5th July 2020
It's Sunday lunchtime and I'm not sitting in front of my laptop. Today the weather is fine and instead Vicky has kindly invited us round to continue Matt's 50 Fathoms campaign in her garden, which is big enough to allow us to practice social distancing.
So out with the picnic blankets to meet the up with players for the first time in around 15 weeks!
Our attempt to sneak into L'Ollonaise's bedroom had failed. He had woken up and was raising the alarm.
As L'Ollonaise got out of bed, Baxter tried to trip him by grabbing his legs from under his bed. But L'Ollonaise was too quick for that. He jumped back on the bed and rolled off the other side, coming to his feet smoothly and holding a sword. "Show yourselves." he demanded.
Baxter flipped the bed as he stood, ready for a fight.
Downstairs, Shia and Rackham rushed upstairs, whilst I ensured that the front door was locked. We could do without having to deal with extra reinforcements.
As Baxter and L'Ollonaise were squaring off, Shia and Rackham burst in. Rackham hit L'Ollonaise with spell, but he shrugged it off, then Rackham slashed at L'Ollonaise's sword arm: It was a solid blow that bit deep, forcing the pirate to drop his sword.
Baxter immediately scooped up the sword, it was incredibly light and Baxter could see it was of exceptional quality. We had the sword!
Baxter lunged for the window. He barged through the shutters and the window frame, shattering both and tumbled out of the bedroom window. As luck would have it, his fall was broken by a particularly verdant bush and he suffered the mildest of bruising.
Shia followed suit and leapt outside.
At this was going on I ran into the room, locked the door and heaved a wardrobe across it. We could hear voices and stirring in the other bedrooms.
The fighting between L'Ollonaise and Rackham continued.
Outside, Shia and Baxter encountered some pirates. Shia quickly explained to them that someone was attacking L'Ollonaise and they should go inside and provide assistance.
It was a convincing lie, they were easily fooled and set off round to the front door.
Meanwhile, upstairs I shot L'Ollonaise and hacked at him with my sword. He was one tough customer and this finally dropped him, but even so he was still breathing.
Rackham had sensed magic on L'Ollonaise and was desperate to search him, but there was no time - pirates were now beating on the door and shouting.
Rackham's solution was to throw L'Ollonaise out of the window. This was not good for the unconscious L'Ollonaise, who landed on his neck with a loud crack!
Rackham and I jumped out and Win used her gliding ability to slip into the night sky. Then Rackham checked on L'Ollonaise, he was now indeed dead.
With Win guiding us from her aerial vantage point, we hastily entered the cover of the forest before making for our ships with Rackham dragging L'Ollonaise's corpse behind us.
We were halfway back when we encountered the freed prisoners, Alain was still among their numbers.
Alain asked how we had fared. We replied that we had been successful and brandished the sword.
Alain said. "That's not my sword.".
There was a long moment of stony silence. A very long moment.
We asked Alain what was going on? Alain explained that in truth, L'Ollonaise had taken The Sword of Amemnus. But he had not kept it, instead Alain heard that L'Ollonaise had gifted the sword to someone else.
My mind when back to L'Ollonaise's log book. He had mentioned giving a gift to Edward Drummond, captain of 'The Destroyer'. That gift must have been the Sword of Amemnus.
We asked Alain why he had withheld this information from us. He shrugged and said that he had wanted us to 'deal' with L'Ollonaise and this was a way of doing it
There was only one way I could possibly think of to describe Alain Memnus at this time - and it rhymed with 'Ducking stunt!'.
Once we returned to safety, we searched the remains of L'Ollonaise. We found various 'magical' items, a book and even what appeared to be a treasure map!
But that damned sword still eluded us.
We now had to find Edward Drummond, who was known by a pair of more famous names; 'Edward Teach' or 'Blackbeard'.
4th July 2020
Sitting in my living room on a Saturday evening and logged into Skype on my laptop can only mean one thing.
Time for Matakishi's Wasted Hack campaign.
After leaving the chud infested underground complex, we had returned to Home and spent some time resting in their lofty settlement amongst ruined buildings of the ancient city.
After leaving the complex, we had decided to return and explore the vertical with the music.
Before setting out from Home, we stocked up on ladders, rope, pitons, block and tackle etc. Fortunately, the people here had all the equipment we required in abundance, since climbing was part of life for them.
The return journey was unremarkable. Soon we found ourselves in the circular room strewn with all the chud corpses. Bradley switched to 'domestic' mode and began sweeping away all of the blood, gore and corpses!
We used the ladder we had acquired from Home to reach the bottom of the vertical shaft. Unfortunately, upon closer inspection we discovered the shaft was constructed of steel. Our pitons and climbing gear would mostly be useless here.
Max stared up and could just about make out a grill of some sort that covered the entirety of the shaft. The grill was about twenty metres up into the shaft.
Max took a grappling hook and rope and with a mighty throw he sent the grappling hook flying up the shaft. Since it did not come plummeting back down, it must have caught on the grill.
Max yanked on the rope a couple of times, still the grappling hook did not fall, so he began climbing.
The climb was easy, although when Max reached the grip he saw that the grappling hook was mere millimetres from coming loose! After securing the rope, Max looked around.
Beyond the grill the vertical shaft continued up, but narrowed considerably as it did so. In the shaft's wall was a door with a wheel lock.
Max spun it open. The hatch led to another vertical shaft. The rest of us climbed up after Max. Unfortunately neither of the robots could climb up. The grappling hook would not bear their weight.
We left Bradley cleaning and the warhound in 'guard' mode as we entered the next chamber.
The hatch had opened on to a metal platform that was attached to the wall in the lower part of a shaft and a set of metal steps zig-zagged their way to the top of the shaft. In the ceiling was a hatch with another wheel lock.
Opening this lock proved harder and required some effort. As we spun the wheel, we could 'feel' something hindering the other side of the wheel lock.
Eventually the hatch was opened and we could climb up. The chamber we had entered was large and about one third of it was filled with piled up crates. In fact it was one of these crates that had been laying on the hatch, making it so hard to open.
This chamber also contained a 'exo-suit' that was configured for loading work. We examined the exo-suit and found it had no power and required charging. Looking round further, we discovered a light switch and flicked it on. The lights hummed and flickered into life. It was a good sign, there was power here.
Going back to a crate, there was a short spray of air as we broke its airtight seal. Inside were packets of freeze-dried and vacuum sealed food. Once this chamber would have been filled with crates and we wondered how long someone had been living here?
Finally there was a large door out of here, large enough to allow the exo-suit to pass through it. The food crates were quite heavy and most likely the suit was used to move them onward.
Passing through the large doors took us into tall chamber.
To one side was a vertical tube that ran up the wall from the ground and into an area above. At the bottom was a door. We investigated and the door opened into an small elevator car. The tube was a small service elevator, too small for a person, but around the right size for one of those food crates.
There was a ladder that went upwards along another wall.
Finally, there were two humanoid figures, they looked quite bulky and strangely featureless. Their heads were smooth and faceless, their hands had no fingers and looked akin to mittens. Perhaps they were some sort of environmental suits?
The music was louder here.
As we entered the room, the two figures stirred. Their heads began to change shape! They each gained a pair of glowing eyes. Their hands reconfigured themselves into hammers.
Our intent was to see if we could communicate with them, but before we could speak, they began to howl. The noise was immense, it reverberated around the room and was agonising. We could feel actual waves of sound pummelling our bodies and causing actual harm! They advanced on us.
We counter attacked. After laying into the automatons, their bodies began to reconfigure and reshape themselves to repair the damage they had suffered.
There was only one thing for it. Our attacks had to be concentrated on one automaton at a time, we had to inflict damage quicker than it could be repaired.
It worked! We managed to overwhelm and destroy first one and then the other automaton.
All that was left of them was a couple of piles of some sort of inert metallic material?
From here, there was only one way onward, up the ladder.
We emerged into another circular room half in light and half in dark. The music was loudest here.
In the 'light' half of the room was a row of windows that gave us a panoramic view of the sunlit landscape outside.
Tall chalky cliffs stretching along a coastline and ending in a headland filled one side of this view. It was a view of a landscape that was familiar to us, one that we had crossed several times to get out to the stacks.
On the other side of the view we could distinctly see the 'Boat Raider Islands' out to sea. We could even see some boat raider activity, our vantage point was quite high. It was then that we established that we were inside one of the stacks, about halfway up by our estimations.
But how was it that we were able to look out? We had not seen windows on any of the stacks previously?
The 'dark' half of the room was artificially lit and contained numerous pieces of furniture. An automated beverage dispenser, a table and chairs, cutlery, crockery and so on.
We saw buttons and panels and items covered in writing that we did not recognise, from the world before no doubt.
The table also contained the source of the music: A square box of sorts, adorned with various buttons, sitting on the top of the box was a thin black disc that span endlessly. Additionally, there appeared to be pile of black discs stored in card folders on the table. The same indecipherable writing appeared on the card folders, along with strange illustrations.
It was unrecognisable to us. Again; a technology from the world before no doubt.
Searching the room revealed nothing else of interest here. There was only one other way out of the room, a staircase that rose up through the ceiling.
Moving towards the stairs triggered some sort of trap.
A panel rapidly slid across the ceiling with a hiss, closing off the stairs. The windows went black and the lights winked out.
A speaker crackled to life and a harsh voice spat out. "Intruders are not welcome in the Capricorn house.". Curiously, the voice spoke a language we understood.
With that, gas began to spill out of the air vents.
There was no time to lose! We donned the respirators we had acquired from the laboratory previously. We now had some breathing space. The gas was lighter than air and was filling the room from the ceiling downwards.
Further inspection revealed small cameras spying on us. There was somebody close by! Unfortunately, it did not reveal anything helpful.
There seemed no way to stop the gas and our respirators would not last forever. Nor did there seem any way to continue. We were stymied and our only option would be to retreat back down the ladder.
Then we noticed the service elevator shaft, it continued upwards and went into another room above.
Max pulled the panel open. The elevator car was still below us and elevator cables ran the length of the shaft. Whilst it was small, the shaft would allow someone to climb the elevator cables.
Max worked his way up to the next panel, forced it open in a crawled into what on first glance appeared to be a kitchen.
Max then realised he was being watched. He stared at a robot that was staring back at him. It was quite small with a rotund body, thin flexible arms, stalks for legs and wheels for feet. On it hung a sign that read 'Glad 2 srv U'. "May I help you?". It inquired with it's raspy modulated voice.
Max quickly tied off a rope, allowing us to follow.
With the panel shut, the gas was sealed away, we turned to the robot and asked the robot where we were?
"In the kitchen of course.", came the reply.
The robot was some sort of waiter/chef, it then decided to serve us sherry and vol-au-vents.
Next we asked the robot who else was here? It replied that it served 'Joe Capricorn, renaissance man of the future!.
Joe Capricorn, renaissance man of the future..?
Anyway! During our conversation with Glad 2 srv U we noticed a small orange box under one of its arms. The had something written on it. "Joe Capricorn's obedience box.".
We discussed removing the box, I was concerned that if we removed it, the robot might become homicidal and try to kill us all. In the end however, it was agreed to remove the box.
It didn't much effort for me to disconnect the box.
"That's a relief." Said Glad 2 srv U and then "I'm going to kill Mr Capricorn!" as it reached for the powered carving-knife before scooting out of the room.
We followed and entered another room just behind Glad 2 srv U. The room was dominated by a large, well polished dining table and set of chairs, the room was also decorated strange vases, heavy glass ashtrays and lava lamps.
At the far end of the table was an old man. He was bald and had a robotic eye. He wore a double breasted lab coat and was also wearing roller skates.
He welcomed us, introducing himelf as Joe Capricorn and invited us to sit down at the table.
Max took the invitation and sat down, but seeing the control panel by Joe's chair made me hesitant and suspicious. What did those buttons do? Agent Pip and and Aoxo agreed with me and we stayed standing
I noticed that many of the weird items in this room had more of the ancient language written on them. I asked Joe about the language. He said the language came from 'The Ukraine' a place 'created by giant birds'!
Then Joe told Glad 2 srv U to serve dinner.
"Shall I carve?" Asked Glad 2 srv U.
"Of course." Replied Joe.
Brandishing the electric carving-knife, Glad 2 srv U charged us shouting. "ALL FLESH MUST BE EATEN!".
There was a loud bang and Glad 2 srv U's rotund robotic head exploded into a shower of shattered circuitry.
We turned to see Joe holstering his pistol away and sitting down. "Well, that's that." He said.
"Perhaps we should move on to cognac and cigars?". Joe asked.
We weren't interested in his quite frankly be called 'suspect hospitality'. In response, Joe Capricorn jabbed a button on his console!
Suddenly, the room began to tremble and then shake uncontrollability. We all felt our weight quadruple! Since Max was sitting down, he was merely pinned to his chair, the rest of us weren't so lucky. We were practically crushed under own weight and we collapsed to the floor. It was hard enough to breathe, moving might be impossible.
OK, perhaps it wasn't exactly as I called it!
