Nierest's Journal - Session 4
Artifact hunting under the stars.
We explored the dome chambers. There were a series of chambers each with a clear domed ceiling above. The stars were very bright and interesting. I’ve never taken the time to look at them before but they are more than just pinpricks of light up there. Outside the dome is a lot of pale blue rock. I wonder what it is.
In the second dome we entered there was a machine on the far side of it. After seeing nothing of particular interest in the rest of the room I made my way to this machine. There was a large button that was incontrovertibly positioned to be pushed. With a glance at Skylar I nudged the desirous consummator of the apparatus. A multitudinous jangle of sound attended by a clarion call of tinging simplicity articulated the arrival of a gelatinous cubic mass that quivered with reticent browness.
As I considered the outcome Tuck and Shiro arrived to provide a meritorious agency of action. I gesticulated toward the brown coagulation and Tuck provided a solution to my deliberations. Tuck ate the secretion and announced it to taste, “brown,” and to be quite filling. With such easing of mind I repeatedly pressed the button five times and tucked away the resulting mucilaginous cubes of nourishment into my pouch. Skylar mimicked my performance followed by a rather enthusiastic Tuck whose continuous poking of the button exhausted the machine after ten deliverances of sustenance gobs.
Leaving the defunct apparatus to spew forth a continual sludge we made our way into the other chambers. A small metal disc followed us as we reconnoitred the facility. Tuck cheerfully hounded the floating plate for some time but was unable to capture it. I donned my visor and turned it on, with the crucial premonition of impending transit I was able to grip the device and relinquish it to Tuck. Tuck strained to hold onto it as I examined it but unfortunately Tuck lost his grip and it flew off before I could ascertain what it was. Shortly thereafter a second metal disc joined it in shadowing our every move.
We sighted a large circular door with a spiral of metal sleeves forming the boundary. A set of five masks attached to canisters reposed next to the aperture. We discerned that the masks assisted in breathing so we each strapped one on with Tuck carrying the spare and then approached the tendrillar hatch. As it opened the air deadened so we put on the masks and left the dome for the blue surface.
The sensation of walking upon that blue rock was remarkable. It was as if I weighed almost nothing and each step sent me surging forward with barely any effort. As we almost floated across the cerulean landscape I picked up a rock and then proceeded to the dome structure looming forlornly ahead. A familiar metal hatch provided access into the dome.
By this time we had four accompanying hovering discs. They swept past us and into the dome even as we entered. The discs flew to the center of the chamber and began to spin rapidly. With the portal shut behind us air flooded the chamber and was sent into a tumultuous whirlwind focused at the heart of the vault. A large sphere descended gracefully from the ceiling and hovered at the focal point of the whirlwind when, suddenly, the coruscating discs collapsed into it. The sphere broke apart, segments tumbling outwards revealing a huge arachnid form. The beast was an alarming joining of synth, metal, and organic spider mass. Fearsome spikes erupted from its bulbous abdomen while a glistening pair of mandibles ripped outwards from its monstrous head. There is a remarkable note to mention: this heinous behemoth can be found in my deck of creatures. A skull-like mark adorns the card for good reason.
I shouted greetings even as we arranged for battle. The misshapen beast did not disappoint and a tremendous struggle ensued. Tuck was hit by a red beam of light that seemed to immediately exhaust him. His movements were severely impeded as the heroic encounter raged. Shiro valiantly leaped onto the back of hideous fiend thereby distracting it during our savage war. We managed to defeat this abominable spider and as its acidic spittle etched pools of corruption upon the pristine floor we tended to our numerous injuries.
With perhaps a tad more vigour than necessary the offensive corpse was eviscerated and dissected. We discovered a jar within the confines of its hollow abdomen and Tuck salvaged something from the eye of the beast. The jar was a beautiful artifact that would preserve indefinitely any plant placed within. Since the jar already contained an exquisitely beautiful flower I passed it on to Skylar. Unfortunately, this is likely to be the artifact the projection wanted.
We returned to the main structure by traversing the low weight landscape moving with the solemn poise of the victorious. Wihin we opened the door into what appears to have been a storage room. There we discovered a few cyphers and took some time to compose and relax. I entered a restful state and contemplated upon the recent events. Here, wherever here is as it certainly is not our home land, I have found my link to the nanites to be weakened. As my mind reaches and grasps to control its environs I have realized something – if I focus in a certain manner I can force a result similar to what I’ve been observing in our travels. I look forward to testing this out on an appropriate subject.
