow bolts, bodies that resembled townspeople and farmers and other refugees from the ruthless water. This was surely the source of many orphans.

They kept drifting, towards the column of rising cloud that signified the site of the ruined dam.

Something glittered across the surface of the dirty water, golden twinkling around a small kind of satchel that bobbed lazily in the water. Victor, who manned the pole, steered the skiff towards it. As he did this, Catherine dove headfirst into the water and began to swim towards it herself. As she entered the water she saw something else near the bag of dust gold: the swell and wake that would be created by a larger swimming creature, one much larger than herself.

As she had begun to swim towards this bag Orick had realized her error, and enchanted her with the Ruby Ray of Reversal. This compelled her to do again what she had just done, which meant that she swam straight out instead of curving as she intended. This ultimately placed her a greater distance from the 9 foot predatory fish that took notice of her right away, once she had entered the water.

She turned about face and began paddling back towards the skiff in a frenzy, as the great pike bore down on her at a moderate but unnerving speed, its big jaws wide open. Orick called up the Effervescent Lights once again, with them this time taking the approximate form of a man. This glowed beneath the water, just in front of the edge of the skiff.

As Catherine was pulled aboard, the pike passed through the glowing man with its jaws gnashing into only glowing water. It turned around to bite again, and Victor pounced atop it like he might mount a wild horse, and with his pole-arm pointing downwards he pierced through the bottom jaw of it with ease. The pike began thrashing as Orick flung himself into the water as well, a meat hook in each hand: this would make a fine meal for everyone gathered upon the skiff, and he did not intend to lose it.

Catherine began tying a knot of rope around the end of another hook to form a sort of anchor, as Talon took careful aim at the fish with his bow. The pike thrashed again and flung off Victor and Orick both, but as an arrow pierced one side of it Orick surged back and dug into the other with his hook. Victor leapt back onto it as well, and then grabbed at the things gills and held tight while reaching for his dagger. Catherine now flung her meat-hook line towards the pike so it could not escape untethered, but it dug into the shoulder of Orick instead. With a groan he pulled it free, and then slashed into the fish once again, holding on to it as the fish attempted to wriggle free. The waters filled with blood, and the great fish floated lifelessly soon after. They would not go hungry for some time from this catch, and what was left of the golden dust was a welcome reward.

Two listless souls bobbed atop a hunk of grayish-greenish wood, covered in mud and leaves. The skiff came towards them, and welcome them to come along if they so wished. This man and woman were happy to join in their weariness, even when told they would need to hold onto the great fish for transport instead of resting upon the skiff.

Talon realized this was no mere log or tree trunk, as these people disembarked. With some mud scraped away by their movement it was clear that this was some sort of great sarcophagus. There was even a face atop the lid, although it was well worn by time and friction and could not be recognized as anyone in particular, though it was certainly someone. They would not investigate this now, but since this was able to float they lashed it to the skiff as well, and drifted on just a bit more slowly with their fish, and these survivors, and their dead.

They recalled what the scholar Tzani had told them about others like her who might investigate the dam and the flood: "Foolish academics most of them, they will certainly not make it far!" He had mentioned two in particular, called Rem Koolhaüs and Ruskin Behavior (pronounced "Be-Ha-Voa"), and openly mocked them as fools.

These two men who stood upon the water without any means of support for but a moment, before it became clear they were standing atop a ruined bridge with a canoe lashed nearby, seemed to be those very men. One was plump and wore a truly garish orange-red scarf, and the other a sickly looking fellow in a rather deflated and pitiful looking hat.

"Behaviour, you are a damn-fool idiot!", shouts the scarf-wearer. "Still your tongue, Koolhaüs, pig-dog-mongrel!" spits the thin one, who slaps the other. "You are a dullard and a dunce Ruskin! A moron!", "I despise your very face!" shouts Ruskin back, with another slap. "Quit slapping me you bastard!" he shouts in a Dutch-like accent, and yet Ruskin slaps again. "A duel!" insists Ruskin, "only a duel will suffice now!" The one called Koolhaüs screamed "FINE" in agreement, and with a sweep of his ends a wave of sparks rains down on Behaviour, who then spread his palms wide and produced what resembled a pane of clear glass in the shape of an egg around him, deflecting this assault. Koolhaüs redoubled this rain of sparks to no avail.

Catherine was perturbed to notice wakes and swells in the water that were all too familiar, ones just like those that had been made by the fish whose body they now towed behind them. Orick found this all both amusing and pointless, and began to interfere in this magical spat with magic of his own. He willed Evard's Frictionless Field to be formed beneath the feet of the two combatants.

Alas, Oricks spell went sour as he willed it into being, and a magical catastrophe began to unfold around him. Firstly, the Frictionless Field appeared below his feet, and coated the whole of the vessel. Secondly, the distortions of magic had caused all things around him to become quite weightless. In addition to this, Christina's eyes had become roiling clouds of thick foggy steam, and blood poured out from Oricks own.

So while slipping on a skiff is already troublesome, Christina slipped, and then spun through the air like a wheel due to the forces of inertia; her steaming eyes creating a somewhat elegant spiral as she rotated off into the air. Talon stumbled and was flying off too. Both Orick and Victor were able to hold on, and so one held out a Pole-arm while the other held out a fishing pole. Though she saw nothing but cloud, Christina was able to grab hold of the fishing rod so Orick might pull her to safety, whiel Victor gripped the Pole-arm and pulled Talon in towards him. Wit held the edge of the skiff for dear life as he toes pointed to the sky.

Both Koolhaüs  and Behaviour did not notice this disaster, so engrossed were they in combat. Behaviour gesticulated towards Koolhaüs, and with his roar of frustration rapidly increasing in pitch to a pitiful squeal Koolhaüs reduced in size by 50% "Damn you Ruskin!" he squeaked, before ensorcelling himself so that he might reutrn not only to his typical size, but to then twice that with his mocking laughter deepening to a low rumble. As he did this a truly gigantic pike then emerged from the water and glided between them, before lunging towards them once again and bashing Behaviour into the water, and then latching onto and tearing up the forearm of Koolhaüs with it's numerous and very sharp teeth.

The two refugees from the sarcophagus, meanwhile, were unable to keep hold of the body of the pike and floated up and off of it. As the skiff glided onward they floated back and away, blubbering in confusion. The field that made them weightless was, however, centered on the body of Victor. So they drifted up and away for only a few meters before they were too far for it to affect them, and so then plunged into the water were they began splashing and thrashing hopelessly as skiff continued drifting away.

None were able to pilot it, or slow it down, lest they lose their grip and drift away also. They were in the deeper waters now, where the river once was, and so the skiff floated more quickly as they were waiting for the weight to return to their bodies, catching glimpses of the wizards Koolhaüs and Behaviour falling victim to the well-known pike of Carrowmere.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Deep Carbon Observatory, Session 2: Have You Seen My Son?

Puttering about in the muck of a ruined city, a scholar confronts the manticore, a blacksmith flees a woman seeking a lost child, a butcher interrupts a meal among friends, and a candle-maker is shot in the back.
Squid are boiled by some to avoid starvation, while what smells like pork is eaten by some others.

Victor had resigned himself to being accompanied by Wit Tandoum, the malnourished street urchin orphan boy, and so tried to find a use for him. He instructed him in some rudimentary fishing techniques, giving him a rapier with which to drive out various scavengers from their hiding places, but it was all for nought.

They waded towards the ruins, the five of them with the earthly remainders of Sorla in tow. Up ahead was a tangled nest of buildings, with brick and timber precariously piled atop itself. From out of a slanted ruin several men tugged at a large beam. It shifted, and with a great splash and rumble collapsed.

"No! Theodor!" shouted several of them, along with curses, as they struggled to heave off hunks of wood and stone. The adventurers ran up, and in particular Victor. He tried lugging and tugging as well, and soon found a lifeless arm. The other men weeped and wailed, for Theodor Brosen was the man who had died, and Theodor Brosen had a family and now that family might surely starve.

Victor took immediately to scolding them for cowardice in the face of struggle. Would they act or would they mourn? They must do something if they would hope to live.