Joe Capricorn pressed another button on his control panel. A hole opened in the ceiling and a transparent tube descended over Joe. When it reached the floor, Joe was 'sucked' up, the tube receded and the hole closed.
The weight holding us down was incredible and strong enough to hurt us. Even so, Max managed to crawl over to Joe's chair and sit in it. He started pressing buttons on the control panel until he too was sucked up the tube.
Max found himself in another room, sitting on some sort of sofa. Across the room was Joe and four robots of the type we encountered earlier.
There was a control console in front of Max, he tried randomly stabbing at all the buttons, but nothing happened.
Joe laughed. "I've disconnected that console." He said.
Max looked around, through a window he saw clouds which were moving past at a tremendous speed and the sky looked strange. Soon the blue of day melted into the inky blackness of night and Max's view was dominated by a night sky full of twinkling stars. Except for one star, a star which was a instead a distinct bright spot in the sky.
Thirty minutes or so passed, then everything stopped shaking and the strangest event occurred. We had been pinned down by some great weight upon us, but now all weight had inexplicably disappeared, even our own. We began floating and spinning across room, as did anything not clamped down.
It was not a pleasant experience, some of party vomited and that too floated through the air in a peculiar bubble shape!
From the other room, Max watched the sky rotate dizzyingly until the bright spot was centred in the window. Then the white spot began to grow in size. The dot gleamed brilliantly and expanded until he could see that it was actually a ring. It continued expanding until it was so massive as to completely fill his view.
Max realised that we had left the stack and the coastline far behind, somehow we had entered a vessel that had now travelled a great distance and our destination was this structure.
Once again the speakers activated and Joe Capricorn said. "Welcome to my odyssey.".
There was a distinct thud and a jolt as the vessel connected with the ring.
28th June 2020
Sunday lunch time in my living room and logged into Google Meetings on my laptop.
This means it's time for Matt's 50 Fathoms campaign.
Unfortunately, due to circumstances out of our control, the session was cut short.
We had rescued Alain Amemnus and the other prisoners from L'Ollonaise and his pirates. The sword was still missing though and we had good reason to believe that it was in the possession of L'Ollonaise himself.
Baxter and I left the makeshift prison and returned to our companions. Staying just out of the perimeter of Tulago, we circled round to the north and close to the 'manor house'. No doubt L'Ollonaise was here.
Quietly approaching, we saw that unlike the other buildings, the windows here were not broken and boarded up.
The windows consisted of many small glass panels and shutters. Luckily for us, Baxter was quite practised at breaking and entry. Pulling out a knife, he easily worked a pane of glass free and put in arm to open a window.
After quietly climbing through the window, we found ourselves in some sort of extensive private library. The room was of course empty and unlit, as would be expected for this time of night. As we moved towards the door, a sliver of light catches our attention.
Our eyes were drawn to a desk and the book on it that had a peculiar shine. It definitely wasn't reflecting moonlight, this was something else?
A closer inspection revealed that it was glowing, or at least the metal foil on the cover was. There was no discernible source for the glow. Magic?
It turned that the book was L'Ollonaise's logbook. Instinctively I flicked through to L'Ollonaise's last entry, three weeks ago.
The logbook referred to Edward Drummond. L'Ollonaise had encountered Drummond's ship, 'The Destroyer'. L'Ollonaise was familiar with The Destroyer, so he sent some men with over with a gift for Drummond. There were sounds of gunfire and screaming came from the The Destroyer before it changed heading and left Toluga.
Whilst I was reading L'Ollonaise's log, Win and Baxter had left the room, looking for the Sword of Amemnus. As they moved about, they could hear noises from upstairs, the creaking of a bed perhaps or some other typical 'night time' noise.
Their search of the ground floor revealed nothing of use. As quietly as possible, they climbed the stairs. On the landing, there were four doors. L'Ollonaise would be in one of these rooms, along with the sword.
They approached one door and listened. There was snoring on the other side. They tried sneaking in, but as they opened the door, L'Ollonaise abrubtly sat up.
Baxter dived under the bed and Win hid behind some drapes next to a window.
I heard a voice from somewhere upstairs shouted. "Intruder!". The alarm was raised.
Downstairs, I had heard the shouting and positioned myself 'behind' the door. Hopefully, when someone entered, they would be distracted by the open window and would not spot me.
27th June 2020.
Saturday evening is here and I'm logged into Skype on my laptop, sitting in my living room and ready to play in Matakishi's Wasted Hack campaign.
Our intention was to go back to the underground complex and continuing exploring.
We stocked up on flash lights, flares, ammo, grenades and more flash lights.
Derek reconfigured to transportation mode and drove us to the headland.
Leaving the Warhound and Bradley at the top of the cliffs, we proceeded down the vertical air shaft and descended into the complex.
Once again, we went into the north pipe and into the circular room. As we were brandishing more light, the humanoids could not surround us and retreated out of the other exit from the room.
Now that there was no immediate threat, we had the opportunity to examine this chamber. As well as the other exit, there was a vertical shaft in the centre of the ceiling and much like shaft that we used to enter the complex. We could faintly hear music drifting from the shaft?
The ceiling in this chamber was about 10 metres up and infuriatingly, we had no way to reach the shaft.
There was only one way to go and that was through the other exit. This passageway led us to another chamber. As we entered, our light drove the humanoids away.
There was nothing in this chamber but multiple exits. Some could only be crawled down, many were too small for even that and one exit alone could be walked down.
None of us fancied encountering any of the humanoids whilst crawling, so there was really only one choice.
Walking along the tunnel, it went through a couple of corners before branching off into more multiple routes. There was no obvious way, but after some examination we found tracks that only went one way.
We followed this 'main' route and eventually it ended in a manmade wall, however a portion of the wall had been pushed in, granting us access to the room beyond.
This room contained two upturned empty oil barrels, next them were some sticks. No doubt they served as makeshift drums. Despite Max's eagerness, we did not beat these drums.
There were two ways out of this room, a way down and a way up.
It was clearly visible that a layer of a substance similar to grease was coating the path along the downward route.
So we decided to take the upward route.
The tunnel was long, parts of it had appeared to collapse and we were forced to clamber over several obstacles. The tunnel rose for some thirty to forty metres and ran for several kilometres before it ended in the blazing golden glow of what could only be sunlight.
Upon reaching the tunnel's end, it opened up into a wide blue sky and a lush jungle vista. The tunnel had bought us back to the mainland.
Leaving the tunnel behind, we noted a large concentration of humanoid tracks here. Clearly they made frequent use of this tunnel. They despised the light and would only make use of the tunnel at night. It was just before midday, so we had eight or so hours of daylight left.
Continuing on out into the jungle, we saw the barest remains of buildings from the world before. Their height could be measured in centimetres and they were mostly covered in verdant foliage.
The further we went, the more frequent the ruins became. Not only that, the bigger and taller they became.
Amongst these taller buildings we encountered patches of freshly cultivated land and planted crops. There must be people living here? But we had seen none of them?
Then, we caught a whiff of smoke and fire on the breeze, a campfire perhaps?
Zoning in on the origin of the smell, we did indeed find a campfire amongst the tallest buildings. It had been hastily extinguished, embers still glowed and small flames still licked the fireplace.
Whoever they were, they were close and had to be watching us.
Seeing no harm in trying: We shouted out. "Hello. We come in peace.".
There was a long pause before the reply came. "Who are you? Why are you here?".
We explained that we came from Haven, a nearby settlement and that we were exploring the underground complex and looking to deal with the threat from the strange humanoids that appeared to inhabit it.
Someone appeared from a building. Dressed in a rudimentary loincloth and vest, he was armed with a spear and a bow. When he spoke, his voice seemed less guarded and he introduced himself as 'Zac Doolittle'. Zac explained that Doolittle was a word from the world before and meant 'talks with animals'.
Agent Pip was sceptical of this; so Zac gave a whistle and a giant alsatian, far larger than any we had ever seen before. Zac said, "Hello." to the dog who replied, "Hello!".
"This is Don." Said Zac, pointing at the alsatian! Don chose not to talk to us.
Once Zac realised that we posed no threat, he invited us to meet the leaders of the settlement.
We agreed and were taken up the tallest buildings, this was where they had made their homes. There were walkways the crisscrossed the gaps between different buildings, allowing the entire settlement to reside up here.
We conversed at length with the leaders and discovered that they were frequently raided by the humanoids who came and tried to kidnap people to eat.
The leaders called the humanoids C.H.U.D.s. Apparently Chuds were known to people from the world before and the name meant Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller.
The leaders would help us defeat the chuds in any way they could, but would not enter the underground complex.
They were also keen to open a trade route between Haven and their own settlement 'Home'. They hoped to trade their exotic plants and medicines for Haven's technology and knowledge, but they had always been hesitant to approach Haven, fearful of being attacked. We agreed to help and accompany them to Haven and grant them entry.
They introduced us to Zirra Camay. Both Zac and Zirra would journey with us to Haven. Zirra was carrying many samples of their medicines.
Our plan was simple:
Return to Haven.
Retrieve our robots.
Return to Home
Deal with the chuds.
What could go wrong?
By the time our dialog with the leaders had drawn to it's conclusion, it was mid afternoon and we shared a meal with them. Unusually, we noticed that they were vegetarian.
We left for Haven immediately after the meal.
Zac and Zirra were our guides. The flora and foliage in the dense jungle was thick and obfuscating and the paths that Zac and Zirra led us down were winding and twisting. But it was clear that they had a knowledge of the region and these paths that we could not hope to match.
We travelled along these paths for three hours until both Zac and Zirra abruptly halted.
Ahead there was a clearing of sorts, neither of them had expected to find a clearing here and they were instantly suspicious.
We carefully approached the clearing and realised it was not a clearing. It was more like some sort of road that ran perpendicular to our course?
The 'road' was straight as an arrow. A closer examination revealed some interesting facts. The road was a result of something extracting all of the vegetation, everything from trees to blades of grass and been removed. What remained was exposed earth.
In the earth we saw tracks, a large number of tracks running in parallel along the earth in a straight line, creating the road
It reminded us of something we had witnessed before; the zig-zagging tracks we had seen on the headland cliffs at the coast. This made sense, the road that stretched to the right would head in the direction of the coastline.
Whilst we reflecting on this information, Don began to growl, he was sensing something coming from right side.
Pulling back from the road, we hid in some greenery and waited.
We did not have to wait long for an extraordinary sight to come travelling the road. It was a giant ant, so giant in fact that it was larger than Derek's minivan, probably faster too!
It was carrying some vegetation and went past us without stopping.
Now we knew what was creating these strange tracks, we speculated where the giant ant was going to and didn't like the answer that we speculated.
Despite this discovery, the plan had not changed. We still needed to reach Haven.
We crossed the track and continued on. An hour later, Don began growling again. This was trouble!
Searching around we realised that a giant ant was tracking us somehow? It was not approaching us directly, it was following the same winding route that Zac and Zirra had taken us. It must be following us by scent!
It was unlikely that we could outrun it, so we prepared for the worst.
Agent Pip and I hid in the foliage, whilst Max, Aoxo and the others climbed trees. When the giant ant appeared, it made straight for Agent Pip!
Yelling loudly, Max leapt out of a tree and landed on it. He proceeded to blast it with his shotgun. The battle was joined and the giant ant secreted some of chemical that burned our skin and eyes.
We fought on and soon the giant ant was defeated.
This was not the end of things however. There was the sound of something crashing through the foliage. From his vantage point up a tree Aoxo could see not one, but two giant ants heading for us, one from either side. But something was different. Instead of following a scent or path, they were heading straight for us, trampling through anything in their way.
We moved off and hid. The two giant ants arrived and began circling around and examining the dead ant. They appeared to pay no attention to us.
Quietly we moved off, keeping an eye behind us to ensure we weren't being followed. We most certainly did not want to lead them back to Haven.
It wasn't behind us that we should have been watching...
Zac and Zirra informed us that we had left their territory behind and this was unknown land to them. Our progress suffered as a result.
Continuing, we heard a whirling, whizzing noise from above us? Looking up, I saw something falling towards me. I didn't have to consider anything, only time to dodge to one side. Two strangely dressed individuals crashed into the ground, clearly unconscious or dead from the fall!
Max also managed to dodge falling people, Agent Pip was not so lucky and Aoxo was particularly unlucky as one lands on Agent Pip and three of them landed Aoxo, crushing him to the ground in a heap. The attackers took no time to start trying take bites out of Agent Pip and Aoxo.
"Zipline cannibals!" Zac yelled, pointing at the zipline, a moment too late.
The battle was short, but brutal. We targeted the leader and once he went down, the remainder ran for the zipline and fled.
We continued and marched through the night. After some time the forest began to thin out and soon after that we crested a hill to catch sight of Haven in the reddening dawn light.
It was not until the afternoon that we woke from our sleep, recovering somewhat from our injuries.
Zirra began her trade negotiations with Haven's leader, whilst we went with Derek to retrieve our robots. It was late in the day when we returned.
The next morning we were ready to depart.
