Monday, November 23, 2009
The Expeditionary Journal of Xarnagan Vrokk: The Man Who Fell from the Sky and Other Important Events
This day finds us in nary a better place than the last. This misty valley is starting to wear on us. Our faith in Hobab has been stifled and shuttered out, as near as our spirits will allow. I scribe this as he and Vroomish argue relentlessly over the most viable option of securing proper positioning for the night. I care not where we rest our hapless heads as long as it is a dry place! Kalervo the cactoid, sensing Vroomish's plans to be the most practical, stomps past me now, his sodden and swollen limbs thudding through the moss claiming he can smell the nearest dryness. In fact, I do believe he has....
Ah yes. Now, a fire I do find in front of me, and a soggy bottom behind. As the night darkens around us, I am now making out the curious and ominous glow of that invidious Stain there in the sky above. Well, at least we now know what direction we are facing. My goodness, a spent sage am I. To the ground I pledge my body for to slumber, to the stars I send my mind to ramble!
I have bird blood on my hands. I do believe I have stained this page now with more than memory. The following events have proven mildly fortuitous, and most effectually stimulating for the faculties. Oh, the remarkable and peculiar events I have observed!
Nowhere better to put your foot than first ahead, followed by the other.
We begin as we last found us, by the fire, only this time morning, our heads smelling of cinder and our eyes feeling like cooked coal. In a moment of inspiration to raise our spirits Vroomish offered us all some of his special spiced Brandy, which was most appealing. This fore-suredly allowed our souls to rise to yet another sun, and another day of Hobab claiming he could find this, as of yet unclaimed, rocket-ship full of riches. Oh, the energy weapons he claims we could all possess! I know I am not a particularly violent man, but I can respectfully say I would not turn down the chance to use an energy weapon in order to warm myself by a Hobab-shaped fire come this next eve.
Gathering ourselves together we set off for higher ground in hopes of a better view of our situation. We find after some time we are indeed ascending, something. Not long after, the mist clears, and we see we are definitely climbing a goodly foothill of the Bornites. It was then that a most curious humming and thrumming was heard from above. A large bird-shaped Ornithopter screamed over our heads and disappeared higher up the hill. With a resounding explosion, and a rather brilliant blast of orange, the machine dug its grave in the hillside. Scrambling as we could toward the craft, we began to see it contained the forms of two beings. Upon further inspection one was indeed alive. Tangled in the frontice-piece of the brass-bird vehicle, slumped amongst the mesh, was a Zermish man with a rather conical helmet. Being bruised and battered as he was, Vroomish ran up to him with a brimming cup of brandy only to be knocked away by the bone-man Dickie Dee. The Dee, clacking his oddly prominent jaw, insisted that the fallen one be tended to first, then have his vitals restored by brandy. Once roused by such means the man identified himself as Thragg, the Sky Man. A confused look seemed to permeate the man's demeanor (most likely a knock on the head jostled his interior files. I reckon he will return to his full faculties in a few days and be able to recall how abouts he landed in such a fashion here on this now haunted hillside), and he continually clutched to his spear. Fiercely.
Not long after this we are rewarded to see that we are up the side of a mountain proper. That unforgettable shifting and shimmering luster of bornite greeted us once again. With this clear, mistless view Hobab now claimed he could see markings in the distance that alerted him to the fact that we were most likely but ten miles away from the fabled rocket ship of scientific systems and potent paraphernalia. In our best interest, we camp here several nights, regaining our strength. During this time I witnessed a rarity among civilized men, I spied the Cactoid Man removing his spines. Yes, realizing the unmentionable monstrosities we could face in returning to this Mist Valley, Kalervo took out his dagger and scraped each and every spine off of his central trunk. It seemed the Cactoid had come to realize, as painful a procedure as it is, perchance it might be a wiser thing to don the armored metal of other men. The nights passed like sylvan nymph glands melting in a crucible: dark, slow, and uncomfortably poignant. On our final dawn on the mountainside we drew up our packs and noted a strange look in Hobab's eyes. Gritting our teeth we had not much choice but to follow the piebald mountain man; our eyes the sharpest things besides our daggers.
We descended quickly and made our way back into the valley. Hours past as we trudged through the familiar damp. However, we spotted a structure in the distance. Excitedly, I ran toward it, all the while the beckoning howl of Buzz Brazelhatch berating my back. Apparently I must ask permission before making my leave of the other men? Pah! I am a steward of my own substantive self, my dearest. My haste was pleasurably rewarded. The structure was large, black, sturdy, and yet age had it crumbling. Hexagonal structures erupted from the nucleus of the black beast. I studied the stones and laughed out loud, startling a beetle perched on a nearby branch. Yes, this was most likely a construct of an Elder Race!
With great excitement, I and the party entered the stronghold. For many an hour we passed through a long tunnel, the only way we saw possible to go in this now known entrance to the Elder stronghold. After we began to question our whereabouts, we were soon rewarded by the glint of sunlight... and a roar to shake the guts of the stoutest dwarf! We exited the tunnel and found our persons in the presence of a psychic, and most likely mutant, Psyclops! Yes, we had left the uncertain darkness of the tunnel and found ourselves out in the open and face to face with a creature of unspeakable power. It shrieked as it leapt from the shadows and jerkily lurched toward us. As it crossed the open air atrium before us we gasped in horror as it fixed its remarkable eye on Hobab!