They had been trying to build a raft, so they might escape this place.

Up the flooded streets a man spoke with a small boy, and this boy was the son of Theodor Brosen, said the survivors of the collapse to Victor. Victor stomped towards him with vigor, and suspicion. He questioned him sternly, and more softly questioned the boy as well.

The man was straightforward, if not a bit shifty. "I am Terbil Tem!" he said. "Ah, you too have seen much horror in this catastrophe, what is that your companions drag with you? A body? Who was it?". The boy, also nervous and meek, answered his questions as well. "My brother and sister are in the house over there. Terbil Tem said he knew a place where we could eat."

Victor walked into the house, and peered around the corners. In ankle deep water was a bed, and a stove, and various cups and plates and other bits of domestic debris. The water was dirty and cold, like all the water. On the bad sat no children.

Victor stormed out the house and marched up to Terbil Tem and withdrew his rapier and scowled and snarled in his face "Where are they?"

While this transpired the light-footed scholar Talon was cautiously pursuing a cloaked and stooped figure at a distance, one similar to those he had seen before. He followed this person down a ways, to a place in the town where the buildings were up on ridges above the waters. This figure descended a short flight of stairs, set into the side of the buildings foundation.

After they descended he approached, and crept down the stairs too. There was a door, a cellar door, it stood ajar and he put his ears near it. He heard plates and knives and forks, chewing and mumbling. The lights inside were dim. He did not enter; he began to walk back towards where the others still stood.

"Where are the children?" said Victor. Terbil Tem stared dumbstruck at him, gulped a short breath, and then began to about face and scamper away. Without hesitation Victor lunged forward and punctured his leg with rapier so deeply it might have killed him on the spot. He fell to the ground screaming then sputtering as he hit the water while his blood gushed out.

"Hey! Why are you hurting Terbil Tem!" shouted out Wit. "I know him! He's a good man!" Terbil Tem shouted too: "Marauder! Why do you abuse me! What do you want with those children?" Victor withdrew a flintlock and pointed it squarely between his eyes. "Where are the children?" he asked. "Perhaps, perhaps they are at the house." said Terbil. "Then take us there."

Talon recognized the house that Terbil brought them to. Victor lead Terbil down the stairs, and prodded him to cry out "Hello! Is anywhere there? We have visitors!". Talon, meanwhile, had positioned himself above the doorway. Orick and Catherine were close behind them both.

Since the lights inside were dim, Orick began to gesture and mutter an incantation. What emerged shortly thereafter were known to practitioners of the Art as the Effervescent Lights of Kwalish, and these four glowing orbs did float about the room as willed by Orick and did light the dingy cellar with a most lurid and unusual glow. The room was divided in half by a curtain.

Alas, when Orick did this the strange forces empowering these magics did cause his eyes to weep out a continuous stream of blood, staining his cheeks. Orick also noted a scent of roasting pork wafting through the damp air.

A man with grease on his lips and chin looked out from behind a ratty curtain and spoke "What? Terbil? What has happened? What is this? And these lights, what is going on? And who are these people!"

Catherine grabbed one edge of the curtain and pulled, causing half of it to fall to the ground. There was seen a wooden table before them in the room beyond, with simple place settings and candles and two other men who sat with knives and forks before lightly charred chunks of meat. Behind them was a butchers block of sorts, and casks, and hooks on which hung small limbs and torso and other human portions. All this well illuminated by the Effervescent Lights of Kwalish.

Immediately after taking in this ungodly sight Victor skewered Terbil through the guts and let him fall to the ground and die, while Catherine withdrew a pistol and fired. It did not fire though, the damp powder merely sizzled in the pan.

One of the cannibals ran for the stairs, but Orick caused them to shine like polished glass with the Frictionless Field of Evard. As he reached them he stumbled and slipped, bashing his elbows on steps and gasping in surprise. Talon then fired an arrow at the base of his neck, but he narrowly missed. The arrow stuck into the wood by his left ear.

Victor stepped towards the other man, who stood behind the central pole supporting the floor above them. They whirled around this, the child-eater lunging with a great butchers knife and Victor with his rapier. Victor stuck the monster twice, before Orick withdrew a pistol of his own and tried to fire upon the other killer.

With a great blast and flash and stink of sulfur his pistol fired, but in the chaos and confusion of the cellar his shot was not true: he had shot Victor in the back, and he collapsed unconscious and bleeding. The cannibal cackled, and with a raised knife walked towards him.

Talon fired another arrow as the coward tried again to flee, and this arrow whizzed by his right ear as he fumbled upon the stairs.

The other wielding a knife slashed at Catherine, but she dodged every swing. She pulled out an arrow from the quiver, and she plunged it deep into his shoulder and collarbone. She leaned into it as he screamed, but then screamed herself as he plunged the kitchen blade deep into her stomach. She dropped to the ground blacking out, and the man laid his eyes upon Orick.

The man scrambling on the stairs turned around and looked up after taking notice of the arrows to his sides, and there he saw Talon for but one second before a third arrow pierced his skull.

The two men stepped closer, and they tried to wrestle him to the ground, while Orick brandished his old cleaver. As the first man groped at him Orick swung for the wrist. The heft and sharpness of the cleaver took off the hand of his assailant with remarkable ease, and after the second attacker failed to take hold of him Orick lopped off a hand of his as well. They both fell, and were dispatched with a few cursory chops, and then the cannibals all lay dead. Orick stepped out of the haze of the cellar, and roused his companions to wakefulness.

They insisted that Wit and the son of Theodor not look inside the cellar, despite their curiosity.

The house above the cellar was disheveled but livable, and they moved the stove from the cellar inside there so they might light it and dry the place. They also placed the body of Sorla in the cellar. While Victor and Christina tried to rest and recover from their various wounds, Victor examined the houses of the neighbors.

As Orick cleaned his pistol near a window, he saw two men come walking towards the cellar. "Hello!" he shouted. "Oh! Hello! Why...why are you in our house?", said one of them somewhat cautiously. "Oh? So this is your house then?" shouted back Orick, his pistol held quite visible. The men turned about and ran. They did not see Talon, but he saw them, and so he began to fire upon them with his bow. A few of his arrows struck them as he pursued, but after some time they managed to escape along the alleys and side streets.

Orick and Victor heard sounds of another sort of dispute down another way, and there they saw an older woman being bellowed at by some great mountain of a man, blonde-bearded and carrying a great broadsword.
"I am Alredo Jahn! Who are you, mere fisherman?" he thundered at Orick, gesturing at his fishing gear. He frequently interrupted the two of them when they attempted to converse. "I am Alfredo Jahn, the great warrior, and these are my companions!" a grinning, fully tattooed man leered at them "I am the Durmitor" said he, while gripping a glowing mace. "And that is Veshtoroc!" bellowed Alfredo, towards a woman who was half withered and wizened, with the other half still quite beautiful. There were three others with them, with a mercenary look about them. Others still lurked beyond them, odd looking scouts of some sort or another.

Victor and Orick were not humbled by this display, and after some displays of their own confidence and a few sharp words were able to drive these interlopers away, much to the visible relief of the woman. "We'll be seeing you again, I'm sure!" shouted Alfredo, as they left.

The woman thanked them profusely. Her name was Stary Hrad. She was once the mayor of Carrowmere, before the flood, and was now only trying to keep it from being flooded once again by gold-bugs like Alfredo and his ilk. They had wanted to defend the town from those who would ransack after being drawn in by rumors of treasure, but Stary only wanted someone to prove there was no treasure to be found in the ruins of the dam. She offered much silver, and even a boat, to those who would gather this evidence for her. They brought her back to the house, and decided they would borrow her skiff the next morning.

Only partially recovered from his injuries, Victor looked about the alleyways. Down one he heard a great commotion, a sort of fracas, but he heard only the voices of adults and so left them to resolve it on their own.

Looking down the main street above the cellar, in front of the house he was resting in, he saw the great column of cloud rising far off in the distance from where the dam was said to have once stood. Also in the road up ahead he saw a woman examining this column with a spyglass, while a small boy crept up to the satchel next to her.