During the previous evening, we had discussed matters with Haven's leaders and came to an agreement: Zirra would remain here and conclude her negotiations. The rest of us would investigate the situation with these giant ants. Zac was happy to accompany us as this issue would also affect Home. As a parting gift, Zirra gave some of her more potent medicine kits to Jasper.
So it was that we departed in the morning for the ant road. After we found it, we turned inland and followed the road in parallel. The forest was thick here and the going hard. It took a couple of days to travel thirty or so kilometres. We were untroubled by giant ants during this time.
During the second day we came to the source of the giant ants and it was not good. We had reached vantage point that gave a view of the area ahead.
There was an anthill of massive proportions, so large was the nest, that it had 'consumed' most of a nearby large building. We could only imagine how far underground the nest went.
Observing the nest, we saw that the part of the building that was still visible contained two nuclear cooling stacks rising above the nest. The realisation came that this was once a nuclear power plant.
It was the cause of the giant ants and was probably still pumping out radiation even now.
Continuing our observations, we saw multiple roads leading out of the anthill in multiple directions. We even observed some giant ants travelling along the road we had followed towards the nest. They were carrying the dismembered remains of crab creatures. The ants had reached out into the coast.
In the long term, this ant nest represented a most serious threat to Haven and Home. We considered issues for a time and there was no strategy we could think of that would allow us to deal with this threat at this time. There was nothing else for it, but to leave it alone for now and address the chud threat.
Turning back and after carefully crossing over the ant road we headed for Home. Our journey was without mishap; from there we returned to the tunnel entrance into the underground complex, now with Bradley and the warhound in tow.
We found ourselves back in the room with the makeshift drums and the 'greased' way down.
I was highly suspicious of that passageway and felt that going down it was a 'one way trip'
Max however, was determined to explore it. He took a rope and anchored it to the warhound and got it to lower him down the greased passageway.
It descended for about twenty metres before ending at a flooded cavern of some sort. The gap between the water level and the ceiling was about two metres, it was impossible to tell how much further down the cave went and how deep the impenetrable pool was.
Max lobbed a flare into the water, hoping to get better view. As the flare sunk, Max caught sight of something briefly moving in front of the flare, a silhouette of some sort swimming rapidly through the water. In that moment it was hard to gauge, but the silhouette seemed massive in size.
A second later, several monstrous reptilian heads rose clear of the water, one of them turned to glare at Max!
Just as Max ordered the warhound to pull him up, the head lunged at him. It struck him solidly and bit at the rope holding him. Luckily for Max, the rope did not break and he was hauled up and out of the monster's range.
After getting back to his feet, Max threw a grenade down the tunnel. We heard an explosion ring throughout the cave followed by a weird howl. Max then rolled the makeshift drums down the tunnel for good measure.
We suspected that the chuds came here either to feed the thing or to provide it with a sacrifice and those drums were part of the ritual. Well, Max never got the opportunity to play those drums and now, neither would they.
Leaving this cave behind, we returned to the circular room with the musical vertical shaft. We discussed how to deal with the chuds.
Fighting them would be a long, drawn out affair. They would avoid our light at every opportunity and fighting them without light would leave us at too much of a disadvantage. So we came up with a plan.
We knew that the chud would try and sneak up on us from any direction in which we did not shine any light.
So we exited the circular room, not shining any light behind us, hoping to draw them in. At the same time we threw four grenades into the room behind us and ducked!
The explosion in the pipes was unimaginably loud. Once the dust had settled, we entered the room. It was a horrific sight, the tactic had been murderously effective: Chud bodies were mangled and scattered throughout the room, blood and gore was splattered even across the walls. There were a few barely left alive and grimly we dispatched them.
After this we decided to return to Haven, rest and restock ourselves. We were done for the day.
20th June 2020
Saturday night in the living room, logging on to Skype on the laptop means that it is time for the latest chapter of Matakishi's Wasted Hack RPG.
Since our safe return from the laboratory complex, we had been resting and recuperating from the experience. It was not long however, before we were summoned before the settlement leaders once again.
They thanked us for our efforts: The facility's power source was still fully functional and was providing the settlement with the opportunity to charge all of their batteries.
As a reward... the settlement leaders tasked us with another mission.
Four of the townspeople had headed east to the coastline to do some fishing, somthing done commonly as it represented a good source of food for Haven. The four townspeople did not return.
Initially, they sent out the 'so-called cyborg' Derek 19.4.0 to investigate. Derek went to the coastline, he did not find them, conducted a scan of the region and returned to Haven with the results.
Derek provided us with a printout of his scan. It didn't look much like a printout, it looked more like it was hand drawn..?
Anyway. The 'printout' showed a tall headland with a vertical chalky cliff. There were also a couple of tall chalky stacks nearby. Close to the sea level were three caves, one cave in the headland and two in a stack. Derek had designated these as 'deep cave', 'small cave' and 'big cave'. Derek had also marked an area with fallen rocks and a pipe of some sort.
Finally, Derek's printout marked far out to sea the 'boat raider islands'. These were very tall buildings that rose out of a now flooded city from the 'world before' that had been consumed by the encroaching ocean and was home to 'boat raiders'. These boat raiders considered the people of Haven to be savage sub-humans and mutants that lived amongst the radiation soaked wastes. If encountered, they would kill us without hesitation.
We agreed to go and search for the fishermen, Jasper, Crimson, Bradley and the Warhound would accompany us.
Derek explained to us that it was ten kilometres to the coast and he could drive us halfway there, once he had reconfigured his 'cyborg chassis' for transportation mode.
This involved Derek going and getting his minivan and giving us a lift..?
Anyway. After walking the final five kilometres, we arrived at the headland. From our vantage point we studied the area through binoculars. The entire region was seemingly uninhabited, there was no sign of the fishermen.
Derek's scan had also noted some 'strange tracks' on the cliff on the headland. We searched the spot and found that some of the vegetation had been been eaten, there were also tracks. The tracks 'zig-zagged' across the grass before going over and down the cliff. Try as we might, we could not figure what the tracks meant?
Whilst we were contemplating our next move, we saw a hot air balloon floating up high and out to sea, it was being carried inland on a brisk ocean breeze?
As it drew closer, it was apparent that it was being piloted by three lovely ladies?
As the balloon drifted by, they waved at us enthusiastically and parachuted a little package down to us?
Within the package we found soap, lotion, toothpaste and various other personal sundries?
The hot air balloon continued it's journey?
Our next course of action was to climb down to the shoreline and explore the caves. This was not so simple though, neither Bradley nor the Warhound were built to traverse vertical surfaces.
In the end we had to proceed without the Warhound. Even though Bradley could not climb, the Warhound was strong enough to lower him down on a rope.
We left the Warhound on the cliff top with 'guard mode activated'.
Now that we were at the shoreline and close to the the 'deep cave'. We could see that the lower parts of the chalky rock here were discoloured. This was caused by seawater and the highest part of the discolouration indicated the highest point of the tide. From this we learnt two things.
At high tide, the seawater goes into the deep cave and partially floods it.
It was currently at low tide.
Upon entering the deep cave, it was obvious that it was a natural formation. We went deeper until the cave turned southwards.
That's when the situation changed.
As the cave continued south, it narrowed into a tunnel. Unlike the cave this was not a natural formation. Even though it was rocky and uneven it was clearly man made.
The tunnel ended in a concrete wall!
This concrete wall spanned the enter width and height of the tunnel and there was no way past it.
We examined the wall thoroughly; there was definitely no way past it, no secret door or switch, nothing! Nor could we dig past it, the wall was thick and it even if we had the right tools for the job, it would still probably take hours.
We had no choice, but to leave and explore another cave.
By the time we returned to the shoreline, it was ankle deep in seawater. The tide was coming in.
Next we decided to explore the 'small cave' in one of the stacks further out from the shore. This meant crossing over, luckily the sea was shallow and easily waded.
The small cave was, like the deep cave a natural formation and indeed small. Searching it did not take long and there was only one thing to find and it was a gruesome find.
There were dismembered corpses here. It seemed that they had been torn apart and entrails were splattered across the cave floor. Even worse, the corpses were missing the 'fleshy' parts of their bodies, these parts had somehow been sliced off! Cannibals?
After our examination, we counted the remains of four people. The presence of fishing equipment would seem to confirm our worst fear. These were the remains of the four fishermen from Haven.
As we were deciding whether to immediately return to Haven or not, the cave darkened.
A massive silhouetted form had crossed in front of the cave entrance, blotting the sun out.
As it lunged forward to attack, we saw it was some sort anthropomorphic monstrous half human half giant crab! It had a strange shell skin like giant pincers that clicked menacingly.
Our reactions were lightning fast and we peppered it with ranged attacks as it closed on us. It was not enough to put the beast down and it swung at us with its massive claws.
At this time crabs burrowed out of the sandy beach outside and scurried in to join the melee, fortunately they were a mere metre across! They barely constituted as a 'giant enemy crabs'!
We were able to defeat all of them without much mishap. Looking at the crab-monster pincers, it was apparent that it was responsible for the demise of the fishermen. There was nothing else of importance here.
Leaving the small cave, we entered the 'big cave'. This too was a natural cave formation, it was also empty and searching revealed nothing.
There was only the fallen rocks and the pipe left to explore.
Approaching, we found the open end of a circular pipe nearly 3 metres wide. It had partially been covered in what must have been a rock fall of some kind, perhaps part of the stack had collapsed?
Looking in the pipe, we saw that it was flooded. It was pitch black inside except for a faint glow coming off of the water? There was a stretch of some sort of greenish slime floating in the water that was the source of the glow
Shining our flashlights in the pipe, there was movement of some kind! Just beyond the slime we caught sight of a floating body just as it sank into the dark water. Beyond that there was the glint of machinery and metalwork reflecting the light and sitting on some sort of spot raised out of the water. This might be valuable salvage.
As we were looking for a way to cross the green patch and we noticed a green liquid slow dripping into the green patch. That part of the pipe was buckled inwards, no doubt there was a split in the pipe caused by the weight of the rock fall that allowed the liquid to get in.
It was decided that I, being the most 'nimble', should run across the curved inside of the pipe and leap over the green patch and reach the machinery.
Unfortunately, things did not go to plan. There must have been an unseen slippery spot on the pipe and I tumbled into the green patch.
Upon landing in the water I immediately felt a biting pain throughout my body. The green water, it must have been corrosive. Even worse, I then felt something gripping my foot and pulling me in deeper!
Agent Pip reacted quickly and threw me a rope, I managed to catch it and she pulled me back. As I was dragged out of the water, we saw what was gripping me.
It had an alluring female head that was attached to a strange naked sludge body? As we pulled it out, several more rose out of the water and advanced on us.
Grabbing our weapons and readying ourselves against their attacks, we were surprised to feel a strange sensation and hear soft voices in our heads. Voices that compelled us to walk into the water, even through it was dangerously corrosive.
It proved impossible to resist for some of us - particularly those of us of the male persuasion. Meanwhile the siren-like creatures attacked the remainder of our team.
Over the next few moments we managed to resist their psychic charms and haul ourselves out of the corrosive water and dispatch them.
Now that the area was free of threat, we checked out the machinery. It was junk, all of it was junk. It must have been put there to lure unwitting explorers such as ourselves.
During the fight we had taken a few knocks, so we took the opportunity to tend to our wounds.
We were in two minds about what to do next: Try and continue down the pipe or see if there was anywhere else to explore here.
In the end we decided to explore around the other side of the stack. This bought us to a empty raider boat that had been dragged ashore and camouflaged.
The crew was nowhere to be seen and all their equipment was gone. There was only one place they could have gone - the pipe? Perhaps the body we saw sinking into the water was the last of the boat raiders, fallen victim to the sirens.
Realising that we had a use for the boat, we laboriously dragged it into the pipe and pushed it into the water. It floated over the corrosive water, allowing us to use it as a platform to avoid it.
We pressed further on into the pipe. After about another twenty metres, we reached a steel wall that blocked about two-thirds of the tunnel. Only the top third was open.
There were rungs embedded in the steel wall that would allow us to climb up and over it.
Unfortunately, Bradley could not climb ladders and we were forced to leave it on guard mode here despite the protestations of Agent Pip.
Climbing the rungs to the top of the wall allowed us to look over it. The pipe turned downwards and continued into the darkness, the rungs also continued down the pipe.
As we climbed down, it dawned on us that this could not be any sort pipe, it must be an air shaft.
We reached the bottom of the rungs, the bottom of the shaft opened into the ceiling of some sort of dark room.
The floor below was a three to four metre drop, directly beneath the shaft was a puddle of sludge, no doubt caused by a very slow drip from above.
The drop into the room would be fairly safe to jump, but getting back up would not be so easy.
A pair of ropes were tied to the bottom rungs and we climbed down, avoiding the puddle.
The room was circular with four exits, each one at a ninety degree angle and perpendicular to the others.
The 'south' exit was blocked, there was a barricade constructed of sheets of steel. It was built from this side to keep something out. The same was true of the 'west' tunnel.
This left us the 'north' and 'east' exits to explore. We decided to go north.