Screaming in unearthly tones the Hobab clutched at his face while blood spurted from his multiple cranial orifices. Tssk. Rotten luck, that Hobab. Seeing this grotesque sight stirred the rest of the members to a quick skirmish of the beast. In an arcing style, rounding several collapsed pillars, the party engaged the one-eyed terror. Hobab at this time stumbled back into the tunnel and clutched at his Nguamodon. Seeing a possibility, I decided to try my chances of running the Nguamodon through the sea of battle and perchance leap from the beast to strike at the Psyclops. Only, I had not counted on the finicky squirmishness of these reptilian steeds. As I leapt upon its pack-laden back, it lurched and hissed, turning in circles. Doing my best to reign in the beast, it fought my every command and immediately started running down the tunnel; away from the battle did it take me, the light growing dim behind. I was told later, once I returned, tame beast in tow, that it was the mighty deed of Monster Monagin and Buzz that brought the psionic cyclops to its knees. In respectful remembrance, they took its eye one and its horn the other. How they intend to wash the blood of that being out of their traveling clothes I do wonder!
We decided to camp. I excitedly waited until morn to further peruse these structures. It was then I heard Buzz telling Vroomish of a night vision of snake men. It was then I happily declared to the party that we had discovered a fortress of the Once Great Serpent Men of Old!
It was at this time that Kal-mor, the Hyperborean, was seen up the wall, looking out over the ley of land. We all came to realize that most likely we are ourselves presently on the path towards a quite powerful crypt of the undead. Complete with Wizards, both living and re-animate. Unphased, and with this news fresh in his ears and blood freshly wiped from his eyes, Hobab tied up the giant pack lizards to a column and we continued on through the fortress, this time taking the right hand path and paying no heed to tales of the undead. Another hallway seemed to open up along the far side of this open air atrium and we did indeed take it. It was along this path that I spied something curious. There was indeed, there in the wall a hidden door! I do say, however, how could these Elders have thought such an obvious portal to remain in the unknow'n? There are days I'm not sure how advanced they really were. Fascinating in every sense!
A downward tunnel did greet us as we ventured further through this forbidden foyer. After several whiles had passed did we see a pink glow in the distance. Our eyes failed to register that they were seeing a thing of truth before them. We stepped out of our tunnel and into a large and liberally stocked laboratory. Pools of glowing substance were pitted about the place, tubes and technological devices of all sorts spanned from ceiling to floor. After our eyes adjusted, Vroomish spotted a creature bow legged and bent at one of the wondrous works. It was then that Kal-Mor decided to sneak away and try and harm the thing.
Coming upon its back he thrust his knife in, only to see the thing dumbly lurch around and fumbling, attack at him with a metal club. Seeing this small-faced, drooling, pig of a creature he ran back to us, the pig-skinned-thing stumbling on its own drool and falling face toward metal floor. The party decided to attack this pig creature (whom after inspection, did reveal to me to be most likely some sort of necromantic construct of this place, a "Vat Man" if you will), and I allowed myself the time to wander and peruse the contents of this vast laboratory. Such strange machinery, such engineering that is beyond my present scope! I took this time to make a few sketches in my notes here. Perhaps someday I can bring this back to Agog for a proper schematic session.
It was during this time of wandering that two fortuitous events happened. Buzz gallantly chopped off the Vat Man's head, and I found a shelf full of splendid things! Yes, my nostrils are attuned to the titillating tang of tomes, my friends! For, I spied across the room a large shelf full of books. I hurriedly scampered towards them; once again the cacophonous call of the Brazelhatch alerting me to danger. Of what? A papercut? A villainous book-worm, awaiting for some wanderer to attempt to peruse it's palace of pages only to infect them with untold terror-sprays? Pah! and Bah! Doubled.
I was however mildly miffed when my outstretched hand did caress that first cover and in a puff see it crumble to powder before my eyes. Elder Tomes. To be expected. It was when the dust settled however that to my delighted surprise I surveyed several other objects, of much lasting substance, upon the dust spotted shelves. I will describe them here briefly, as I cannot at present clearly read the inscriptions laid upon them: One, a green tablet of magic writing (certainly!); another a tiny black monolith with strange and interesting script; thirdly a silver disk with strange inscription, and finally an amber crystal orb with well placed glyphs and runes. I dare say, by Thoggyu, these hidden gems are certainly that!
Seeing no other means of exploring the area it is decided to head back. Up and out we went, leaving this ancient fortress of the Elder Serpent Men behind for perhaps another time. Indeed. It was glorious to see. As we once again forayed into the Valley, Hobab tried to persuade us towards the "fallen ship" once more. Now with sober heads, Hobab was silenced and it was agreed that the only thing we should proceed towards is the snugness and safety of an Inn in Jakay!
Our journey then was most pleasurable. For the most part. There, just before we seemed to be crossing into a pass along the mountainside, a curious flutter was heard above. Raptors! Yes, hawks with scale covered heads descended upon us. We each reacted in kind. All of us began madly striking the sky with our weapons, attempting to slay these sudden air-borne enemies. The terrifying squawks and screams rattled in our ears. Then, their corpses began to litter the ground. As I parried and struck above us, slaying a few of the creatures, my hands became rather soiled with their foul thick blood. The battle was ended with a final flourish, Vroomish brought down the last of the creatures with a hiss of his pistol. It was at this moment that Dickie Dee snickered as he watched me wiping my bloodied hands in the scrub grass.
To not much avail I must say, these pages are looking rather the same tone as that piggish Vat Man. Now, to perhaps find a puddle to wash in and get that green tablet read...