He ran up, and drew the woman's attention to her belongings. "Theif! Rotten theif!" she shouted, while grabbing at the boy angrily. "Let me go!" shouted the boy, quite clearly guilty of what the man shouted. They were both brought back to the house. The man was a scholar named Tzani Spillios, a scholar of the sciences of man and other man-like animals. He claimed that all the rumors of treasure beyond the dam erroneously referred to a village of golden-hued reeds that floated upon the water. Her scrolls were tools to aid her in her studies, and she knew not why this impudent boy would want them.

The boy, named Torca Jou, spouted a tale of woe and misfortune: his sister had been taken by two figures with black cloth on their faces, and they would kill her if he did not bring them these scrolls. He was to bring them alone, to a plaza in the old town.

Victor was somewhat dismissive of this tale, but Christina believed him as did Orick and Talon. A plan was formulated: they would make some false scrolls for Torca, scout the area ahead, and observe these scroll-gatherers and extortionists themselves. The gathered some bits of wood that were roughly scroll-case sized, and bundled them up. Talon and Orick then went onward, while Christina waited in recovery.

The old town was starkly empty, and the water there was knee-high. The plaza was quite empty too, and there sat in the middle of it a fountain like the one Torca had described to them. Around the perimeter was bits of debris, an upturned wagon and some smashed marketplace stands. Orick and Talon hid themselves in this detritus, and waited for Torca.

Torca came, and he placed the satchel on the edge of the high fountain. He wandered off and away, back towards the house. There was no movement for some time, and Orick and Talon kept still. Then came a figure, steadily plowing through the water. It picked up the satchel roughly, and wandered off too. They followed, keeping far back. Another figure approached this one, and it took the satchel and walked off another way. The first figure stood there then, very still.

They came up to it, and looked it in the face. It was a man, pale and damp and glassy-eyed. It did not blink nor breathe. It muttered clumsily "bag. bag.". Orick pointed to a nearby house "The bag is there!". The figure walked towards it. They continued after the other one.

These were not normal men, they realized.

The second figure dropped the satchel on the steps of a house, and wandered off. They took cover then, and kept their eyes upon the satchel. They waited, for quite some time.

Christina had grown anxious, as this was taking much longer than she had hoped. She called Wit, and brought him with her as she left for the aforementioned plaza.

The plaza was not empty when they reached it; a woman stood upon the edge of the fountain in the center. She saw them both approach, and reacted with surprise.

"Oh! Oh my! Hello! Have you son? My son. I am looking for my son. His name is...Torca. Have you seen Torca?"

She had a tense and unusual manner about her, and there were odd pauses in her speech. She carried a staff.

Christina said that no, she had not seen her son.

"Are you sure? You haven't seen...Torca?"

She squinted. She was silent. Christina stepped back, and so did Wit. They had not seen him.

The woman spoke again, now more excitedly and insistent.

"Do you know the name Von Der Linth?"
"Von Der Linth. Do you know it?"

"Von Der Linth! Von Der Linth! Von Der Linth!"

She stamped her staff into the ground beneath the water, and nearly one dozen pale and wet figures rose up from the muddy water, and began plowing towards them.

Wit and Christina ran.

The woman began to wave her arms in odd gestures, and then spiraled up and off the ground like a whirling corkscrew. She flew past Wit and Christina at a great speed, leaving a wake in the water below her. She was now facing them, and pointed a hand towards Wit and began muttering an incantation, while the pale and the silent walkers pursued them behind.

Wit began to choke, and turn blue. Christina scooped him up in her arms, and then withdrew a short blade and rushed towards the levitating woman, he began to drift higher. She jabbed her in the gut, and she gasped. Christina kept running, while Wit still choked.

The scholar Tzanni was not good company, and so when she said she would be going outside to continue her studies Victor was most relieved. He had asked her if she knew anything of the science of healing or medicine, and she laughed at him. He had no use for her.

Shortly after she had stepped outside her heard he wince in pain, then begin gasping. He shuffled out to her. When she saw him she pointed at him and began shouting in terror.

"MANTICORE!" she screamed "FOUL BEAST WITH YOUR POINTY TAIL! YOU SHALL NOT POISON ME MANTICORE!". She began to crawl away. Victor tried grabbing at her, and pulled out an arrow from her side. She gasped again "YOU WILL NOT BE BITING ME WITH NEEDLE TEETH!". He tried to clobber her with his pole-arm, so she might be brought to her senses, but she managed to run off with her scrolls and potions into the wreckage.

Victor looked at the arrow that had pierced her. It was of a strange design: a groove along the center of it held some kind of strange material: a glistening slime mixed with a dull powder, and other small chunks of matter he could not identify.

Orick and Talon stood by the empty house for some time, before deciding to finally enter it. It was locked, and so they cleared a partially broken window before entering. After pawing through what they found there they found themselves in possession of some new blankets and coats, as well as a fine wheel of waxed cheese and a well-cased sausage. When they returned to the streets they saw a small contingent of pale and steadily walking men in the distance, similar to the ones they had seen before. Orick took no interest in it, realizing they had been duped already, but Talon thought to follow them.
Following them took Talon far outside the perimeters of the town, through fields and farmlands. The men all walked in a straight-enough line seemingly aimless. After some hours they came to a hillside too steep to be walked up, and despite this they attempted to scale it again and again. They kept stumbling, eventually bashing themselves upon rocks and causing visible harm to their bodies. Talon watched for some time before wandering back.

The levitating woman did not hound Christina, and Wit was able to draw breath once again after they were far enough from her. She returned to the house as dusk fell, and there found Orick and Victor. Talon would come later, and she would learn of what became of the Scholar. She made acquaintance with the mayor, and learned that they would soon have a boat with which to travel to the dam, and the tombs, and perhaps other places. Torca did not return. They boiled up a simple broth of caught squid, and they held back starvation.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Carcosan Terrains

I've yet to run a Carcosa campaign, though I know I will at some point. I've been gathering up these images of sites on earth that evoke the place for me, as I've imagined it.

Brutalist architecture for the various abandoned and occupied structures, with vast emptiness and wastelands for the untouched natural world. The occasional yurt is where the desperate Men of various colors eke by in their cloistered tribes. No cities, no agriculuture. 

Hunting and gathering in an unfriendly world not intended to be lived in. Societies without culture or real progress, harsh subsistence disrupted by irrational internecine and sectarian conflict, or the reckless invocation of destructive sorceries and the use of dangerous technological artifacts not comprehended by those wielding them. 

A world that is vast and quiet and mostly empty, the silence interrupted by the eruptions of unspeakable Elder Gods and the screams of laser-burning extinction.

 I'll probably use it for one-shots.
Carcosan Terrain

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Deep Carbon Observatory, Session 1: Things Lost in the Flood

A naked man is comforted by a blacksmith, a butcher gets involved in funeral services, a candlestick maker watches an old man die, and a scholar pulls a blade on an orphan.

A group of disaster survivors have become Adventurers, and now head towards the ruins of a great dam through a ruined city, a place destroyed in the same catastrophic flood that has taken everything else from them.

When the went past Carrowmere, and through Pollnagollam, a great many things beyond those places were lost in the rushing waters.

Orick Verdun was the son of a butcher, and his fathers father was a butcher too, and this pattern went back much farther in the ancestry. Orick would have been the first in his family history to abandon the pursuit of meatcutting, as Orick had learnt just enough of the art of Magic to decide that a butchers life was not the life for him. When the flood came and destroyed the family shop, and also took that family along with it, Orick was all but already prepared: he had planned to soon depart his family forever, and had already packed what he owned and valued. With a rope of sausages and a pair of pistols he traveled towards the place from where the floods had come.

Talon de Frey was a scholar and a teacher, and he despised every one of his students. He felt no great pain when the university did crumble in the flood, and he would not pine over any of these drowned pupils. All the same, he had returned from a journey abroad to find his livelihood now ruined, and so went towards the broken dam beyond Carrowmere to see what might lie there: he was scholar of old treasures, and other things of value long missing.