As we made our way to the exit of this structure we realized we had missed one dome. Skylar and I immediately took the passage to check it out. I was not too impressed by what was within – plants. Lots of plants. I think Skylar gathered up a few but I had already turned back to make my way to the exit.
An artifact found. An artifact lost.
We traveled back to the Gtharren crystal. Skylar presented the jar to the projection. In return, he told us that we could take one piece of the crystal. In our rush to claim our prize we may have inadvertently taken more than one shard. Tuck managed to grab one first while Shiro and I were just behind.
I don’t know exactly what happened since all I recall is a tremendous force throwing me into the air slamming me back against the canyon wall where the brutal impact immediately caused me to lose consciousness. As I regained my senses I found a lovely, although ineffectual, bandage upon my arm of all places and a concerned looking Skylar peering down at me.
Skylar had in her hand the purple shard. I groggily reached out for it and I could sense her palpable reluctance to accept the assistance in figuring out what it was. I think that if I was anyone else she would have refused but because of our shared paths in the past and that artifact waiting she overcame her natural hesitation. Together we studied the artifact and as we did so I heard voices in my mind explaining what it was.
It was like a chorus of voices speaking over top of each other in muted whispers all hovering at the edge of my awareness. I held the shard and focused which brought clarity to their whispered instructions. What I held in my hand was an access crystal to the larger knowledge store of the Gtharren crystal. The Gtharren crystal is, indeed, a vault where thousands if not more souls dwell. Touching their minds was invigorating and enlightening.
I told Skylar how to use the crystal and what it did. I think she came to the same epiphany as I: we could use this crystal to identify what the artifact is that remains locked in the underground complex. This might be one of the keys we needed to get at it. Now we just need to find a way to disable the defenses.
With our business at the Gtharren crystal completed we mounted our garthok and made our way towards Wyrfall where we hope to board a ferry and return to Auspar.
The idea of a nation takes shape.
We trekked through the wilds for days heading north to find a road. I am so glad we are traveling with Skylar. She has an uncanny ability to find our destination so we were able to navigate to the road without problem.
At the road we passed by some injured plebeian dressed in tattered clothes. Clearly the insignificant wretch was not worth the effort to investigate and all were in agreement of this irrefutable conclusion as we left the sobbing peasant behind.
We followed the road and noticed a disturbance in the distance. Smoke was rising from a small village near a road junction. We could just make out a fight that was happening. A man in armour that seemed to scintillate with various metallic hues of white was making a show of beating off a group of attackers. As we neared we were able to discern the situation with more clarity.
Tuck was very excited about the white armours but as we neared his excitement was dimmed by a sense of finding a way to turn the situation to our benefit with Thaemor. I could see the struggle raging clearly upon his honest face. That armour and weaponry could be useful but allies are useful too. I was morbidly curious to discover what course of action he would pick so I remained tactfully silent. In the end, his desire and growing ambition won out and he charged the attackers.
Seeing him do so and strike at the first man he could reach I selected the man next to him and exploded him. Skylar’s bolt took out the one Tuck had ripped open which left two. Shiro tried something as he charged forward on his garthok, I’m not entirely certain what, but he didn’t seem to have much control over the beast and overshot his mark. The two remaining men ran for it to the west.
We approached the man in the interesting gear and Tuck announced himself. I believe I can recite Tuck’s introduction myself should I ever be asked to. The leader of the defenders turned out to be Bren Sarromere. Tuck revealed his understanding of the political situation in Iscobal by asking Bren if the current ruler of Iscobal had usurped his father. Bren was surprised by this insight from someone from Thaemor and said yes, his father had once ruled Iscobar before tiKalloban took it by force.
Bren is attempting to reclaim the lands in his own name. As we were talking, Shiro was taking advantage of the lack of opposition to relieve the dead of their unwanted goods. Shiro was toying with a fine looking dagger he found when Bren seized upon it and showed off the insignia branded upon it. Bren claimed that the attackers were tiKalloban’s men although he had no definitive proof. The dagger he said would not work since forgeries are, apparently, easy to make.