The tunnel was actually another pipe, tubular and the same size and shape as the air shaft. Walking down the tunnel, we caught the reflecting glint of several sets of eyes in the periphery of our flashlights, their height ranged chest height to waist height. Whatever they were, they scuttled away out of the light before we got a look at them.
A little further ahead, the pipe ended at another circular room. Cautiously we stepped in and played our flashlights across the room, looking for the scuttling creatures.
They could not move quickly enough to entirely evade the light here. They were hunched, pale and naked, stooped humanoids with large eyes, long fingernails and sharp glinting teeth.
There was a lot of them.
Hissing they backed away to the edges of the room, always retreating from the light.
Before we had a chance to decide on how to approach them, they had circled behind us. No matter how we shone our flashlights, we could not keep them all at bay and they charged us!
Max was caught unaware and lost his bearings, the rest of us attacked. It wasn't enough and they began swarming us.
Each of us was attacked several times. I took a heavy hit from one of them: Between this and my injuries from the corrosive water, I was in a bad way.
We could not allow them to completely surround us and were left with no choice but to retreat back into the pipe, dragging a dazed Max with us. Fortunately it was only a few steps away and was a bottleneck that allowed us to use our flashlights to keep them at bay.
From there we retreated back to the room with four exits. The only remaining open pipe is the 'east' pipe.
Whilst Agent Pip guards the north pipe, the rest of us conducted a preliminary scouting of the east pipe and encountered a series of branching routes.
We did not think it was a wise move to try and explore the east pipes with an active threat behind us and who were aware of our presence. Unfortunately we just did not have the equipment to to deal with the situation. So it was decided to regroup in Haven and return with more equipment and more firepower.
We climbed back up the vertical shared, ensuring that we pulled up the ropes too and return to the surface.
As we were about to leave the stack, we saw a boat approaching, it was boat raiders, six of them. We hid out of sight in the big cave as they drew closer.
This would not work though, there were clear signs of footprints leading in and out of cave, that they could easily use to track us.
Agent Pip used her lure/deter power to scare the leader away. It worked.. for a while anyway. The leader ordered his raiders to turn around and leave. They obeyed, albeit in a confused manner - straining their necks to look back at the stack as they moved off.
Pretty soon however, the leader came to his senses and the boat swung back around to the stack.
We waited until they were much closer to the stack and opened fire with out ranged weapons, we even had the warhound on the headland open fire!
The fight persisted for a few moments as we exchanged fire with the boat raiders. In the end though, we managed to deal with all of them bar their helmsman, who was desperately looking for a way to escape his predicament.
Unfortunately for him, I used my shift power to teleport Max aboard the boat and take him prisoner at gunpoint.
Max ordered the raider to beach the boat. After that we secured our prisoner and scavenged their equipment - which was generally better than ours. Then we returned to Haven.
When we had more appropriate equipment and weapons, we would return to the stacks.
13th June 2020
Saturday evening, in front of my laptop, in the living room and logged into Skype.
This means that it is time for some RPG fun! Tonight, Matakishi will be running the first session of his 'Wasted Hack' game.
The Wasted Hack
No, this is not an RPG about drinking too much.
This is in fact an post-apocalyptic RPG that was developed out of 'The Black Hack'. Thus, like The Black Hack, this is a 'rules-light' RPG that looks a bit like a old D&D clone, but actually plays in a quite modern manner.
There are no skills in this game, instead all actions are tested whichever is the most appropriate of the game's six attributes using a d20.
There are four classes; damage and hit points are based on these classes, as are 'specials'.
Specials are unique to The Wasted Hack. Specials come in the basic and advanced variety for each class. Characters gain these every time they level up.
There's also the chance to gain a mutation after every level up. Mutations sort of fit the roll that was filled by magic.
The Wasted Hack is a little more 'crunchy' than The Black Hack and of course has been hacked to fit the setting, but if you've played one, you'll be familiar with the other.
Time to begin play.
Few remembered the details of the 'ancient age', the 'time before' or whatever they chose to call the past. But only 'the now' mattered, the day to day struggle to survive in a world with a scarred, ashen sky and a scorched, dehydrated landscape.
Haven was a bastion against this struggle and a home to my companions and I:
Agent Pip; an Infected. Played by Michaela.
Max Zanzibar; a Veteran. Played by Kevin.
Aoxomoxoa; a Savage. Played by Mark.
Sal Vige; a Scavenger. Played by yours truly AKA Giro.
We had been summoned by Haven's leader to his office, with him was Derek19-4-0, a cyborg.
Derek was covered with various pieces of circuit board and panels of metal. He had been introduced as a cyborg. But to us, it seemed as those various metal pieces has simply been attached to Derek's skin? We decided against remarking upon it.
Derek went on to explain that whilst exploring a canyon, he had come across a building of some sort. There was a door and Derek went to investigate, but something began interfering with his circuitry, so Derek returned to Haven.
Upon his arrival, Derek spoke with Jasper Prune and Crimson Pluck. The pair of them went out to investigate and had not returned.
So it was to us, that Haven's leader had turned to investigate. We of course, agreed and Derek came along as our guide.
The reinforced main gates of Haven slowly opened before us with squeal of old rusted metal. It opened into a blasted rocky landscape; The Wasteland.
We followed where Derek lead us. He took us through the barren land to the north west for around ten kilometres before we arrived at the edge of a fairly deep canyon.
Derek led us into the canyon, within it was cool and shaded. For two or three kilometres we travelled before we came across the site of some geographical upheaval or subsidence.
This event had revealed part of a metallic wall or structure of some sort, something lost from the world before and now revealed.
As Derek had described, there was a door here and it's construction was also metallic. The door had visibly been welded shut from the outside? Stress or weight had caused it to buckle and warp, splitting open.
The split was wide enough for a person to squeeze through. Jasper and Crimson must have gone through.
We peered through the gap, there was faint and wavering orange light and perhaps something moving in there?
Aoxo went through the gap and found himself at the edge of a room of sorts. In the flickering light he saw that along one side, a rockfall had crashed through the ceiling, collapsing part of the room. The rocks had spilled into a pile of rubble.
Along another side were some chairs, a desk and a dead computer console. On that wall and close to the desk was some sort of door.
Most strangely of all, in the centre of the room was a camp fire. Next to the camp fire were Jasper and Crimson, both were were in a sitting position and tied up.
Close to them were four desert raiders, they had not noticed us and were standing there, simply watching the camp fire over their prisoners, their weapons discarded next to the camp fire.
I followed Aoxo into the room. Jasper and Crimson noticed us at this point and began frantically gesturing at us with their eyes, but it was undecipherable to our us.
Neither Aoxo nor I made a move, we both had the same thought; 'this had to be a trap'. We studied the room intensely and in the dim light, something seemed to be moving behind the rubble. Aoxo silently circled the room hoping to get a better look at the situation, meanwhile Pip and Max entered the room.
From his new position, Aoxo was shocked by what he saw.
From each of the four raiders, there was a weird tendril, running from the back of their heads to the rubble!
Aoxo's eyes followed the tendrils from the raiders to behind the rubble and they ended at some sort of amorphous protoplasmic blob!
At this point, whatever was in this room had stirred into action. No doubt it had realised that we had not fallen for it's trap. The four raiders began shifting towards us in an ungainly manner.
We sprang into action.
Aoxo and I leapt forward, hacking at the tendrils, when they were cut, the raiders slumped to the floor.
Max ran forward and released Jasper.
Then with snaking speed, tendrils whipped out from the protoplasm and reattached themselves to the fallen raiders who clambered back to their feet.
Realising that cutting away the tendrils would not solve the problem, I lunged for the beast and struck a glancing blow at its body with my machete.
Max freed Crimson as Pip and Aoxo tangled with the desert raiders.
The creature flung a tendril out at me and I was unable to avoid it. I felt lancing pain as it stabbed me, but worse than that, I felt the strangest of sensations as I felt something pushing at my mind.
Before anything else had time to occur, Max flung a flaming torch at the creature. The result was immediate: The creature withdrew it tendrils from the desert raiders and I, it then 'melted' into the rubble and we heard a metallic sounding twang. The raiders dropped to the ground; dead as can be.
Things had calmed down and we took stock of our situation.
Now that the fighting had stopped, Derek came in and joined us.
The room appeared to be some sort of foyer. The console on the desk did not work, nor did any of the other panels or buttons; there was no electricity.
The door was made of glass, we could make out a room beyond it. It was a largish room and we noticed an air vent close to the ceiling on one wall. In the centre of the room was a table there covered in past world technology. There were also seven other doors leading out of the room.
We spoke with Jasper and Crimson and they told what had occurred. After speaking with Derek, they came here to investigate. They entered the through the broken door and whilst they were examining the room, they were ambushed by the raiders.
They were tied up and a camp fire was lit. The raiders were discussing what to do next, the creature appeared and took control of the raiders. It was not too long before we entered the scene.
We discussed what to do next and it was decided that this creature - whatever it was, could not be left to roam free. Lacking the tools to reseal the door, we had no choice but to hunt it down.
The glass door was our way further into this complex, but without electricity the door would not open. Despite our best efforts we could not force the door open or smash the glass. It was some sort of security door.
We were stymied and needed to find an alternate way in. Max went over to the rubble into which the creature had melted through and cleared it away. Beneath, there was an air vent in the floor. There was also an air vent other room, maybe this would lead us there.
Despite my reservations about crawling through air ducts when they were also being used by weird crawling protoplasmic creatures; we went in and were joined by Derek, Jasper and Crimson.
After some crawling, we found the vent to the room, pushed the grate and dropped down.
We were in.
The room was filled with artefacts from the world before, but none of it worked. Either it lacked power, or we just did not comprehend it.
Even so, all of it had a high trade in value.
There were seven doors to explore and a protoplasmic beast to find, so there was no time to waste.
We found a bathroom, a 'luxury' from the world before. None of the taps or toilets appeared to work. The water supply must have dried long ago.
The next room we entered, looked like some sort of 'power room'. There were a few rows of instrumentation and dials here. There were also two distinct toggle switches.
We flicked the first toggle and nothing happened.
When the second toggle was flicked, red lighting filled the room - and other parts of the complex as well. It seems that we had triggered the emergency lighting.
The other toggle was probably for main power, it was then that we noticed a close by keypad, no doubt the toggle also required a numeric code to function.
Moving on, we encountered was some sort of medical station or first aid room.
We searched the room thoroughly and found a few meagre supplies of bandages and medkits. Everything else was either broken or decayed beyond use.
Continuing with our exploration, we came across an office, with a desk and chairs. It was a mess, littered with files, folders, letters and the like.
Now we did know too much about the people from the world before; but we did know that they were terrible at remembering pass codes - and this was exactly the kind of place they would keep them written down!
We searched the desk and found a piece of paper containing a string of numbers. Returning to the power room, the numbers were punched into the number pad.
With an audible click and a hum, lights flickered into life all over and the red hue was replaced by cold white glare. Whatever power source this place had still functioned.
Pressing on with our exploration: Next there was a 'janitor's room'. In here was a 'Bradley-bot', an anthropomorphic cleaning robot. The robot was inactive, no doubt it's power cell was completely depleted.
We had power now and the Bradley-bot could be recharged. It was plugged into the wall socket and a small red light winked on, it would take time to recharge.
The janitor's room was also filled with bottles and containers. I knew enough to know that these might contain some sort of alcohol. After some effort I managed to mix together a Molotov cocktail, given how the creature reacted to fire, it might prove useful.
The final door we encountered was sturdy and securely shut and there was no way we were going to open it.
Examining the door led us to spot a panel with a thin slot. The door required some sort of 'security card' to open.
Returning to the office, we searched it and found what must have been a security card. Taking it back to the door and fitting it into the slot proved successful, the door slid open.
What was on the other side was something we were not expecting and there was a lot to take in.
The door had opened into a laboratory. The ventilation duct from the previous room continuing through the lab here. There was also an air vent in that duct and the protoplasmic creature was hanging out of it. It had about a dozen tendrils reached out to what once might have been scientists, but were now clearly dead?
There was smashed equipment and apparatus across the room. At one side there were five transparent and undamaged flasks.
In each flask was a undulating and pulsing ooze which - save for their colour were similar to the protoplasmic creature.
There was but a moment to take it all in, then the moment vanished and everything seemed to happen at once.
The scientist-zombies split into two groups. Five moved towards the flasks, then grabbed and smashed them. The remainder came in our direction.
Derek fled out of the room and went and hid in the janitor's room.
Waisting no time, I lit an arrow and shot it at the creature, it was a solid hit. Max then threw the Molotov at it and it erupted in flame, immediately retreating into the vent again, taking it's tendrils with it.
The scientist-zombies were no longer a threat, but now there five ooze-creatures closing in on us.
There was a thick ooze, a runny ooze, a sticky ooze, a red ooze and finally a sparkly ooze!
Max swiped his torch at the closest one - which was the runny ooze and it seemed vulnerable to fire.
I switched to my flaming torch and hit the thick ooze and set fire to it.
Agent Pip attacked the sticky ooze with her crowbar, it had some effect, but the ooze stuck to the crowbar and began climbing it!
Aoxo also tusseled with the runny ooze.