Catherine D' Ambray lived an austere life of stoic self sufficiency, and through occasional work as a blacksmith was able to fund a mostly solitary existence in the wilds. The water that came washed away not only the buyers of her goods but also the wild game and other edible parts of the natural world upon which she depended. So with her apron, hammers, and longbow she joined the others and walked towards the floodlands.

Viktor Gray knew well the techniques of bloodshed and slaughter, but did his very best to no longer practice them. He was a chandler now, a candlestick maker, and spent his days meditatively dipping wicks and tapering those candles to  elegant points instead of the old profession of bashing in heads and lopping off arms and legs as he had so much before. This gentle pursuit was made impossible by the floods, and though he didnt lose much else that was all he really had to lose. So Viktor took up the old armaments, still sharpened and well-mainted, and journeyed with the rest to Carrowmere,

There was a woman called Elizabeth who would have joined all this too, but she was weak and had drowned in the floods, since the floods spared nobody at all.
Atop a steep hillside these four Adventurers did find themselves looking down upon Carrowmere, beyond the trees at the base of that same hill. The looked upon ruin-crammed water dappled with dim sunlight, and through the haze could see little detail in the devastation. Carrowmere was all but gone. They walked down this hill and through a waterlogged wood, coming to fields just outside the city. Here they first saw what others had lost, and were in the process of losing now.

Catherine saw a withered old man, damp and nude; she heard him muttering sadly and cursing as crept closer to him between the trees. He dragged a dead body along with him. Catherine approached him, and he spoke. The body he dragged was the body of his wife, and her name was Sorla. He was Curtis Ghyll. Sorla was a fortune teller, when she lived. Though she would not say when she would die, she had told Curtis that he ought never take her to the family tomb, should the need arise. She said there would be strangers who would do this task instead. This was why Curtis became so happy, despite his nudity and loss. Her body was more or less intact as well, as she died only that morning.

Orick approached too, though not very stealthily, after he had attended to a robed man sputtering and slipping off a floating log some distance ahead. He and Talon had rescued this most gratful man, a priest called Selenium Tem. Selenium wore the splendid symbolic eye of the Optical God. Although having just barely evaded drowning by means of Orick and Talons arrival he was primarily concerned about that state of his church. He did some brief sermons over the body of Sorla Ghyll, while Orick, after being told of his expected burial and transportation duties as stranger spoken of in prophecy, wondered aloud if he might be able to use some butchers tricks to make her easier to transport. He did not act on this idea.

Catherine caught sight of something in the distance, a gaggle of youths sinking and thrashing in water that was hopelessly deep for them. They chased something in the water, and would die if they kept chasing it. As Catherine trudged towards them she heard their weeping cries of "Mother! Mother!" towards a body that was rapidly drifting away. She reached them just in time to hold them back, and gathere them, and drag them to the treeline with the priest, the widower, and the body of his wife.

Viktor caught sight of a man struggling to navigate a crumbling, badly improvised raft. This raft was weighted down with the feeble elderly, and many children. He leaned into the guiding pole as the raft began to fragment into smaller portions. Plowing through chest high water, Viktor grabbed at what pieces he could and tried to hold them together with sheer muscle. It seemed a hopeless task, and both young and old began spilling into the water and quickly sinking. Soon came Orick, Talon, and Catherine, who all began wrapping rope around what solid pieces they too could grab. Orick embedded his meat hooks into the planks of wood to better tug it all along, and together they managed to hold it in a sort of form. They began piling survivors back on as fast as they were able, but they had already begun to drift away. Attempting to save a desperate silver haired man, Viktor held one end of the boatmans staff with one hand, and with the other held out his polearms handle. Despite his best efforts the man was unable to keep his grip, and Viktor saw as he gulped down a few final mouthfuls of water before sinking down, then silently floating away.

They dragged the raft to the treeline, where the water was nearer to calf-level. Viktor distributed all the rations he had among the children when he realized they had all been starving, and Catherine listened in as a child told her about the old witch called Gruta, who had been drowned in the well after being thrown down it, She had been stabbed and smashed and cut and burned and poisoned too, and now she surely drifted free. The boatman Callao said this was all nonesense, but the children seemed preternaturally serious about the matter. They were all from Pollnagollam. Catherine quietly asked the child what color this witches hair might be, and the child said it was orangey-red. Catherine then eyed the hair of all bodies suspiciously, watching for witch-colored hair.

While others worked to repair the raft more thoroughly Orick cast a spell which coated the bottom of the raft with an unnatural grease, and this caused it float much more buyoantly.

Catherine saw the minder of more than a dozen children be driven to tears as they ran from her, the dark haired woman began screaming as they scattered into the watery streets.
Talon trudged beyond where they had pulled the raft from. A woman was wandering amongst wrecked houses; babbling about unclean meat and how "she didn't eat them". When he asked her who them was she pointed to corpses. Her gibberish was too  much to bear, and he ignored her. Orick approached a starved and crazed looking woman fishing with a simple stick and twine from the crumbling bits of a wall. She was quite eager to show him her only catch: a waterlogged corpse, with a mouth full of golden dust. "If only one could eat that!" she proclaimed. Orick scraped this dust from the cold corpse mouth, and upon hearing from her that many such bodies carried this kind of treasure investigated several more nearby. Their mouths had only teeth, unfortunately. She was most grateful for the sausages he gave her, all the same.

Talon went further, to a smallish bank above the waterline. Shallow graves had been dug here, and before them stood a wild haired man who tore at his balding scalp in furious despair. He bemoaned his miserliness, which had lead to him never appreciating of his own family, who now all lay here dead. He promised a vast rewards to anyone who could explain to him the cause of this most merciless diaster. There was movement then, atop another muddy mound a distance ahead: a hooded sort of figure pawing about in the dirt. As Talon slowly appraoched though the figure crept away, carrying something in its arms. It glanced back and saw that it had been observed. It was some kind of person it seemed, and this person ran further into the city ruins, and out of sight. When Talon examined the burial mound he saw a fresh stump at the leg of one body, indicating a limb had been recently removed. He caught movement in corner of his eye; a boy had crept up to him just like a pickpocket. The boy froze when Talon unsheathed his blade and pointed it directly at him. He wanted food, and his name was Wit Tandoum. He followed Talon back when he returned to the survivors. He looked to be a beggar boy, and he said he wanted to come with them. He carried a knife himself, and he said that he was tough, and strong too. Catherine took a shine to him immediately, and provided him with pieces of squid. Viktor had impaled this squid in the water, after seeing how crowded these waters were with scanvengers.

It was proposed that they could go, Adventurers survivors and all, to a house that had not been fully ruined to perhaps find shelter, and also a kitchen in which they might prepare some food. Callao was incredulous. Go back> To what? This had all been ruined, destroyed by the flood. Pollnagollam was gone, Carrowmere was gone. All was gone: these waters would never recede. And they had almost died there, they would not go back to drown. All they wanted was to leave this place behind, to beyond all this horror and loss.

Viktor told them there was not much else where they had come from, as it too had also been ruined in the flood.

It could not be any worse than this, said Callao, after almost no pause at all.

They gave Callao the raft, and Viktor gave them candles and torches. Callao thanked them profusely, praising their great generosity and profound kindness and heroism. Callao had seen a great ship outside Carrowmere after leaving Pollnagollam, but the men on that ship would spare no rations, even for these starving children. The Adventurers, he said, were much better people than they. So as those meek and feeble souls went off towards new and unfamiliar devastation the Adventurers went deeper into the drenched ruins of Carrowmere, both towards uncertain ends.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

World of the Lost, Session 15 & Epilogue: The New World After

Unrecognizable to All. From Here.
Accompanied by their doll-like duplicates, the Adventurers gazed upon a four limbed spindly thing delicately creeping through a chamber containing two massive disks. One was in the center of the floor, and the other upon the ceiling. In each corner of this chamber was a cube, one bronze, one copper, one iron, and one of brass. It faintly smelled of oranges, and there was a fine mist halfway up the chamber, suspended in the air. A circle of silver spheres was situated in the center of the ceiling, in the center of one of the discs. Nasr fired a pistol at the spheres, and once the smoke had cleared all saw that his shot was now lazily floating in the mist fifty feet above, as if it were weightless.