We agreed to provide assistance to Bren in finding proof that the attack was arranged by tiKalloban in return for his future support and a possible alliance. Bren mentioned that his brother was in Ancuan trying to garner support there. That might be problematic later but if we secure Bren’s trust we can deal with that as it happens. It might even lead to a possible opening to strike at Ancuan.
Shiro revealed a brilliant self-serving foresight by giving the villagers a pack full of weapons and miscellaneous junk he had collected. The villagers were duly impressed and grateful to Shiro for this display of “concern” for their well-being. Well done Shiro. The seeds of local support are planted.
We took off out of the village heading west to follow the tracks of those who fled. We spoke at length about the situation and possible outcomes. Skylar was taken by this Bren Sarromere and wants to believe in him claiming that he is a forthright man of dignity and honor. I remain unconvinced but a potential ally in our debt is better than a dead body. Unless that gear of his is of greater value, which it might be considering this Bren Sarromere has very little else to offer, then what appears be a potentially strong claim to the throne.
Conversely, we could turn Bren Sarromere over to tiKalloban if we need to at a later date so I do not mind chasing down these fake bandits. Either way I will make certain that this is turned to our advantage. I will support and encourage Tuck’s ambition and Shiro’s as well. Skylar seems daunted by the idea of building a nation but I know she will come around in time. Myself, the trappings of power have their own appeal but who wants to be the figurehead? Tuck can be that. Shiro can play the admiral or general or whatever he wants to do. Myself, I will settle for the real power, wealth, and influence of a realm. Imagine the knowledge and devices I would gain access to by having thousands doing my bidding. Imagine the gifts I would be given just to listen to claims of the crying wealthy. Yes, this is definitely an ambition I will cultivate.
After some time following the trail we came upon a forest. I still find forests formidable and oppressive. A proper roof over my head is preferable to these fake arches and perforated canopies. These random pillars bursting through the drit and concealing unimaginable pests and villainous beasts behind their every form are unnerving. No, give me predictable alleyways with gloomy shadows where sinister figures lurk in waiting for the perfect ambush. At least there one does not have to worry about tripping over a tree root or whatever those hateful twigs are properly termed as they defile the ground with their dishonest presence.
We entered into the foreboding forest and continued tracking the cowards. Quickly we discerned voices in the distance although the maleficent trees concealed their forms with an obviously gleeful satisfaction. As we caught sight of them in the distance, my companions split up to surround the duo of voices while I remained to block any passage back. While they guided their lumbering garthok through the maze of trees Shiro and Skylar made quite the ruckus. Alerted, the pair of soldiers stopped and went for their weapons.
Tuck darted forward with incredible celerity and struck at one. I focused my energy and struck at the other. I only meant to knock the man out but I might have overestimated his resilience and killed him instead. Oops. Happily, Tuck’s subject was brought down alive.
Shiro tied him up and I approached slowly. Staring directly at the wretched being I ordered him to obey us or else. The else I hadn’t thought up yet but how difficult can it be to think of doing something nasty? Although what could you do to someone on the verge of consciousness, bleeding, and his body battered? I’m not sure. Maybe cut off a hand? But that might kill one in such a miserable state. Thankfully I did not have to think up the or else. The man was visibly frightened by my words so much so that when he looked fearfully back at me I found a way into his mind.
How do I describe what I did when I do not know exactly what I did? I think I mentally bridged the gap between us by following a sultry streak of a muted fuchsia from my eyes to his and beyond. There, I excited the torrid cloud to wrap where I imagined his brain to be. The pain that leapt into his eyes as we stared at one another suggests that I had, unintentionally or not, managed to directly affect his mind. Maintaining eye contact I interrogated our prison.
His name was Jon. His commander on the expedition was the dead man next to him. Oops again. He was normally stationed in Mulen and was commanded to the King’s presence there and personally given the order by the king to attack the village. He was ordered to be discrete and also told to kill no one. The size of the secret attack force was between 15 to 20. I think his uncertainty was caused by the pain, and we had eliminated three of them plus himself.
With that I suggested that we bring him and the corpse back with us to Bren Sarromere so he could use them for his proof. He could parade the soldier around and force him to tell his tale while the additional bodies marked with what appears to be the brand of tiKalloban would reinforce the validity of the story.
My companions are binding Jon to a garthok and strapping the body next to him to the other as I write. I expect the journey back will be unevent… What ARE THOSE?!