The oozes then counter-attacked. The red one struck Jasper and began sucking his blood. The runny one struck at Crimson. Both of them were in a bad way.
The sticky ooze continued crawling up Agent Pip's arm and then her back.
Jasper and Crimson were forced to retreat.
Max grabbed the runny ooze and sprinted. He dashed for the bathroom and threw it down the toilet and closed the lid: What a way to go.
Agent Pip tried squashing the sticky ooze by slamming her crowbar into the wall. But there was no particular benefit.
Aoxo also attacked the sticky ooze and I pressed my attack on the thick ooze.
The sticky ooze continued crawling over Agent Pip and injuring her. Unfortunately, there was no respite for Pip as the red ooze joined the attack on her.
The thick ooze missed its attack on me and we stayed out of range of the sparkly one.
Max returned with a liquid of sorts and hurled it on the sparkly ooze, the sparkly ooze sizzled and popped, it was not a happy ooze.
Agent Pip's and Aoxo's attacks were enough to destroy the sticky ooze and it fell to the ground, the red ooze then ignored Pip and began to devour the sticky ooze!
I pressed the attack and dealt with the thick ooze.
The sparkly ooze attacked, but we avoided it and the red ooze was distracted.
Max then threw a second bucket of liquid over the sparkly ooze and that finished it! As the red ooze was busy consuming the dead sticky ooze, we quickly did for it!
Things calmed down and searching the lab revealed nothing of use or value. It was then decided that we should take a 'short rest'. Agent Pip had suffered some injury from the oozes, as had Jasper and Crimson.
Not only were we revitalised from the rest, the Bradley-bot was recharged, we were ready!
There were five exits from the lab, so on we went, now accompanied by Derek and Bradley - who had been armed with a hand weapon.
Most of the exits led to unremarkable rooms, but one led to an elevator. We noticed that the air duct made its way through here.
The only way was down and down the elevator went for what we estimated was six storeys.
The door slid open with a chime into a rocky passage way. Cautiously we advanced until the passage widened into a cavernous room. We surveyed the area ahead.
In the centre of the cavern was some sort of spherical rock embedded in the cave floor. It was clearly different to its surroundings and seemed to be some sort of inert meteorite and perhaps the source of the protoplasmic oozes. We also spotted the protoplasmic creature, it was huddled beneath an air vent. There were also four scientist-zombies wandering this room, but they were not linked to the protoplasm via tendrils?
Finally, on the far side on the cavern was an exit.
We entered the room and the four scientist-zombies immediately turned and attacked! One them fell to our ranged attacks and Agent Pip and Aoxo met the others in melee. We instructed Bradley to also attack,
When the scientist-zombies were struck by our attacks, they would 'spit' small globs of protoplasm at their attackers! Agent Pip was hit by one and it crawled into her mouth! Agent Pip felt that familiar pushing against her mind. Bradley was also struck, but was unaffected being a robot.
Attacking the scientist-zombies was risky, we realised that we needed to deal with the source of the risk instead.
Max and I concentrated our attacks on the creature. Max unloaded his shotgun on it and I charged in with my torch. Our combined attacks killed the creature, the scientist-zombies collapsed. The fight was over.
Searching the cave revealed nothing of significance.
There was the exit on the other side of the cavern that led to another smaller cave.
Inside this smaller cave was a surprising find: A Warhound combat robot!
Like Bradley before, this robot was inactive. With some effort we managed to 'jump-start' the Warhound.
The threat of the protoplasm had been eliminated and we had finished exploring the complex. There was nothing left to do other than return to Haven.
7th June 2020
Sunday lunch time, I'm sipping an energy drink in my living room and sitting in front of my laptop.
This can only mean it's time for Matt's 50 Fathoms campaign.
It's early morning and we're at the Baltimus docks.
As we're pondering our next move, two sailors walk past us and we could not help but overhear their conversation.
They were talking about infamous pirate 'Francis L'Ollonaise'. He had taken someone prisoner and was demanding a ransom for him. They intimated that he was 'Alain Amemnus', the son of the dead 'King Amemnus'. He was being held at the town of 'Tulago'.
This was significant news to us. Alain may know where his father's sword was, or may even have possession of it!
It was vital that we headed to Tulago. We checked our maps and discovered Tulago was on the far side of the 'Cunavo', the very island we were on.
The journey to Tulago took less than a day. As we drew closer, we could see seven pirate ships moored outside Tulago.
This seemed strange, as far as we knew, Tulago was not some sort of pirate stronghold or refuge?
We chose to drop anchor further out from the shoreline and observe the situation with spyglasses.
Whilst watching, we saw there was a large gathering in what passed as Tulago's town square. There were about three hundred people, they were cooking and eating, drinking, playing music, dancing and generally having a good time.
With further observation, it was noted that these did not look like normal townsfolk, nor did we spot any women amongst the revellers?
All of this made us very suspicious of events unfolding in Tulago.
Continuing to watch, we then noticed one man, sitting in a throne and not partaking in the carousing. He was being given well prepared food by the cooks and wine. Could this be the pirate L'Ollonaise?
It was necessary to explore the town, but it seemed just too dangerous to simply walk into Tulago. After some discussion, it was decided to wait until later. No doubt after too much food and drink, people would fall asleep or descend into a stupor.
This is indeed what occurred, it took until half-past midnight until events quietened down, everybody dispersed and stillness fell upon Tulago. We noted that the pirate who had sat on the throne retired to a large building in the north of the town
We moved our ships a half a mile to the east of Tulago and moored close to the coast line here. The settlement was close to the beach, but was surrounded by forest on all three other sides. Our plan was to approach Tulago from the cover of the forest. We landed some boats on the shore and told the sailors to wait on the beach and remain alert - in case we needed to make a speedy retreat.
The forest floor was uneven and it was dark, which made for slow going. It was close to an hour before we reached the perimeter of the village.
There were equal number of brick and wooden buildings in Tulago. It seemed unlikely to us that a prisoner would be kept in a wooden shack - it would be too easy for them to escape. So we decided to concentrate on the brick buildings.
Shia was concerned that Win and herself would not be able to 'blend in' if we were spotted in the town. Only Baxter and I entered Tulago. The others remained in the tree line.
We sneaked across some clear ground to the closest brick building and scouted it out.
Baxter looked inside, the interior was wrecked. The floor was littered with cutlery and broken earthenware. The place had been turned over, no doubt about it.
Quietly and carefully, Baxter climbed through a broken window into the room. Looking around, he found nothing. During his search, he did hear noise coming from upstairs.
He paused to a few moments and noises stopped, he could just about hear snoring.
This did not seem like a place to hold a prisoner, so we decided to move on. Luckily, the next potential building was just a few feet away.
Here too, the windows were broken and open. Looking in, we were not surprised to find a mess similar to the previous building and searching only confirmed this.
From here however, we could see another, larger brick building, just north. The windows were boarded up from the outside and each one also had three iron bars across the boards. This looked promising.
We reached the third building without mishap. From here, it was clear that there was a small hole in the boards of each window, perhaps to allow for air and light?
Before trying to gain entry, we cased the outside. We counted a total of eight boarded up windows, certainly the building was large enough for several rooms. More importantly, we noticed two guards at north west corner, by the only door in. Although both we slumped to the floor and propped against the wall with drooping heads, their chests rising and falling.
Choosing the window furthest from the sleeping guards, which was along the southern side of the building; we investigated. It was dark inside, but it seemed that there might be two people in the room.
Upon examining the barricaded windows, Baxter saw that the workmanship was quite shoddy. Without too much effort and noise, Baxter managed to pry one of the bars free.
This did however rouse one of the occupants. He seemed afraid and confused. We explained that we were here to help. During the conversation, he told us that there were ten prisoners here in all. Pirates had invaded Tulago and the ten of them had distracted the pirates well enough to allow their families to escape.
During this time, Baxter had been carefully removing the bars and boards until there was enough space to allow the prisoners out.
We had freed three men. They explained to us that they had been paraded in front of the pirates and tortured. And they did indeed bear the injuries of extensive torture. the pirates had wanted to know about their escaped families.
They said that the other prisoners were somewhere else in the building. We said that we would help them. We then told the three men to head east into the tree line, where they would encounter our friends, who would help them.
The three of them silently went to the trees, where they met Shia and Win, who used her Healing magic to ease their wounds.
Meanwhile we had moved to the south eastern window. Baxter once again managed to open up the window quietly.
Within the room were seven other men, they had clearly all received beatings, but did not display any signs of systematic torture.
The men explained to us that they were expecting to dragged out of the room one by one and tortured in the morning, before being slung in the other room.
We had found all ten prisoners, but none of them were Alain Memnus, so we asked if there were any more prisoners?
They told us that they had heard another prisoner in an adjacent room, but had no idea who he was and had never seen him. They heard pirates threatening him and were demanding something from him, which he quickly gave up.
We instructed them to quietly head east and into the trees to meet up with our companions.
After some deduction, we realised that the only window into this adjacent room was on the north side of the building and faced the town square. Not only would this leave us exposed, there were two guards sleeping just around the corner.
Baxter was concerned that the guards might wake up. So he went round the corner and gave each of them a gentle 'tap on the head', which sent them from a stupor into genuine unconsciousness!
Baxter then began removing the bars and wooden boards. As he was clearing them away, he saw a man sleeping soundly on the floor.
He was handsome, dark haired and extravagantly dressed. Might this be Alain Amemnus?
Once Baxter had cleared the window, he climbed in.
He then kicked the man awake, who promptly drew a breathe to shout! Baxter quickly slapped a hand over his mouth and told him to not 'panic'.
It took a minute, but Baxter convinced him that we weren't here to hurt him. Baxter removed his hand and then the prisoner immediately complained about 'being touched by a commoner'!
He was as we suspected Alain Memnus. Once Baxter told him that we were here to rescue him, he said we should leave without delay and tried climbing through the window, but tripped on the way out.
From the corner outside I saw Alain come out of the window and land squarely on his face. Baxter followed.
Now that we were all outside, Alain wanted to leave straight away. Alain seemed to be living up to his reputation.
We stopped him leaving and asked about his father's sword. There was perhaps a hint of shame on his face as he admitted that he gave up his sword to L'Ollonaise without any resistance.
We then told Alain to carefully head east and join the others in the forest. Instead of stealthy making his way there, he simply walked off. Utterly unaware of the risks.
When Alain reached the forest and met with Shia and Win, he asked what was going on. Shia explained that once Baxter and I returned with his father's sword, we would return to our ships and all escape.
Alain insisted that they make their escape now, however Shia refused and said that they would wait.
Back in Tulago, We knew that L'Ollonaise must have possessed the sword we had been searching for. We also knew where he was sleeping for the night. Unlike the others' L'Ollonaise was not drunk. Getting the sword would prove more challenging and a greater risk.
30th May 2020
Saturday night at home in front of the laptop and logged into Skype. It can only mean it's time for the conclusion of Matakishi's 'In Darkest Warrens' game.
Location: Hollyleaf Inn, Darkholme.
Thanks to his quick witted actions, Randulf had acquired a sack-full of 'garden gnomes' to sell
When in Darkholme; the place to sell things was The Dirt Market. We headed down to the market and spoke with the market's manager.
He told us that "We were in luck!". A market stall had just been vacated and was now available: It seems that Pendolin came by this very morning, packed up all of his stock and hastily left. A little later a 'red-man' who stank awfully came looking for Pendolin, his features were hidden by a wide brimmed hat, although the other sellers noted the red-man had glowing eyes.
Red skin, glowing eyes. This had us... concerned.
Regardless of this, Randulf agreed to the manager's terms - a 10% cut of any profit and took over the stall.
Little time passed before a red-man in a wide brimmed hat came a-visiting! We detected a strong smell of sulphur about him as he drew closer. He looked at the stall and looked at Randulf. He then gave a grunt and wandered off. Although a moment later he appeared to change his mind and turned back to the stall.
"Where is Pendolin? And who are you?" He asked, before adding. "Are you related to him?".
Our response was. "And who are you?".
"Tell Pendolin he has one day. Then he and all his relatives - including you, are forfeit." said the red-man. With one clawed finger he scratched a glowing rune or glyph into the table.
This chafed Randulf who had only just acquired this market stall! As the red-man went to depart, Randulf lunged out and grabbed the red-man's arm from behind.
The red-man grabbed Randulf's hand and threw him over his shoulder so that Randulf thumped down face up on the ground in front of him.
Before leaving, the red-man then leant down and inscribed the same glyph on Randulf's forehead!
When the red-man was gone, Urham cast an identify spell on the glyph and learnt it was demonic in nature and was also some sort of timer.
It seemed important that we warned Pendolin about this oncoming problem, but no one knew where he had gone. His home was some two days travel from Darkholme.
Following a discussion, it is decided that we should seek professional advice, in other words speak with Petunia Rootlocks.
Leaving the stall under the diligent, watchful eyes of the market guards, we headed for
Our conversation with Petunia upon our arrival was fairly brief. Petunia scrutinised the glyph, she then explained that it was a 'glyph of bargaining'! The bargain requires an innocent soul to be paid before the time expires - which was in about nineteen hours.