Said the doll-simulacra of Edoni. He agreed.

As three of the doll-persons walked to a metal cube in each corner of the room Edoni followed. He stood before the copper one, and saw that atop it was a blue button. A doll-person spoke.


Edoni pressed the button. At the very instant it was pressed flat his feet left the floor, as if were plummeting downward into open air. They were almost a foot from the ground when he pulled his finger away from it, causing him and all others inside the chamber to clatter to the floor. The dolls whirred, and cliked.

After gravity had been restored, the two remaing dolls began to approach the chamber beyond this one.


The chamber they walked into was stark and nearly empty, save for two massive dark metal spheres that floated above the ground on opposite ends of the room. Up above there floated two pyramids, each connected to the other at the tip. From the bottom of the angular hourglass dangled many thin wires of sparkling silver. Two mechanical oddities, completely identical, buzzed through the air overhead.

The dolls approached the space between the spheres, and saw that the ground was covered in an intricate design of loops, lines, and curves. They touched them, so that they might determine their purpose through tactile interaction, and they began to glow a lurid green.

The two spheres then fly up into the air in a distinct curve, collided with each other causing a tremendous crash, and began to veer wildly around the room. The buzzing guardians then descended towards the dolls while emitting a hissing noise along with a yellowish spray.

Seeing this fracas erupt lead to Gerald, Nasr, and Edith deciding to take a different route back the the chamber of the pyramid, so that they might retrieve the great silver disc. While there Edith also befriended the snake-like chain, which enjoyed her gentle petting. She let it curl up in her knapsack before they left.

The sound of the anomaly was scarcely heard over the din of crashing spheres. Five figures in matte white jumpsuits and smooth faceless black helmets found themselves standing before a great pyramid erected beneath a flat black ceiling. They withdrew their military grade plasma rifles, and crouched into formation. They crept around the pyramid, and made visual contact with three bipedals carrying a large metallic object.

The voices that barked out of their helmets spoke a language rooted in Chinese, but it was language that was several thousand years older than the Chinese spoken by the Adventurers. They were startled by this strange militia, who gestured at them to kneel and raise their hands through aggressive gesturing with their rifles.

Nasr would have none of this, and flung an explosive device at them as he dropped to the floor. The resulting blast tore off the soldiers limbs and scattered pieces of them in all directions, and this trauma was enough to overcome their exponential healing factors that had been amplified by nanotechnologies beyond Nasr, or anyones, understanding. They were dead, and their rifles clattered and skid across the ground. Nasr proceeded to gather them.

It was decided that discretion would be the appropriate virtue to pursue at this time, so the Adventurers began to head towards the chamber which contained the sphere that might transport them back to the land of Vilnid.

Edoni was still occupied by the doll-people in the room of gravity and orangey gasses, however. One doll pressed down a blue button that sat atop a bronze cube, and then all things in the room suddenly began to dift about as if they were suspended in water. The smell or oranges began to spread throughout the room, as the layer of vapor began expanding.

In the chamber of the sphere, meanwhile, the four pyramids throughout the room began to spew out numerous vapors, which previously had caused paralysis and grim hallucinations.

The three dolls then pushed themselves off of wall and floor to propel themselves towards the ceiling, as the spindly guardian pursued them shooting gouts of flame. These gouts of flame burst larger, and seemed to set the very air on fire where the wisps of orange-scented gas were hanging.

Nasr then wrapped a bit of cloth around his chain that could become a rod, ignited this cloth, and extended the rod into the room. Edoni propelled himself from the wall in a manner similar to the dolls, but instead towards Nasr, and the sphere, and a means of escape. He reached him just as the chamber became engulfed in citrus flames, the dolls began to tear down the device, and the guardian covered them in gouts of fire.

As the sphere chamber filled with gasses, Markana ran from Tallius, but stumbled and fell. Edith tried to drag Tallius along with her into the sphere, leaving Markana behind, but she protested.

" must never...abandon...a Cadet"

Begrudgingly, Tallius then flung Markana, and Tallius, then finally herself in the smoky orb. Edoni, Nasr, and Gerald flung themselves in as well. They all tumbled through a heady cloud, until they were then suddenly in the now familiar pink dust and greenish sky of the lands of Vilnid.

Markana had roused the ire of the Adventurers through cowardice, so Gerald offered them a mushroom for nourishment. This was of course the same sort of mushroom that had caused derangment and disease in Gerald, and so upon eating it Markana immediately began to babble as their pupils widened into black saucers. Markana began to writhe along the ground.

"I am a snake. I'm a little baby snake. I hiss. Hiss. Hiss."

Tallius was nearly unconcious, weak from fever and trauma, and so did not question these proceedings too closely. In the distance a great prismatic caterpillar began squirming towards the Adventurers, and so they quickly fled towards the ruins of Vilnid.

Gerald still felt animosity towards the pit of violet slime which had nearly killed him once before, so he insisted they visit it one final time. As he drew near it he requested that Nasr lend him his last explosive, a rather large one, and then rolled it into the muck with the match cord lit.

The resulting eruption flung burnt and crumbling clumps of violet scum across the landscape, and Gerald felt deeply satisfied. In the bottom of the former violet slime pit lay a fist sized gemstone, also violet.

But beyond this violet pit was another, a smaller fuschia one. It let out a plaintive cry into the minds of the Adventurers. A cooing, pitiful little voice.

Please, oh please help me! I am trapped here. 

They appraoched it.

Please, help me. I am trapped! I was born from that terrible Life Stone, as all we slimes were. Do not touch it! It is poison! Will you help me? Please.

Edoni asked how he might help, and it replied.

Drink me. Will you drink me?

Edoni knelt down, and did drink. The fuschia muck then immediately engulfed his face, and forced itself down his nostrils and throat. It roiled about inside his stomach, and Edoni gurgled and strained to resist it as it tried to consume his mind. Grunting heavily, he then retched and began vomiting it out while it whimpered and screamed, it seeped into the earth and vanished. Edonu coughed and sputtered, and felt a new resilience within his soul.

Curious about the so-called "Life Stone", they encouraged the deranged Markana to touch it. When this did not work they placed his hand upon it instead.

His hand became a birds claw while his arm grew scales like a fish, he rose up on antelope legs while many mouths grew along his torso. His eyes became a cats eyes, then almonds, then tongues. His head elongated and became a corkscrew tail, while from the back to front he became a nine-foot pig. His limbs no mushrooms, hands grew from his spine as it limbered forward. The lion with the apple tree branches tried to roar with a frog mouth, and only an eel came out as it crumbled into the dirt and shuddred becoming a jellyfish of dogs that crumbled.

Gerald then wrapped this stone in cloth, very carefully, and placed it into his backpack.

They stepped through the bone tower, and all heard tales of the miserable dead.

Tallius in particular was told the story of a brave Captain who was transformed into something inhuman by forces beyond his comprehension, and then disemboweled and compressed into a biological fog by forces he would never understand.

Tales of merchants torn to pieces in their stalls, and great singers who would have become legends were they not trampled by fleeing crowds.

They stepped out of the tower into Khirima, and all was chaos. Eerie stillness punctuated by roars and screams, and the distant clamor of marching spearmen.

They ran from it all, out of the city, praying that nothing would see them fleeing. Something did.

Near the shores of the lake was a small crowd of flying men, now armed with metal weapons. They appraoched. The adventurers then bared their teeth at them, the signal of non-aggression they were shown so long ago in the Aerie. The flying men stood still, and gazed at them as they did this. After a moment of tense scrutiny the flying men then turned away, and took to the air.

The Adventurers then ran down a road once traveled many weeks prior by four foolish Germans who theought they could steal a fortune in silver from a forbidden temple, and so left the devasted world of Khirima behind for the changed and ruined world beyond that.

Their small fortune in silver allowed them to bribe and bargain their way to safety much faster than other, less wealthy refugees. They went from Khirima to Lagos, and from there took a ship to Morocco. They stayed there with Nasr for some time before departing their separate ways.

