17 July 2015

Earthdawn: Adventure Log 35 - Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

This is the thirty-fifth Adventure Log in an ongoing series about Earthdawn. Introduction and Index.

The Badlands are, as the Name suggests, a terrible place to visit. A blasted and desolate plain whose very pattern resists all attempts at healing. Easy to describe as lifeless, but my preferences run towards sparsely populating it with twisted versions of Barsaivian wildlife which has either been lovingly crafted by Horrors during the Scourge or adapted to the place - aided by the pattern itself.

It is a place of forgotten kaers because of the terrible destruction wrought there. Given the inhospitable nature, this is a good location to send adepts looking for people, places, things which have been lost. Not many others frequent the Badlands if they can avoid it. This also makes it the perfect location to hide things which you don't want anyone else to find.

Adventure Log – 035 Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Written By: Bongani Kreskas

Date:  20 Sollus - 21 Sollus, 1508 TH
Group Name: Mismatched Steel

Group Members
Bongani the Scout
Coriolis the Swordmaster
Elmod the Nethermancer

Honeysuckle Sunspray the Warrior
Ting the Swordmaster

It is hot in the Badlands. The landscape is lifeless and endless, but we must continue on. We camp for a while, preparing threads for the coming battle. We venture northwest, following the Horror's invitation. After hours of traveling, we leave even the pathetic scrub behind. We find a camp much like the others. Many severed heads are formed into a pyramid.

I determine the Horror killed these six men in under a minute. Clearly we are dealing with a dangerous creature. We continue on our way - there is nothing more we can do for these men. Elmod experiences the final moments of the poor souls as they are torn to pieces by the gestalt Horror. I find the tracks, like a thousand turtles moving in a herd(1)

A large black rock looms in the distance. I leave the party for a time to check the feature, fearing if might be our quarry. Elmod comes with me, in case something unexpected happens. The obelisk is a void in the sky, giving off no heat or light(2). Elmod turns into a creature of the night and scouts the object.

I find out later at the camp, a strange many-jointed creature with large ears and an exposed brain approaches. It has shark-like teeth and a rather friendly disposition. It speaks as well! What a charming fellow. His "mother" has an interest in our safety. He starts to following Ting around the camp, much to her displeasure.

Coriolis helpfully Names him "Wendel", much to the little fellow's excitement.

We return to camp and meet Wendel. Elmod believes it to be a Horror construct of some sort(3). "Wendel feels hungry for FEAR and PAIN." We are not sure what to do with the little fellow, so we set our watch and wait for dawn. During Honeysuckle's watch, Wendel moved over to Ting, but didn't harm her in any way that we see. Ting spoke with Wendel and found that "Father" creates things from hard things. He hates flesh, preferring other things. Mother and Father are trying to discover what life is. Mother has a Name, but she has killed all who knew it. Father's Name is "Robber of Twenty Candles"(4). Mother is angry at Father for stealing her favorite child(5).

Wendel is ever more horrifying in daylight. He tells us it used to be a liferock(6). He sticks to Ting and leads us to the stone. The stone separates, revealing a hallway marked with glowing runes. Elmod identifies the runes as being magical, but far beyond his ability to understand. Wendel leaves us as we continue on. The runes provide plenty of light, but still we are uneasy.

This terrible maze makes no sense! We eventually must follow the maddening droning until we notice the runes turn into circles, then spirals. Elmod turns his hand before the runes, revealing a door. Within we find a laboratory of some sort. There are benches, equipment, well-labeled jars. Elmod identifies the equipment as alchemical gear. The laboratory has been abandoned for at least six months.

We return to the hallways and find more spirals which leads to other rooms. Some are the floors and ceilings. We discover research laboratories, laboratories, and many more rooms, but they are all cleared out - abandoned(7).

Why would he lure us here if there is nothing. The sounds begin to make sense. "Follow the sound of my voice and I will give you answers." We follow. We are not hungry, not tired... How long have we been here?

We come to an audience chamber, well lit by quartz. There is a podium at the end of the room with a small figure performing some sort of operation. Lightning arcs to the creature on the table, bringing it to attention and he responds with a beautiful, haunting melody of his own.

He is bald, wearing a white coat. Tall and thin, I take him for an elf at first. He claims he saw us when he was born. He has no Name, and is not a Namegiver. We ask him to come down and speak with us, and we see that his flesh is marble, like a strange obsidiman. Father told him to come here and clear out the dwarfs(8). He has been here ever since. He claims the dwarfs of Throal used to conduct experiments. He claims to be a liferock, a very living, corrupting thing. He is pleasant and polite, but the reality of his existence cannot be ignored.

He found the obsidimen who lived here, and changed them into other forms. The gestalt Horrors are their new form. There is nothing else to say, so we fight. The fight is a swirling maelstrom of madness. We leap from wall to wall, flying and falling as we battle the Nameless Horror. His obsidiman construct strikes out, following us. I lead him to his doom. The Nameless construct tries to flee, using a magic field of magic to cover his escape, but we give chase.

Floating in mid-air, Ting grapples with the construct, and renders it to its ragged components with a flurry of slashing blows.(9)

*     *     *
(1) The adorableness of this description is a juxtaposition with how horrible the rest of it is.
(2) This is very strange.
(3) Of course they befriended and Named a Horror construct.
(4) This is very bad. From the stories, those "Twenty Candles" are for the twenty kaers this Horror was responsible for snuffing out during the Scourge. Of course, it didn't stop at twenty.
(5) I think this may be our first solid lead regarding what is going on with this group. This entry needs to be "lost" and moved to the Eye.
(6) And it gets even worse.
(7) This is incredibly elaborate to just abandon. Also, who even has the resources to create something like this? Only Iopos, Thera, and Throal are likely. Maybe a dragon?
(8) Now this sounds like a Throalic black project. Someone not involved with this department needs to know about this.
(9) Received and edited by Ela Pono

This could be considered the climax of the arc, but there is still quite a bit going on with some of the reveals in this story. The biggest, which wasn't much of a pressing concern at the time of this entry, is the nature of the obelisk in the Badlands.

In all, the pacing of this session was good and the climactic fight scene was a lot of fun. Characters with Great Leap got to do a lot of cinematic repositioning as they learned to take advantage of the variable gravity in the amphitheater. It was very dynamic and fluid, though not easy by any stretch. At the end, the adepts were victorious, but they worked hard for the win.

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