Petunia also explained that it seemed this bargain was struck at 'The Blood Pit'.
The only thing we had learnt about The Blood Pit is; 'Adding your blood to the pit acts like a wishing well, apparently'.
So off to The Blood pit we went.
Arriving at The Blood Pit, we found it to be a peculiar place.
The Blood Pit was described as a 'wishing well' and that's what it looked like. Well, except for the layers of dried and caked blood coated all over the well's rim.
There was also a nauseatingly disgusting odour emanating from it. Reluctantly, we peered into pit and it was indeed filled with a dark, viscous liquid, blood.
Finally we noticed that there were quite a few tramps loitering around the pit?
Soon after our arrival, a man came shambling up to The Blood Pit. He stretched an arm over the it and opened a vein! A fair amount of blood dripped into pit until suddenly his arms were filled with sacks of gold!
As he departed, he flipped a generous number of coins to the tramps and beggars, so that's why they were here.
A few minutes after the man's departure, a demonic thing came crawling out of The Blood Pit! It's scales were slick with dripping blood and it stalked off in the same direction as the man.
We were quite taken aback and before we could formulate any response we heard chilling screams coming from that direction.
Soon the demon came slinking back. In one clawed hand is held a small and pulsating organ of some kind. We could hear a wailing cry coming from the object as the demon clambered back down into The Blood Pit and sunk back down.
Well, we didn't learn much about the glyph of bargaining here. We did however get a very good idea of what was going to happen in less than nineteen hours time!
Help is what we needed. We considered our options and one of those was 'The Broken Kirk'.
Apparently it was 'Once a grand church, now a barely rebuilt
ruin. The last Priests of the Seven Tongues have a base here'.
Although we knew nothing of these priests, they might have some knowledge or skill that could be used against our infernal enemy.
The Broken Kirk was indeed as described. These were the shattered remains of massive and elaborate structure from times past.
In amongst these ruins an effort had been made to build a new church, but it was less than spectacular.
Living amongst these ruins were a band of priests and acolytes. We were introduced to their leader 'Archpriest Gergun Spittlewood'.
Once Gergun had heard the tale of our predicament, he was eager to help and committed his men and himself to our cause.
Gergun has some sort of magical aptitude, he blessed Randulf's sword, which grew in power and began to glow piously.
We gave Gergun one of our garden gnomes in exchange for another blessing on Randulf's shield, but the blessing failed. It was not to be.
Gergun said that they would begin to sing and dance until the appointed time and were looking forward to the coming battle against the forces of darkness.
Despite their positive attitude, we could not help but notice that they were a little shambolic. It did little to raise our hopes
Leaving Gergun and his men to their singing and dancing, we travelled back to the Fiddler's Quarrel in Darkholme looking for more allies.
The barkeep did not look happy to see us, but we ignored him and headed down into the basement. Looking around, it seemed a little different down here. The rat-men were in the process of packing all their gear up and the tunnel to The Cursed Monastery had been barricaded. We also noticed a pile of corpses in a corner!
The rat-men explained that the barkeep had sent a band of mercenaries down here to 'deal with them', but things hadn't worked out so well for the mercenaries. The rat-men also told us that they had eaten one hundred coins worth of food and drink from the basement and it was time to leave and find some adventure!
This seemed like an auspicious moment to us and we asked the rat-men to join our cause. Their only demand was that they received a fair share of whatever loot we found. We agreed and they finished packing up their kit and came with us.
Roland, Roderick, Roger and Rory joined our company.
Our next port of call was 'The Garrison', all we knew about The Garrison was that it was commanded by 'Moon Sirencall'. A garrison should be a good place to recruit people for a battle.
Moon was a sturdy, reliable looking halfling. Unfortunately, she could not provide us with any help. She explained that the vast majority of her guards were corrupt and could not be trusted in a vital situation. Particularly one that involved some sort of demon!
Moon suggested that if we were looking for fighters to try the dwarfs from 'Dredgeside Docks' or the smugglers at Fiddler's Quarrel. - So that's goes on behind the door in Fiddler's Quarrel.
It did not seem likely to us that we would be likely to be able to recruit either of these to groups to our cause.
Instead we decided to look for Pendolin, no doubt he would need help. But where to look, the only clue we had led us to a village two days out of Darkholme. There was less than a day until the bargain expired, it was not viable to go to the village.
Petunia was a wizard and she could help us, or so our reasoning went.
Upon returning to The Spire, Petunia cast a scry spell. It turned out that Pendolin was a lot closer than we had been led to believe, close to Darkholme in fact. There was something blocking the scry spell and Petunia could not an exact fix on the location, only that it was someplace 'in the dark'?
Petunia said that she could teleport us close by, if that's what we wanted. It was what we wanted, so Petunia cast a teleportation circle spell and off to this 'mysterious place' we went.
Urham cast a light spell. We were in an chamber somewhere and in one corner was Pendolin Washer! He was sitting there in a protective magic circle made of his lucky charms and looked quite surprised to see us.
Personally I did not rate that his magic circle would provide much in the way of protection.
We explained to Pendolin that we knew about the red-man and that we intended to battle him along with the priests of Seven Tongues. Next we asked Pendolin where we were and he told us we were at The Broken Kirk - that was convenient!
There was six hours to go, we went and joined the others and prepared to battle. We would confront the red-man and the rat-men would hide in the darkness and attack from range.
The acolytes were also prepared.
I noticed that there was a difference between acolytes of the Seven Tongues and the cultists of Conrad the Crazed.
Cultists wielded wicked curved daggers.
Acolytes wielded wicked curved holy daggers! Much better!
During the wait we concocted a cunning plan to deal with the demon. Uusing Urham's remaining bottles of goblin moonshine to give the red-man a surprise. Archpriest Gergun agreed to help us with this.
Exactly on time, the red-man appeared from the darkness.
From behind his protective circle, Pendolin shouted. "I'm glad you're here. I've brought four innocent souls for you.". And he pointed at us! So much for Pendolin.
The red-man asked us if we were willing to be part of the bargain, we replied by saying definitely not.
Urham gave Gergun a glass of moonshine. Gergun would share this drink with the red-men as a gesture of success. Gergun took a sip before handing it over and said. "I like this.". Before finishing the entire glass. So much for Gergun.
Urham interceded and gave a bottle of the moonshine to the red-man. The red-man drank all of it and said that he like it very much and would 'spare' Urham.
Now that the pleasantries were dispensed with, the battle ensued.
Egbert struck the red-man with a hold spell and attacked.
Randulf charged and attacked.
Urham cast smite and attacked.
From range, the Rat-men attacked.
The acolytes charged in and mobbed the red-man, then attacked.
We all attacked!
In the following moments, the red-man shrugged off the hold spell and began attacking the acolytes.
The mobbing acolytes had made it hard for anyone to get in an attack.
Randulf had to pull acolytes off in order to get at the red-man.
Meanwhile the red-man deflected Egbert's smite spell.
I was forced to take flight to attack.
The rat-men just attacked anyway.
In the next few moments, we managed to defeat the red-man, who fell to the ground in a spectacular supernatural explosion. Victory!
The din of battle faded away and suddenly we heard a hideous scream behind us.
The red-man, clearly now in perfect health was standing over the crumpled form of Pendolin. In one clawed hand he held a pulsating and wailing soul...
Poor Pendolin, neither his charms nor his luck were ever any good.
"That was a fun battle." Said the red-man. "Now I must be off to The Halfmoon Forest to get more moonshine!".
"I think I'll join you." Added Archpriest Gergun.
The pair of them headed off to The Halfmoon Forest together...
We thought it best not to comment.
With the curse lifted, we were at a loss for what to do next.
Logic - or at least our version of logic dictated that we go somewhere new. And that new place was 'The Seven Fingers'
Described as: 'Seven standing stones on the outskirts of the town'. I looked forward to seeing this monument.
We arrived at The Seven Fingers without incident. I must admit that I was slightly disappointed to find only six standing stones.
A cursory examination revealed that one of the stones had been removed.
I searched for tracks and found a great number them as well as indications of some sort of sled being utilised.
The evidence indicated that the missing stone had been toppled on to a sled and dragged away by a great many individuals.
Detect magic was cast on the tracks and there was definitely some traces of magic to the them?
The tracks led to 'The Boneyard' and we followed.
The Boneyard was described as 'A gravesite where hundreds were buried
after the Night War'.
There was what looked like a freshly constructed earth mound here. Atop the mound was the missing standing stone. Littered around the stone were a number of fresh bodies. That had clearly been ritually sacrificed in some way in the service of an unholy rite.
Further examination revealed much of the ground around this mound had been heavily disturbed in some way. There were a large number of confusing footprints here.
It was at about this time that we realised how quiet The Boneyard was, there were no animals here nor twittering birdsong. It was devoid of living things.
Nefarious unholy rituals have a tendency to occur during the hours of night. We decided to hide and wait until sunset. The Boneyard was a flat region that pretty much lacked vegetation, so we hid a little way from the mound and waited.
The sun crawled across the sky and sunk in the west as bright day gave way to inky night.
From our position, we saw the earth around the mound churn and and seethe. Then groups of skeleton emerged and clambered from the ground and even a sled appeared.
They numbered around two hundred in total, the majority of the skeletons took the sled and headed for The Seven Fingers. But group of about a dozen skeletons headed out in a different direction.
It is obvious that they were going in search of victims for their ritual. We gave chase and intercepted them before they reached any village or settlement.
Urham cast fireball on the band of skeletons and they were obliterated!
Returning to our hiding spot, we had to wait a while for the other skeletons to return with another standing stone and to begin raising it.
After this, they seemed to be standing around waiting, no doubt expecting the other skeletons to return with sacrifices.
After a further length of time, another group of a dozen skeletons detached itself from the main mob and headed after the first small group.
The mob of skeletons appeared to be acting in a coordinated and intelligent manner. We could not see if they had a leader or were being directed.
Regardless of this, we had to follow the second group and eliminate it. Which we did with another judicious use of the fireball spell.
Our attention was drawn to the shattered remains of the previous group. The broken fragments were somehow slowly moving and rolling together! Given enough time, no doubt this would result in their eventual reconstruction. A well placed dispel magic spell put an end to that though!
Once again we returned to our hiding spot to see the skeletons waiting. After another length of time we saw another figure appear, this time on the mound.
Wreathed in weird, flickering green flames, adorned with a ornately decorated robe and with a skull for a head. There was no question what this was; a lich!
We watched as the lich ordered a third band of a dozen skeletons off - this time in a different direction.
We moved to intercept the third group, if things continued like this, we would whittle down the numbers quite well.
As we reached the third band, Egbert cast fireball on them, but the spell was deflected back at us!
Fortunately for us, with an exemplary display of quick wits Urham cast a counterspell and the fireball was dissipated.
It was now that the lich appeared in a flash of green light and attacked.
Randulf and I were subjected to a hold spell and rooted to the spot.
Luckily Randulf was freed by a dispel magic spell and charged in.
In true barbarian form, Randulf grabbed the lich's skull head and ripped it off! The lich's body was still staggering around looking for its head and the skull blasted Randulf with eye-beams!
Meanwhile, the skeletons mobbed the other party members. Urham and Egbert blasted them with smite spells and the rat-men joined the melee.
The skull was struggling in Randulf's grip, but he managed to land a mighty roundhouse kick on the lich's body, which turned out out to empty robes which fluttered to the ground?
The melee with the skeletons continued and I was repeatedly struck in my paralysed state. Eventually they were all destroyed.
We were now faced with a dilemma. We had the lich's skull with us, but we knew it could not be permanently destroyed. We had to destroy the lich's 'soul-jar' to destroy the lich. This would be tricky whilst carrying around a maniacal skull! We needed to get rid of the skull.
After a quick discussion, we had a plan.
Egbert cast a teleportation circle that took us the The Blood Pit and we dropped the skull into the well.
It might be have been my imagination, but I thought I heard a long drawn out swear word reverberating out of the pit before it was cut off by a loud plop noise!
Then Urham cast another teleportation circle that took us to The Boneyard.
A streak of light in the eastern sky revealed nearly dawn was nearly upon us and the skeletons were returning themselves to their earthy resting places.
We had no time to spare and searched the mound. At the top we found a trapdoor.
Behind the trapdoor were a set of steps, we followed them and they spiralled down a long way and ended in a constructed room.
In the centre stood a sarcophagus and to one side a pedestal with a book.
Rushing to the sarcophagus, we opened it and found a headless body within; the lich's body. Sensibly and as would be expected; we set fire to it.
Egbert examined the book. It was called 'The Hand of Gollus: The Fallen God'. It was a treatise on assembling the seven fingers into the hand of Gollus and using blood sacrifices to resurrect him.
It turned out that Gollus had seven fingers on one hand. Who knew, useful when making rude and inappropriate gestures I guess.
I was unconvinced that we had neutralised the lich and we searched the chamber for signs of anything else.
There was something strange about the sarcophagus, something underneath it?
Flexing bulging, oiled muscles, Randulf stepped forward to move the sarcophagus - and failed.