The horrors of the plateau rampaged across Nigeria in all directions, spreading wanton destruction and eliminating all chance of normalcy for the peoples who remained there. King Ishola died in the fall of Khirima, along with his kingdom.

Gerald returned to England, and finding the island lifeless and empty then returned to Lagos. Lagos became the last bastion against the various horrors of the land beyond: The Exiles now ruled it, and had transformed it from a port-city to a walled fortress. After making an alliance with the Exile leadership, he then hired the bravest of mercenaries and returned to Khirima. There he found the bone tower, and made expeditions into the world of Vilnid where he gathered the potions still produced by those burbling slime pits.

Edith, with Tallius, returned to France and also discovered it empty. She claimed what she found there, and with her fortunes began a new nation with her as Queen. Her crest was a tiger, encircled by a snakelike chain.

Edoni set sail for the now abandoned colonies of England, once word had spread that all the English had fallen dead. With his fortunes he thought he might achieve some influence over this newly born nation.

Nasr then spent the rest of his days attempting to decipher the strange technolgoies recovered from the temple, artifacts from times and spaces untouched by any other beings in this universe.

The beings which had once created and the Temple, and then abandoned it, had long forgotten it was ever there.

World of the Lost, Sessions 14 & 15: At The Expense of All Creation

A Greater Triumph. From Here.
As they all cautiously passed through the massive chambers Jolan asked numerous questions about what the adventurers had encountered thus far, and grew frustrated with their answers. After examining various features of the Temple himself, along with the Cadets Tallius and Markana, he declared that the Temple was in fact some kind of “experimental facility”, which was causing “temporal anomalies” through some unknown but ongoing process. These anomalies could apparently have disastrous effects should they continue to occur unchecked, and were now the presumed reason that he and his Cadets had been plucked from the world they knew, a “survey-class cruiser” in the “alpha centauri region”, and brought to this one.

After examining some of the great silver objects still intact in each chamber, as well as the one they had already gathered, Jolan declared these to be “central processors”. To stop the anomalies these “central processors” would need to be interacted with, deactivated, and perhaps even destroyed. He made this final statement as they entered a new chamber, inside of which a small pyramid of silver floated near the ceiling, and on either side of this pyramid stood two massive pairs of mirrors, 10 feet wide and nearly 100 feet tall, that stood thirty about feet apart.Along the northern and southern walls near each of the corners were large glass cubes, about five feet on each side. Within each one there appeared to be some sort of creature, suspended and motionless. Edith approached one that held a sort of cat, and as she drew closer she realized this was in fact a tiger.

Not a full sized tiger, but one only 2 feet long from nose to tail. She walked faster as she realized this, but then suddenly the cube began to crumble and dissolve. The tiger slumped to the ground, limp and groggy. She picked it up and held it in her arms like it were a simple housepet, and tried to soothe it. It seemed receptive to her kindness.

“Incredible! But please, stay back from the others. We don’t know what these technologies are capable of. Allow us to scan the central processor first. Tallius, would you do the honors?”Tallis then walked towards the center of the chamber so that she might stand beneath the pyramid, and in doing so passed beneath a pair of mirrors. As she did this she immediately began to stumble, then gag. She fell to the ground retching. Markana gasped and ran towards her, but followed the same path between the mirrors. She doubled over in pain, clutching her stomach and moaning.“My god! Tallius! Markana!”

And so Jolan ran after them too, but as he passed through the mirrors he did not cry out in pain, though he did seem momentarily quite distressed and confused, and became quite dizzy.
Nasr, however, was not so cautious and simply walked between the other pair of them.

At that moment, as he turned towards Edith, the bacterial consciousness in control of the body of Nasr felt a roiling thunder of exquisite pain as his bowels began cramping with such great enthusiasm that numerous muscles began to tear, producing alarming noises as he doubled over in agony.
It began screaming in defiance as it tried to defy the will of the collective renegade gut flora. As it persisted these screams became ones of disappointment and rage as the forces that had caused this situation to occur began to diminish. The Nasr’s felt his consciousness detach from the billions of bacteria and recombine into one, as the bacteria felt themselves become unseated and then shattered into amnesiac billions once again. They were resettled into the empty minds of their old forms with no recollection of what had passed, with only a strange feeling that were now in a body that was not originally theirs. They were correct. Nasr felt only a dull pain in his bowels, and a sense of unease over what had transpired over the previous 12 seconds.
Tallis and Markana began to spit up bile after being dragged into a corner of the room far from any glass cubes or mirrors. Their skin was beginning to show vivid sores, and they were dripping sweat. Jolan seemed alright, if not a little bit more crazed and shaken. “I will attend to them” he said. “You must go on, and dismantle this place. I will catch up with you once they are stable.”
The  adventurers began to walk towards the next chamber, but were interrupted by a weak, moaning scream. It came from Tallius.
Jolan was crouched over the Tallius. He faced the adventurers who now shouted at him. His lips and chin were coated in blood, it dripped off his face and onto the floor.
“Do not worry, I am applying pressure! The wound is not severe! I can explain this!”
He was accused of biting her, and drinking her blood. He denied only the biting as he wrapped a bandage around the gash on her arm.
“I did not bite her! I used this, my multi-tool. It has a knife. I have been transformed. My biology. I had no choice. The hunger and thirst was unbearable. This place is dangerous and it must be destroyed.”
As he passionately spoke one could see that he was quite soaked in Tallius’ blood, from chin to crotch.
“The core processors, those silver objects. They must be disabled! It’s the only way!” he licked his lips. Tallius groaned.
“She will be alright! Please, we must continue.”
They continued onward to the next chamber.

Edoni, observing that passage between the mirrors seemed to cause great distress, walked past the mirrors along the side, so his reflection was not within him. He began to help drag the three to safety.
Deep within the gut system of all humans are billions upon billions of vaguely sentient bacteria, who exist in a parasitic relationship with mankind. They believe they are held in servitude by human bodies, however, and kept like slaves. They resent this. The idea of seizing control of the bodily prison they live in is the ultimate dream of all these beings, one they cling to despite it being, prior to this moment, utterly impossible.

Of all the countless bacteria to have ever existed those within Nasr’s bowels became the most fortunate to have ever come into being the moment he passed between the mirrors, for these bacteria were now the first to transcend their imprisonment as they had long dreamed of. the form of the great body they were imprisoned within, as they did within all bodies, within all humans. This was like a religion to them, this idea of great ascension. They were now pulled from their billions of bodies, and their minds coalesced into a single unit of conscious thought while, Nasrs mind was plucked out and replicated into billions of tiny synchronized fragments. This bacterial consciousness gestalt was then situated in full control of the nervous system the body once belonging to Nasr, while the billions of simultaneous Nasr consciousnesses were populated through the now empty minds of the gut bacteria.
Gut Bacteria-Nasr screamed out with a wild, lunatic passion that strained his vocal cords. “AT LAST! THE BODY IS MINE!” . It continued to scream and cackle as it faced Edith with hands outstretched, intending to avenge its enslaved fellows by strangling the life from her. Before his hands could reach her throat, however, the billions of Nasr's within Nasr became aware of these ill intentions, and so acted in unison acted to oppose him in the only way they could.

A large pale cylinder occupied the majority of the center of the room. A disc hovered in each corner of this room, each at differing heights. At the ceiling buzzed an unnatural shining thing, like some kind of mad bee or wasp made of hammered foils and metals.

It was seen that these platforms could be moved, and so with a clever hook and rope system fabricated by Nasr they were able to shift the position of a disc that hovered at approximately 20’ from the corner of the room to a place nearer the side of the column. Using another hook and rope, Nasr begin to climb towards the top.

He had all but reached the edge of the surface when the skittering floating insect-thing then began to buzz towards them with a clearly ill intention. Edoni then promptly muttered forbidden and sacred words, and these did open a windowed gate to a world beyond, from which emerged a crystalline bumblebee-thing of great size. From its hindquarters emerged three stingers instead of one, and the room filled with both a pungent stench and a tingling heat on the skin resembling a sunburn. From the central segment of it’s body emerged a single claw, and out claw the crystalline bee spurted a diaphanous webbing that engulfed the metallic and more wasp-like metallic foe. They began attempting to sting each other at once, each unable to penetrate the other. This diversion allowed both Edoni and Nasr to quickly descend from the platforms and cylinder, to a relatively safer place below. Nasr had seen two silver cubes connected by a similarly silver rod in the center of the platform, before he fled. There were other things there too, great spheres of precious metals.

