Pushing forward, the group went through door at the end of hall; magical lights flickered and dimmed as they entered. The light from Christian’s badge shone across glass and metal baubles scattered around the room. The ceiling was dome-shaped with geometric stone work and shiny metal that both sparkled and glimmered under the beams of their lights. They investigated further. Redden spotted from footprints in single-file with two bigger clumsier creatures masking a number of smaller footprints.
Anatole, studied the shattering pattern of the ancient glass that looked as though it dropped a long time ago. He examined one of the more intact spheres and spoke of theories on divination, farseeing, and prognostication he’s read about. They could be used in auguries by priests and shamans, much like the bird man of Kattegat did with bones and various other less elegant tools.
As he rambled and lectured, nobody noticed that Anatole’s typically stellar luck failed him as a silvery ichor fell from the ceiling and enveloped him completely. Much to his terror as it choked him forced itself into his mouth and nostrils. He coughed out the words “Mercury ooze… poison!” His body struggled to escape, but couldn’t manage. His companions did their best to free him of the thick, silvery slime that was forcing its poison, nay itself into his body. Redden smashed with his war hammer, Christian swung true with his scimitar and shield, Bjorn came down with his battle axe, and Loquar fired his eldritch bolt. In the end, It was Lance’s longsword that finally splattered the creature in Christian’s direction, his raised shield protecting his face from intrusion.
Once free, Anatole was very much shaken and unwell. His skin was pale and veins darkened with mercury. The lyrakien cast cure light wounds and Loquar cast delay poison from the scroll they had found earlier to buy Anatole some time to deal with his affliction. Redden and Christian shared potions of lesser restoration and managed to only slightly remove the damage to the investigator’s constitution and agility. He staggered behind them as they pushed forward, keeping to the relative safety of the group.
They finally got to the western door only to see that it was “broken” in that it didn’t glow nor did it slide open with a proximity or touch. Examination showed scratches above and below the door as if it had previously been moved with brute strength. Bjorn pushed it open with some assistance from Redden and Loquar. The young Reachman noted that light resumed further down the hall, with a strong emanation coming from around a southbound intersection. The group pressed forward to find a door lit up more strongly than those previously encountered. Also of note, were patterns of 5 lines with intersecting bars and circles placed in repeating sequences. It looked like sheet music and Lance instantly recognized the notes of “Let my Love Open the Door” He played the song and the door flashed and dimmed. It opened like any other door after this.
Ancient machinery took up most of the room, its various cogs, gears, tanks, and canisters nearly covering the room entire and making it a labyrinth unto itself. Tubes and pipes stretch like tendrils into holes in the badly weathered walls. The center of the room’s ceiling has sunken inconsiderably, and reaches a height of barely fifteen feet in the center of the room and webbing adorned its surface. The group consulted with the glowing blades they carried with them. As expected, they were vague, and even a bit rude in the case of “Darkflame” as Christian had taken to naming the cool blue curved blade that he in his heart of hearts wished could only be a scimitar. The swords warned them to stand ready for they sensed danger. Skittering sounds could be heard from somewhere above. Lance tried to speak to whatever it was and in return heard a loud shrill shriek of gibberish they couldn’t make out. The angel on Lance’s shoulder paraphrased what she said was “Aklo” and something along the lines of feasting on their flesh and doing something unmentionable to their souls.
The group scattered trying to track the creature. Eventually one of the large containers came flying down at Redden, which he artfully dodged. The clang was loud and echoed through the room. He looked up and saw a large spider creature with the face of a woman with pointed ears. He took shots at it, angering her further. The rest of the group tried again to position themselves both in such a way to attack but also to protect the weakened Anatole. The spider creature lowered itself with webbing and attempted to bite Redden’s head off. It caught his shoulder instead, and sank poison fangs into him and weakening him, but was unable to grab hold of the ranger due to its own uncontrollable spasms. Anatole spoke of magical creatures known as phase spiders, but something felt off about this one as it moved spastically rather than effortlessly between material and “ethereal” planes as was written of them in tomes at the university. He warned of poison, but this didn’t help Redden much.
The group moved closer and sliced as best they could. Christian struck true with “Darkflame” and shield, and Loquar managed to enfeeble the creature greatly with a ray spell. Arrows and blades did their work and the weakened spider could not fend off their attacks. It repositioned itself with a short ethereal jaunt and showed signs of great discomfort in doing so. It attempted to bite down on Lance, narrowly missing him. Christian struck again in kind with a devastating blow with the magical blue sword that split the creature in twain. He asked the sword if it might at some point take on the shape of a scimitar, and telepathically it smiled at him with a grin in the shape of a scimitar’s curve. Perhaps there would be hope for them yet.
Following the fight, Anatole studied the creature and the room some more stating that he would appreciate more time to look over the place and perhaps better understand it. The group was just about ready to oblige for the sake of their own curiosity. Bjorn piped in that time was of the essence and every moment spent in investigation was a moment children could be harmed. Anatole insisted that the others go ahead without him, stating that the magical door should keep him safe for now and that perhaps he could be of better service to the group in figuring out these contraptions while they rescued any lost children. Knowing full well that he could be trapped once the doors shut again, he simply asked that they leave the machine lyre with him and that should they somehow not make it back for him he could try his luck out on the door. Doors, he thought, he could handle. Lance caught on that the man was attempting to save face for the fact that he was very scared and uncomfortable. He was best suited for investigating situations after they had occurred and perhaps wasn’t mentally prepared for the monsters they found themselves facing, those made of mercury and forced themselves into his head in particular. They respected his wishes and he bid them good luck as the door shut between them and began to glow a strong blue which signaled a lock.
It was a tough choice but they pressed on back to the floating hall surrounding the center. The fishy fey continued to evade them as they tried a new direction and found that the ‘floatiness’ continued on the other side and lead past rubble and soot into a room congested with black ash and soot. Examination revealed pieces of what looked like remnants of lab equipment, and luckily one intact magically gem that Loquar identified as an elemental gem of conjuration. Shattering it, he said, could summon forth a large creature from the planes of earth. Just the kind of thing he could work with, he added hopefully.
The next door that they tried lead to another strongly glowing blue door with the same musical notes featured on its face. Lance once again performed admirably and opened the door for the group leading to a branching hall, much like those before heading east then south and finally opening up into a circular room with a most bizarre black-barked tree growing downward from an unseen ceiling as if defying gravity. The room and the tree seemed unworldly, as not even Redden could identify the species of tree before them. Its kinked and writhing branches reached close to the floor and clung to a scrap of red fabric torn from some unknown, recent passer-by. Their footprints in the thin layer of soil on the ground skirted close to the wall and headed to the western door.
From above a creature stirred within the tree as Christian attempted to sneak past. A large, green dog-like creature dropped down and let out a loud bark at the group, shaking them all briefly and transported both Redden and Loquar back nearly ten feet back in a way that defied conventional rules of physics. With this flex of magical might and the group did their best to communicate with the creature and perhaps talk it down. Was it fey? Redden used his calming wild empathy, while their lyrakien friend did her best to sweet talk it in what sounded like Sylvan. It didn’t speak back, but rather watched them with quiet, intelligent eyes. It sniffed at them as they moved past. The group kept their arms and weapons low and slowly made their way towards the door. Redden and the angel kept it at bay and were the last to go through the door and enter the next hall. They turned a corner and faced another door… just what or who would they find behind it?
* END OF SESSION 29 *