It was left to scrawny Egbert to move it.
Once moved, another trapdoor was revealed. There were more steps that led down to small room. Within was a glowing jar!
We rushed to destroy it.
It was then that a bloody and grinning flying skull swooped down the steps. The lich had returned and it was moving to attack!
Final blows were landed on the soul-jar and it was shattered. The skull was equally shattered before it could attack.
With the threat of the lich now removed, the two standing stones could be moved back to their original location unhurriedly.
There was also the question of; 'what should be done with the book?'. Ultimately, we decided to take it to Petunia at The Spire.
Petunia paid us handsomely for it.
Now that there were no pressing matters, we discussed how we were going to deal with the golden giant chicken eggs we had left at The Cursed Monastery. Our greatest concern was unsuccessfully casting charm creature spells.
Petunia informed us that casting a spell via a wand was always accurate, Petunia then told us that she could provide us with a wand of charm creature, but of course it would come at a cost.
Petunia wanted a 'griffin's skull'! We tried to haggle with her and even offered her another garden gnome, but her mind was made up. A griffin's skull is what she wanted.
Where to acquire a griffin's skull?
There was only one place we could think of: The eponymous 'Skull Hill'. Described as 'A hill of varied skulls to the north of the city'. It seemed the place to go.
Leaving Darkholme we came across a hill and on that hill was another hill... A hill of skulls!
There was an incalculable number of skulls of all kinds here, finding a griffin skull would take an eternity.
But that's why we have mages! Urham cast identify and located a griffin skull. It was nestled almost at the bottom of the skull hill with possibly thousands of other skulls piled on top of it.
It would take a lot of muscle to pull if free of the other skulls.
Once more, flexing bulging, oiled muscles, Randulf stepped forward to remove the skull - and failed.
Once more, it was left to scrawny Egbert to retrieve the skull.
A few moments after getting the skull, we heard a strange rumbling, toppling noise coming from Skull Hill.
The whole hill was beginning to tremble and shake. A few skulls tumbled and bounced down the slope and then a few more and then the slope buckled and collapsed in on itself and the avalanche began!
Urham and I both flew above the avalanche, taking rat-men with us and Randulf bounded out of the way effortlessly. Unfortunately, whilst still gripping the griffin skull, Egbert was caught up by the avalanche of skulls and badly battered as he swept down the hill.
Luckily, as Egbert slid past, Randulf managed to pluck him out of the flow of skulls.
From my vantage point, I could see that the avalanche was crashing down towards a small village at the base of the hill. Who knew the weight the avalanche carried, it might destroy the village.
A house on the outskirts of the village was closest to the hill and would be the first hit. Quick as I could I flew down, dropped down the rat-men on the roof and instructed the occupants to climb on to the roof, but they refused.
Just because there was a rat-man on the roof!
Egbert managed to cast a teleportation circle spell and got the villagers to safety before the avalanche hit.
There was an almighty roar when the avalanche struck the house. Fortuitously, the skulls were scattered and dispersed when they hit the house, taking the energy out of the avalanche. The few skulls that rolled into the village proper did no damage.
Unfortunately, the first house was more or less flattened and only a few bricks remained standing. Urham gave the occupants a generous amount of coin to pay for the rebuilding.
Looking around, aftermath of the avalanche had left thousands upon thousands of skulls scattered down the hill, throughout the village and across the landscape.
It was a mess, no doubt about it.
Let's just say that Urham's unseen servant would have its work cut out for it!
Upon our return to The Spire, Petunia took the griffin skull and gave us a wand with a charm creature spell embedded within.
Sixteen days passed.
It was time for the giant golden chicken eggs to hatch, so we returned to The Cursed Monastery and went into the chapel's bell tower.
There we found the giant eggs, still safe beneath the still slumbering owlbear. Realising that it would be impossible to charm the chicks with them beneath the owlbear, we moved them from out of the nest and into another chamber.
After waiting patiently for a while, the eggs began to show signs of hatching. We left only Urham and Egbert in the chamber. When the eggs did finally hatch and the giant chicks emerged, one each 'imprinted' on Urham and Egbert.
Urham got the hen.
Egbert got the cock.
When we took them into the courtyard and under the sky, the giant cock began to chirp loudly and distinctly.
We heard distant thunder.
Looking into the now darkening sky, we could see clouds rushing to gather above us, beginning to blot out the sun. The thunder continued, it was closer now and stranger too, almost like rumbling words being spoken?
This was not a good sign. It was decided that we should teleport somewhere safe and far away. Milo's tower was safe and far away.
Egbert's teleportation circle took all of us there, even the owlbear.
Milo was somewhat surprised to see us, but remained unflustered. We told Milo of our predicament and he explained that he could not help us and this was our problem to solve.
Milo continued that a battle against the giant would be a mighty challenge, perhaps beyond us. We might have to try and negotiate with the giant.
But we would need to negotiate from a position of strength.
We considered our position and devised a plan. After all this, the owlbear was still sleeping. We asked Milo to wake it so we could cast charm creature on it. When we had control of the owlbear, we had Milo put us aboard a magic carpet and teleport us back to The Cursed Monastery.
The sky was thick with clouds and the silhouetted outline of the giant castle could just about be discerned.
From the flying carpet, we could see that the giant was beginning to materialise above the town.
Randulf mounted the owlbear and they leapt off the magic carpet and flew towards the giant.
As the giant finished materialising, Randulf pulled the gorgon head from out of its sack and held it before the giant.
Randulf almost felt the head tremble as it worked its cursed magic.
We could all see the giant now as it transformed from flesh to stone. It broke up into a thousand pieces and fell to earth in a massive rockfall.
The giant was defeated!
The realisation dawned on us that they cloud castle was now empty - save for the giant chicken.
It was our castle now.
The skies became calmer now that the giant was vanquished, the storm clouds evaporated into nothingness and the thunder faded into memory.
Clear blue was the sky and glorious was the sunlight which blazed warmly upon us as we flew towards the castle.
The castle which hung in the sky and sat on a foundation of purest white cotton clouds. It's tall spires gleamed brilliantly as every window and tile reflected the shining sun and pennants danced in the breeze.
As we landed in the cobbled courtyard, we knew our days of adventure and hardship were behind us.
We had come a long way from first wandering into little Boburn and heading off to rescue Brenda the cow, but a new bright path beckoned us - that of our new home. A place where we would be comfortable and secure - and wealthy too, thanks the giant chicken that laid golden eggs!
Along with our friends and companions; Brenda the prize winning cow, Glenda the horse and Roland, Roderick, Roger and Rory. It was here that we spent the rest of our days.
Urham, Egbert the Undecided, Randulf Rawhide and I, Cosmo Naught.
'In Darkest Warrens' turned out to be a fun and unobtrusive system. It proved an excellent choice when we were learning to play our first ever sessions over video chat. Light and flexible, we easily picked it up as we are all experienced role players.
I'd like thank Matakishi for creating and running these adventures. As well as rolling with some of our more... interesting ideas.
I'd like to thank Michaela, Mark and Kevin for their fine companionship.
25th May 2020
We had skipped Sunday and it was a bank holiday Monday. I was sitting in front of my laptop in my living room and today is time for Matt's 50 Fathoms campaign.
I made my excuses to go to the 'gone to the toilet'. Instead I took the opportunity to explore the upper part of the house. Unfortunately, this yielded nothing.
Before returning downstairs, I ensured that the window in the bathroom was left open a sliver, so we could use it to sneak back in later.
Upon returning to the party I saw that it was beginning to 'wind up' and the guests were beginning to leave.
Soon, other than Bruno and his entourage and us, only a few other people were were remaining. We could not help but notice that they were all good looking.
At this time, the guards retired for the night and we were all led to a different room.
And what a different room it was!
There were drugs laid out on the table like food for a banquet.
There was a copious amount of alcohol here, including a wine fountain!
There were even numerous 'ladies of the night' present.
Bruno and his friends did not hesitate at indulging themselves in the debauchery.
Bruno himself immediately consumed a large amount of narcotics.
Several people, including Baxter simply dipped their faces into the wine fountain.
I restrained myself and watched from a quiet corner.
Meanwhile; Shia began to flirt with one of Bruno's friends, 'Francisco Valorez'. Shia convinced Francisco to show her around the house.
Francisco took Shia into a side room, just off the room we were in.
It was well decorated with an expansive bed as the room's centrepiece. Shia noticed that on all four walls, there were the dark outlines of numerous weapons such as swords and pistols that once hung on the walls here against the faded wallpaper.
Shia asked about the weapons and Francisco explained that they had been auctioned off. Shia expressed an interest in buying one, but according to Francisco, they had all already been auctioned off
Shia looked carefully at the outlines and spotted one that might match the description of the sword we were looking for.
Meanwhile, in the main room, Bruno was emerging from his drug fuelled stupor. Regaining his wits somewhat, he suddenly grabbed an unaware woman, threw her over his shoulder and lurched for the same door Shia had gone through.
As I made for Bruno, I saw several of his friends turn their heads towards him with looks of contempt. I had hoped to reach him before he reached the door, but I was not quick enough, Baxter followed behind me.
Bruno opened the door, saw Shia and Francisco and shouted at them to 'Get out!'. Francisco looked taken aback, meanwhile, Shia sat on the bed suggestively.
Francisco looked around and was confused, he took his leave as Baxter and I entered. Baxter closed the door behind him
Quickly I stepped forward gripping my dagger, then with the hilt I thumped Bruno on the back of the head. He slumped to the ground, unconscious. I picked up the hapless woman and explain that it seems that Bruno had slipped and knocked his head. She was angry and distressed, but we convinced her to leave the room.
I searched Bruno and I found a key and a metallic disc. The disc was the size of a coin, one side was entirely smooth and the other has some sort of pattern inscribed into it.
When I picked up Bruno to put him on the bed, I noticed beneath the bed there was a circular indentation in the floor.
We hefted the bed to one side and could see that the indentation matched the size of the metal disc. There was also a strange pattern in the indentation, possibly similar to the disc.
I put the disc into the indentation with the patterned side down. Nothing happened? We rotated the coin and there was a 'click', a hidden compartment in the floor popped open!
Searching it revealed a stash of coin, a strange compass and a book, a cursory glance revealed it was Byron's journal!
As I was occupied with the compartment, Shia quietly poisoned Bruno, who after a few seconds convulsed violently, before becoming still...
Shia left the room and spoke to Bruno's friends, she stated that she knew about medicine and it looked like Bruno had suffered an attack or an 'aneurysm' and had tragically passed away. It was quite convincing.
Bruno's friends did not seem too unhappy or concerned, they certainly did not push the matter with Shia and thanked her for her efforts!
What remained of the party now began to disperse. No doubt, rumours would begin to fly through Baltimus soon enough.
A carriage was summoned for us and we returned to the docks and our ships for the remainder of the night.
Late as it was, I spent the next two hours reading through Byron's journal.
For the most part the journal starts of as you might expect. But over time, it becomes darker and darker. Over this time his handwriting also deteriorates significantly.
Byron talks of his regret at the killing of the three Mallus sisters; Mala, Maka and Mana. Who were sentenced to death for killing their sister Mara - for 'dark reasons'.
By this time, the handwriting had become illegible, but I managed to discern one final reference; to the island of 'Sprith'.
On the next day at the break of day, we saw Manny Morkon rowing out to our ships. The news of Bruno's demise had reached him and he had come to thank Shia.
Morkon came aboard and handed over the sword Versalis that he promised.
In return, Shia gives her share of the coin that we 'liberated' from Bruno's house to Morkon and his daughter.
It seemed to us that a weight had been lifted off the man as he rowed away in the dawn light.
We unwrapped the sword and examined it.
The detailing on the hilt and crosspiece was ornate and exquisite. It depicted a map of the world before 'the flood'. It wass also inlaid with numerous jewels and precious stones.
Next however, we need to find the 'Sword of Amemnus'. Byron's journay had hinted at the island of Sprith.
23rd May 2020
It's a Saturday evening in front of my laptop in my living room. This can only mean that it's time for another session of Matakishi's 'In Darkest Warrens' game.
Finally, following sidetrack after sidetrack; we had at last arrived at Darkholme.
Our arrival was not what you would consider a low key affair.
Spontaneously materialising within a blazing teleportation circle in the centre of a bustling market square and accompanied by a demon admittedly caused some people to flee. There was however; not a riot - despite our appearance.
So all in all, a restrained response.
Now that we were in Darkholme, we needed to find some gainful employment.
No doubt the caravan that had been advertising vacancies for guards had long since departed. We were at a loss as to what to next.
After asking some questions, It turned out that the market we were in was named 'The Dirt Market'. The market could only take place here when the ground is muddy!
It was traditional. Backward, but traditional.
The market was open for business. Thus the ground was indeed muddy. Luckily it was raining. On closer inspection, it was only raining on The Dirt Market, the rest of Darkholme was dry? Apparently town council had gone to great lengths to ensure that conditions would always be acceptable for The Dirt Market.
Backward, but traditional.