With her miniature tiger cradled in one arm, accompanied by the blood soaked and somewhat jittery Jolan, Edith entered a room nearly filled by a vast metallic pyramid. Above this pyramid floated a great disc, right above the point at the top of it. Clattering many-limbed things crept along the walls, covered in many writhing tentacle-like protrusions which buzzed and hummed and whirred.

The ceiling showed a glorious image. Great white streaks and blue fields, and formations of green and brown and beige and many other colors. Like what a bird sees, but much greater. For but a moment this, and then another image: great forest and fields, mountains. It was closer. One could see snow, rocks, and rivers. Then it wa places known and unknown, closer then farther. Sand, then beaches, then cities. Moving along a new landscape almost familiar, then at other moments very still and observant from a height too great to understand what was being seen.

Also on each face of the pyramid was a small platform, like a balcony. The balcony facing Edith was heaped with silver, small cups and pieces of jewelry. Edith ascended the pyramid towards this, it’s face tactile enough to permit easy walking. Upon reaching the platform she then tossed it all into her backpack, a small haul.

As soon as she had done this the many limbed things rushed towards her with alarming speed, each on opposite sides of the pyramid. Edith ran to the top of it then, and narrowly avoid her face being eviscerated by a spinning blade wielded by one attacker as another misstepped and tumbled back down the eastern side. She discharged a pistol shot, but it merely struck the wall. As this happened she was showered with black sparks, and these sank tingling into her skin.

Her face was cut, not too deeply, by the blade. As her blood spilled out the blade drank some in, as if it were a syringe, and in an instant a red staccato pattern of bright lights shivered up the sides of the appendage. Having decoded from trace biological droppings the emotional content of her memories, the robot then emulated one of them to provoke negativity in the intruder. With the emulated voice of the most despised and loathsome slug, the guardian croaked.

Well, we seem to have found ourselves in quite a predicament! One would wish they had chosen to become a sales associate instead of a temple robber, no?”

Edith screamed out in defiance “NO!” at the memory of the disgusting slug, and Jolan screamed too “THE PROCESSOR! WE MUST DESTROY THE PROCESSOR!”
Edith understood, and focused on this goal. She withdrew her firearm and discharged it at the disc above her. As the shot collided with it, causing great cracks along the bottom, there was a sudden and immense noise that was more felt than heard, one that rattled the teeth and agitated the sinuses. A great column of misty whiteness formed above the disc, and this column extended into the ceiling, through the ceiling, and into the perspective of the images upon it until it saturated the image it showed of the world below.

This was a grassland, across which bounded remarkable creatures: furry and four-limbed, standing on two legs. They jumped great distances, like sorts of rabbits. They had on the front them pouches, some of them did, in which there seemed to be smaller, younger ones. One remarkable specimen was seeming to float almost in mid air, as the great white light filled everything around it.

It fell to the ground dead, onto the now sterilized ground. From the sky fell countless birds, and from the trees other mammals that called them home. To the nearby coasts and far into the oceans the lights diameter rolled, erasing the life of both fish and corals. This all floated to the surface and would be carried to shore by the tides.

The entire eastern portion of what would one day be called Australia was now devoid of all animal life.

There was a tremendous and terrible sound, and a noxious odor like melted plastics in the chamber containing the great column. Gerald, standing in the same chamber as the Cadets, was the first to see the what had emerged from the anomaly.

Grey-black and moist they stood upon three legs, both bird and horse like, and had a similar triple-set of limbs. Their musculature resembled both early steam engine and advanced watch mechanics, though both of these were unknown to all observers. They were faceless, though they had mouths and heads. A chirping sound like a roar and a beetle's buzzing wings came from one of these mouths as it pointed its central limb towards Markana, a tube like extrusion which blasted him with a fiery bolt of pale pink haze that caused him to scream in pain as his outer layers of clothing and skin peeled away and began bleeding.

Nasr then aimed  the strange arquebus he had recovered from the dead man, and discharged it at one of the nameless  things. Its body body began burning into green sparks, causing it to gnash its mouth wildly and produce yet more discomforting noise.

Gerald then cast a Quickening spell, doubling the speed of his thoughts and movements. Gerald used this quickness to cast the Holy Hammer, which unweaved the recent flows of time as it filled him with strength. It was now true Nasr had not shot anything with his strange arquebus, and no creature was consumed in green sparks.

Gerald, still quickened, then caused himself to be overcome with a demoniac Bloodlust by means of another spell, and his nails did turn to claws and his teeth to razors. As Gerald was transforming Nasr lobbed one of his explosives at the vile creatures. It exploded magnificently on contact with the ground beneath them, and the blast tore them limb from limb, scattering yellowish blood the texture of milk curd throughout the vicinity and filling the air with a noxious gas. Gerald inhaled this deeply in his frenzied state, and became even more deranged. Edoni ran over to attend to the wounded Markana, but Gerald then tried to slash at him with his claws, so confused was he, and also fueled by magical rage.

Nasr meanwhile heaved another explosive onto the surface of the cylinder, and the keg of black powder exploded with force enough to demolish the so-called central processor, the crystalline bee, and the metallic wasp in one great puff of smoke. Their remnants scattered everywhere as chunks and powder, and the feeling of deep sunburn subsided from everyone's skin. Unseen due to their position, four formless metallic things slithered down the side of the cylinder, now freed from their spheres, while Nasr then climbed atop it using the rope that had been situated previously.

There was a great and terrible sound once again, now familiar as an anomaly, and now there stood 5 of the tripod monstrosities seen previously. These had a somewhat different appearance than the others, and were heavily shelled like both tortoises and cockroaches. Nasr took aim with his strange arquebus from atop the cylinder and began blasting, first wounding one severely by disintegrating an arm then causing another to dissolve into greenish phosphorescence as it stumbled to the ground. Gerald turned his attention to this new foes, and ran at them screaming as the metallic globules closed in as well.

A gold globule stretched up like rising dough and covered the top half of one tripod beast as it stepped into the undulating folds of a copper one that had slid beneath it, and then it dissolved into the two of them with alarming speed, as if it were candyfloss dipped into hot water. Edoni leveled his wand which caused hideous death at the remaining monsters, but its malign energies narrowly missed their intended targets and instead struck the great cylinder.

Edith now slid down the back face of the pyramid, half tumbling, and threw her water skins contents onto the rampaging robot that muttered at her in the voice of the vile Slug. It whipped its limbs at her as she ran about the pyramid.

The now familiar sound of anomaly filled the room where Gerald raged, Edoni pointed his wand, and Nasr shot strange weaponry.

Atop the great cylinder Nasr now found himself beneath the bulk of a vast creature. The size of a great ship, it stood upon four great legs, each like a great oak. Its neck and tail were both remarkably long, and it roared in confusion. Its companion did this two, and they began to lumber about the great platform in a rising panic. A third on the ground below began exploring its surroundings with great lumbering steps and frightened roars, swinging a massive tail wildly as it stomped forward.

Nasr pulled out his flask of ice-producing slime and flung it at the remaining group of tripod monsters and metallic puddles that now assaulted each other in the path of the lumbering giant. A great burst of frost formed and quickly cleared, revealing they were all now frozen to the core. The metallic slimes instantly crumbled, and the great beast intervened on this by crushing one of the tripods to powder underfoot. The remaining one was impaled by Edoni through the face with a spear, and then its body was crushed like the others.

Edith then ran between the great legs of this creature, returning to the room where Talia and Markana lay sick and wounded, now spattered with strange blood. Jolan ran in soon after, fleeing the bladed robots which thankfully remained near the pyramid, at the edge of the doorway.

One the great creatures stumbled from the side of the great cylinder, and so fell and crushed beneath its great bulk the remaining metallic globules and extradimensional tripods. Gerald narrowly dodge being crushed, but knocked to the ground by its’ whipping tail and suffered a significantly broken arm. His rage still burned, and he began tearing into the exposed belly of creature with his good arm and ample fangs.

Nasr leveled his strange arquebus at the two guardians of the pyramid in the room beyond, and annihilated them both with what he soon realized were the final shots of the weapon. He ran towards the pyramid now, avoiding the limbs of the great creature that lay on its side roaring as Gerald kept shredding it.

Nasr now ascended the pyramid, and approached the disc as images of the earth's surface flashed by before him in rapid sequence. He pulled out a simpler weapon, a black powder pistol, and fired a single shot which struck a most critical element of the unknowable circuitry of the thing. Nasr saw only a brief image of many peasants and cattle falling over in rural countryside, near Holland.

The white light that emitted filled the European continent from the northern shores of Prussia to the southernmost parts of the Swiss Confederacy. It went to the west far past all of England and France, and east through most of Austria.

In Amsterdam, London, Paris, Vienna, and countless other towns and cities all humanity crumpled and fell down dead over the span of seconds, the suddenness of their demise preventing any of those victims from realizing they were experiencing the collective death of their entire society. Throughout the countryside all livestock, all peasants, all flying birds and insects and swimming fish no longer lived in an instant. All died in the midst of their most usual routines, unaware and as suddenly as drops of rainwater disappear into a pond.

All of western Europe was empty now, filled with innumerable corpses that would mummify in the sun before the bacterial milieu would become significant enough to cause rot.
The silver disc drifted across the air, and then collided into the wall.

A white light burst out once again, this time the image initially showing a vast wet rice paddy into which all the farmers did fall. Nasr saw the ceiling then go black, but the Southern half of China was now a land of death, as was much of eastern India, and all the island nations to the South that were now unknown to him, and were now never knowable to anyone.

Nasr approached the silver disc as it lay on the ground, and saw that he would be unable to move it by himself.

From inside Gerald the demon Kezgefligrox bellowed with uncontrollable mirth. I HAD NEVER EVEN DARED TO DREAM OF SUCH A GLORIOUS SURPLUS OF EXTERMINATION!

Now standing in the room with Tallius and Markana, Edoni spoke to Tallius as he observed Jolan as he paced across the room covered in his sweat and her blood. Edoni asked Tallia if she felt he might be dangerous in his current state.

Tallius replied between coughs

“He...he cut me, and he drank my blood. He’s been changed. I don’t know what’s wrong with him...He cut me...”
Edoni pondered what this might mean, and realizing it likely meant nothing good he walked up to Jolan and placed one hand on his shoulder. Jolan turned to face him, while with the other hand Edoni sharply jabbed his wand into his side as if it were a dagger.
Jolan made gagging noise as he then attempted to scream. His interior began to erupt outward from the point where the wand had touched him, while that which was furthest from that point was drawn towards it at equal speed. With a shucking sound his skin was sucked into him through all openings as a torn sheet, and his limbs splayed out widely before they folded in on themselves like strips of paper., His muscles were pulled apart like spools of thread and then twisted into a single cord that tightened and curved smaller and smaller as it compressed. The internal contents of his body; the viscera, feces, urine, blood, and other body fluids were compressed into a semisolid gelatinized knot which then dispersed into a fine mist as it exploded outwards from inside him, while his more solid components were now crushed into a tinier sort of pea gravel that scattered across the area like a thrown handful of marbles. In total Jolan was sprayed across the room as a burgundy-brown fog, leaving a vague negative silhouette of Edoni across the wall behind him.
“He won’t do that again” said Edoni.

Tallia, severely feverish and convulsing, hardly comprehended why the room suddenly smelled the way it did.

Nasr began to examine the balcony like shelves on the sides of the pyramid. As he approached one of these chains it began to shift and slither as if it were a living snake. He stepped away from this one, and approached another. This one did not slither, but when he pressed a small button near the end of it it suddenly became rigid, and transformed into a remarkably light rod about 40 feet in length. The final one stuck to his skin with such an extraordinary power it nearly tore his skin when he removed it. He then handled it while wearing gloves, and then prepared himself to sprint past the great lumbering beasts in the other chamber.

As he ran past Gerald, who still frothed with rage, the tail of one beast collided with Nasr and knocked him to the ground. He quickly rose to his feet and ran, realizing to his horror that not only was the adhesive chain now stuck around a portion of his arm, but that another end of it was attached to the tail of the behemoth. He still ran, and held his arm aloft. The whipping motion of the creature's tail then pulled the chain off of him at great speed, and it then whipped around the elongated neck of the beast and began to choke it as it pulled its tail up and back most terribly.

Gerald at this moment, drenched in the blood of a vast lizard, came to his senses. Upon realizing the agonies these creatures were in he decided it would be just to euthanize them. He pulled out the strange tusk he had recovered from the place where Dietrich was torn in half by a crocodile, and jabbed it into the creature laying before him. He than carefully ran past the other, and also jabbed the tusk into it.

The first one began shuddering, its movements slowing as if it were carrying a great burden. The second began to struggle as it was overcoming with a strange lightness, and then it began to drift unstoppably up. For both of them their breathing became labored as they struggled to move even a single foot a single inch in a direction different from the one they were pulled it. Soon they lay as flat as they were able on their respective surfaces, and then their bodies began to compress as if beneath a weight much greater than their own.

The creature that was wrapped with the adhesive chain was pressed into the ceiling with such a great force that its neck was nearly severed as the chain was pressed into it, and then the chain began to be pushed through the great bulk of its tremendous body. All blood was pushed up into the ceiling, eventually forming a great circle.

The other, meanwhile, was gradually being pressed into a sort of pile on the floor, and then a puddle, by a vast and invisible weight in the opposite direction. Its skull began to be crushed under the weight, and the hissing and sputtering of its collapsing body filled the room with a most terrible noise as the floor became covered in a evenly dispersed sludge made of its compressed body.

Gerald then pierced the third creature, and it too floated. It floated up from its edge of the chamber towards the center, and was then levitating between the two seas of meat on floor and ceiling. It rotated there gently for a moment, but then it could be seen that small droplets with shooting outward from its body. From every minute injury on the creature at first a small spurt, and then a vast torrent of blood sprayed directly outwards from the creature, and then tiny flecks of all metallic particles within its body did fly out, and all its blood began to coat the walls as far from the center of the mass of the creature as was possible. It’s carcass curled into a sphere like shape after it was exsanguinated, 30 tons of dead flesh set between 60 more.

Moments after Nasr, Gerald, Edith, and Edoni had reconvened in the room where Jolan was disincorporated yet another anomaly engulfed them.

Before them then stood what appeared to life-size simulacra of each of them, all flawless with mask-like faces and bodies like the finest dolls with lines across the necks and wrists and elbows. The clothing they wore was like their own, but made even and clean and flawless. The made soft whirring sounds as they moved, and they had no fingernails.



The voice was monotonic, stilted, and androgynous. They said they were not operators. They asked them why they looked the way they did, and the one that answered rotated its neck like an owl to speak.


They said they were not, but were also interested in “dismantling” this facility and had already dismantled several “units” on their own. They noticed that these mask-faced dolls also seemed to possess items which were superior versions of their own. Gerald saw that one had a superior version of a healing salve he had been carrying, and grabbed it from the thing and began to smear it on his broken arm.


The soft paste suddenly became a terribly hard metal, sealing his arm to his torso. The doll-people were still friendly, and followed the Adventurers as they exited the room.


In the room with the red and blue orbs Nasr placed his final explosive as the whirring doll-things observed silently. The resulting explosion tore apart the silver sphere which floated in the center of the chamber, and the great orbs vanished in that same instant. The smoke slowly cleared, and after a moment of whirring the doll-things spoke.


As they all entered the chamber with the smoky sphere that could transport them to the lands of Vilnid, the adventurers asked the doll-people to please not dismantle this chamber immediately, and to also warn them before they did such a thing. They considered this for a moment, and then replied.