After asking some questions in The Dirt Market about drinking establishments, we had been given two recommendations. 'Fiddler's Quarrel' and 'Hollyleaf Inn'
Fiddler's Quarrel had been described as: 'A shabby tavern where ruffians go to
drown their sorrows and fight each other.'
Randulf considered this a most agreeable description, so Fiddler's Quarry is was!
Fiddler's Quarry was indeed shabby, as well as loud and bawdy, with shady looking clientèle throughout.
We sat and ordered drinks, noticing guards on both sides of a back door. Even with the din of the tavern, we could hear voices above it all from beyond that door.
Perhaps it was some sort of private function: The noise and the bustle meant curiosity got the better of us and we tried to gain entry, but the guards rebuffed us.
Our inquiries about the back room were met with tight lipped silence.
We briefly considered muscling our way in, but in the end; it wasn't worth our effort.
Returning to the bar, we chatted with the barkeep. He was having a bad luck with the rats in his basement. Who had ever heard of such a thing?
The barkeep agreed to pay us a hundred gold to deal with the rat problem. Randulf was keen to investigate, he had not stretched his mighty thews in a while.
Descending into the basement we noticed it was quite dark with something that looked like a fire light casting deep shadows across the entire basement? Investigating further we discovered it was actually a camp fire!
Sitting around this camp fire were three rat-men and they appeared to be cooking food!
We spoke with the rat-men and they explained that the barkeep had agreed to pay them one hundred gold pieces if they came down into the basement and dealt with the rat problem here.
This was starting to sound familiar...
The rat-m/en continued explaining that once they had completed the task, the barkeep refused to pay. Stating that, 'They had done the job too quickly.'.
So the rat-men had decided to stay in the basement and live here until they had eaten one hundred gold pieces worth of food and drink from the barrels here.
Looking around, the basement was filled with barrels of exotic foods and drinks.
We could not see any rats here, so we asked the rat-men and they said there were none, they also pointed out a secret door to us!
The secret door led to a tunnel, which we followed until it reached an elevator that only went up.
Riding the elevator took us up and into some sort of deserted brewery. It was filled with long abandoned and rusted brewing apparatus. The barrels were empty of beer and full of cobwebs.
We exited the brewery into what appeared to be the courtyard of a monastery, also deserted.
The courtyard was covered in bones, both animal and human. A quick investigation revealed signs that a very large creature had been moving amongst the bones, perhaps a bear?
There was a cloister that ringed the ghoulish courtyard and led to a chapel.
Upon entering, we found the chapel floor covered in a number of giant feathers? There was little else of interest here, so we made for the bell tower.
The way up was blocked by a giant nest! Casting a fly spell, Urham flew up the outside of the bell tower and entered from there.
In the giant nest Urham found a strange dormant creature, part bear... and part owl?
A bearowl?... No an owlbear!
The owlbear was hibernating and Urham had left it undisturbed.
We considered our next move. It was likely the owlbear was responsible for the demise of the victims in the courtyard. But it was now hibernating and was currently a threat no one. Attacking it felt like an unnecessary risk, so we left it be.
The rest of the monastery was unremarkable and we returned to the Fiddler's Quarrel and the barkeep.
We explained to the barkeep that there were no rats in the basement. He claimed that when he had said 'rat problem', it was the rat-men he was talking about. He didn't want to pay them because they had done their job too quickly and he had wanted us to 'deal' with them, following that of course, he then refused to pay us too!
Then we asked the barkeep what he knew about the monastery. It was known as 'The Cursed Monastery' and was home to a dragon. Interesting!
During this conversation, talk turned to some place called 'The Spire'. which was apparently home to a 'elf-wizard'.
Next, we asked about boarding for the night and the barkeep informed us that Fiddler's Quarrel was full.
The only choice now was Hollyleaf Inn, hopefully it would have some rooms free.
Hollyleaf Inn was much more upmarket; it was clean and it was civil. Most importantly, it had rooms available and an extensive menu too boot.
I ordered 'Wenna's Mushroom Surprise' and 'Scone Of The Day'.
Urham meanwhile, ordered some 'Moonshine'. As she was drinking it, the barkeep explained that it was distilled by the 'Biletongue Goblins' of 'Halfmoon Forest'.
I asked Urham, "So, you've just eaten goblin food? Right?". Urham's expression said everything that needed saying in the conversation about this particular subject.
Sleep beckoned and we retired to our rooms for the night. There was no peaceful slumber or respite for me though.
I woke in the middle of the night and stared at the ladder in my room. I didn't remember there being any ladder in my room? The ladder went up through the ceiling and into what I surmised was the attic. I went to the ladder and looked up, it continued through the attic and up out of the building?
I woke the others and showed them the ladder. We had no idea where it might lead, but we decided to collect our gear and go wherever it led.
Well, we would go once Urham had also collected some extra moonshine for the journey.
Climbing the ladder took us out of the Hollyleaf Inn and up into the night sky. Up through the clouds and eventually on to the clouds.
Our ascent ended with us standing on a landscape composed entirely of cloud, in the distance we could see a castle also standing on cloud. There was nothing else on the horizon, so we made for the castle.
It was a strange journey, eerily quiet with a clear night sky above and bright clouds beneath our feet!
After a while, we realised that it was no ordinary castle that we were approaching. It was a giant castle.
The giant castle had a giant drawbridge which was raised. There was no way we could lower it. Instead we used a mixture of fly spells and rope to get past it.
We were now in the courtyard, the buildings and castle walls towered above us unbelievably. There was light shining out of the highest windows of the keep.
From the courtyard we managed to sneak into a building and it turned out it was the dining hall. We were forced to hide when we heard and felt booming footsteps approach. A giant came into the room, he sat down and had something to eat before getting up and leaving.
Once the giant had left, we came out of hiding and began to quietly explore the castle. Our exploration led to the kitchen and pantry. Other than massive foodstuffs, there was nothing of interest in these rooms.
Next we came across a bedroom, the snoring was immense, it seemed to vibrate the very air!
Looking around, at the foot of the bed was a sleeping giant chicken. We knew what this might mean and cautiously investigated the chicken.
There were indeed giant golden chicken eggs here! We had to have one! There was a problem though, none of us were particularly good at thievery. We did not want to risk waking the giant. Who among us was going to steal the egg?
In the end, our solution was for Urham to cast unseen servant and use it to get an egg. It was successful, so we tried for a second egg, that too was a success.
We decided against going for a third egg and thought it a good time to leave. We crossed the cloudy landscape to return to the ladder and back to the Hollyleaf Inn. It was a bit tricky navigating the ladder with a pair of giant eggs, but we managed it.
It was now very late and the night was taking its toll on us, we all returned to our rooms for some well deserved sleep.
Morning came and warm sunlight blazed through gaps in the curtains. I lay there shielding my eyes, contemplating last night's vivid dream and then came to the conclusion: No more 'Wenna's Mushroom Surprise' before bed, who knows what's in the mushroom or what the surprise is!
I sat up and looked at the two giant golden chicken's eggs in my room!
I immediately went and spoke to the others and told them about the giant golden eggs. They looked at me blankly!
I dragged them to my room and pointed the eggs. The blank stares continued.
Even though only I remembered the events of last night, we could all agree that the eggs were at least real.
Next we had to decide what to do with them, the general consensus was that we should try to hatch them. It would require a very large bird to do this. There was one choice...
Before our journey back to the Cursed Monastery, Urham went and got some more moonshine for the trip. Then we were off.
Back at the bell tower, the owlbear was still hibernating.
Even though these were giant eggs, I managed to place them beneath the sleeping creature without disturbing it. In twenty one days, the eggs would hatch and we would need to be here, to manage the chicks and the owlbear.
Regardless of this: when the owlbear woke from its slumber, it would be in for quite the surprise!
Safely back at the Hollyleaf Inn, we looked on with a mixture of bemusement and trepidation as Urham guzzled down more moonshine like it was going out of fashion.
We knew that things could not remain this way: We knew it required another trip to the Goblin Market to get a cure, but we did not know what price we might have to pay.
There was a discussion and we agreed on an alternate approach. We had heard that there was a wizard of sorts at The Spire. Perhaps they could help us?
The Spire was a rickety and unstable looking place. At the base there was a bell pull, so we rung it.
It was answered by an elven woman who leads us to a waiting room.
We are the introduced to the elven wizard who is known as 'Petunia Rootlocks'.
We discussed Urham's situation with Petunia and a deal was struck. Petunia would provide us with the cure for Urham and we would provide Petunia with a 'manticore tail'.
Wait.... a manticore tail?
Petunia went on to explain that 'luckily' for us, a manticore could be found in the Halfmoon Forest.
Petunia then told us to wait while she went to the Goblin Market to get the cure. Half and hour later Petunia returned with the cure and gave it to Urham. Petunia also taught Urham a cure poison spell, which would no doubt prove useful in the coming battle.
Upon arrival at Halfmoon Forest, I searched for manticore tracks. These led us to its lair, we had been cautiously approaching and could see that it was entirely distracted by the hapless dead goblin it was feasting on.
Urham cast invisibility on Randulf and I used my Bow of invisibility. This allowed us to approach and ambush the manticore.
After our opening attacks wounded it, the manticore took to the air and out Randulf's reach. It proceeded to pepper the area with poisonous barb attacks and then fled out of the clearing. Luckily I could still pursue and attack with my bow. Urham and Randulf also gave chase on foot, Urham cast a hold person spell on it and it crashed to the ground.
Randulf charged in as the manticore shook off the effects of Urham's spell. The two of them exchanged mighty blows, but the manticore still stood, as did Randulf who had not succumbed to the manticore's poison, both of them were in a bad way Though.
Before their battle could draw to a bloody conclusion, Urham cast smite on the manticore and killed it.
We took the tail and any other parts of the creature that might prove useful or valuable.
Returning to The Spire, we handed the tail over to Petunia, she was also happy to buy the other parts of the manticore we had bought with us.
Our deal was complete.
But perhaps there was a new deal to be struck with Petunia.
We knew that when the giant eggs hatched there would probably be an issue with the the owlbear or the giant chicks or both. Perhaps Petunia could help with this? We asked Petunia if she knew of any spells that could be used with animals such as these.
Petunia agreed to help us, but of course we had to help her in return, so we agreed.
Petunia told us that we must travel to 'Death Valley' and discover what was killing people.
The only thing we had heard about Death Valley was: 'Probably a misnomer. A picnic area popular with courting couples'.
Petunia went on to elaborate:
People have been dying of the most ridiculous causes.
Being stung to death by bees
Falling down a hole and disappearing.
Or simply dropping dead!
The final thing Petunia told us was that this only seems to affect 'single' people and 'couples' are unaffected.
Death Valley was just outside of Darkholme and seemed a pleasant little spot. A shallow babbling stream winds its gentle way through the valley and we could see various picnicking couples enjoying themselves.
Nice enough, but we were on our guard. We spotted a single man and as we did so, he fell over!
We sprinted over and found he was already dead? An examination of his body revealed that he had bled to death after pricking himself on a rose!
We began looking for a potential cause when Urham tripped over on a root and broke her neck.
Acting instantly, Egbert cast a heal spell on Urham and even though she didn't immediately regain consciousness, the spell saved her life.
Death Valley it turns out, could be deadly place. We beat a hasty retreat!
Returning to Darkholme, we went looking for sellers of lucky charms and luck potions. We found one such seller; 'Pendolin Washer'. It was rumoured that he was cursed to vanish during any full moon.
Considering Pendolin's current predicament, I questioned the value of the items he was selling.
So, anyway. Once these pieces of luck based paraphernalia had been bought, it was back to Death Valley and a deadly mystery to solve!
Upon our return, Death Valley seemed it's typical idyllic and tranquil self.
Whilst watching the valley, I spotted an unusual looking plant and investigated. I managed to snap my hand back before it was stung by a strange looking centipede of sorts.
Egbert had heard some weird giggling coming from a nearby bush, he immediately hurled a smite spell at it.
Searching the bush revealed a dead pixie wearing a strange red hat within. With further investigation we discovered that it was not a normal red hat, it was caked in blood! The pixie's hat had been dipped in blood.
It was a redcap!
Now that we knew what we were looking for, I found the redcap's tracks and followed.
The tracks led us to an copse. Amongst the trees were a large grouping of toadstools.
The toadstools all had little doors on them.
We set these toadstools on fire and a dozen redcaps angrily emerged.
We issued them an ultimatum: "Leave the valley, go far away and never return!".
One of the redcaps wore a top hat instead of a grisly cap and was clearly their leader, he stepped forward and ordered the redcaps to attack.
Quick as a flash, Randulf pulled the gorgon's head out if it's sack and pointed it at the redcaps.
Immediately, ten of them turned to stone and the remaining two were dispatched before they could turn their lethal spells on us.
"These." said Randulf happily as he scooped the petrified redcaps into a sack. "Will fetch a good price as garden gnomes at the market!".
Back at The Spire, Petunia was pleased at the outcome.
Randulf gifted Petunia with one of his gnomes, but Petunia insisted on paying for it.
Finally Petunia taught the mages the charm creature spell.
We were ready for the hatching of the giant golden chicken eggs!
I play, I paint.