Having conversed with the great Aurturi and received its sting and the subsequent changes, Leena, Odd, Radinator, Xenath, Xi, Zarvox, and Dãv entered once more into the pit once more. This time, they stopped in the room with the sarcophagus and took the young woman’s body with them. Using it to trigger the ‘clappers,’ they easily passed through that danger and descended down the elevator shaft into the room filled with floating chunks of shattered glass.
They approached the door that had remained sealed despite their valiant efforts and placed a hand on it. A wave of light shimmered across its surface and it rose silently into the ceiling, revealing a lavish, open room. Once-beautiful paintings adorned the walls, and a red carpet ran down the center beneath three chandeliers to the base of an imposing statue of the Queen. Placing a glowglobe in a pocket in the nearby wall, the chandeliers fill the room with cool blue illumination.
Odd approached the statue to see if it might be the ‘trap-laden statue’ referenced in a previously found clue and discovered that it was trap-laden when its eyes glowed red and a voice from around the room, “Defile NOT my final rest! Leave now while you have your life!” The chandeliers also turned red and a profound terror filled the minds of Leena, Radinator, and Zarvox. They tried bolting from the room, but Xi and Odd was able to stop them, where they remained cowering in fear for another minute or so.
Gathering their resources, it was decided that everyone would wait outside the room while Xi ran up to the statue to affix part of a cypher to it, allowing Radinator to remotely deactivate it. With the statue subdued, Odd opted to cut out a few of the paintings that were in good enough shape that they might be worth something. Zarvox asked Dãv to cut out the painting that depicted the same royal crest that was on his shield, and the culova climbed up the wall and easily sliced through the canvas, bringing him back the work of art.
Departing from the room through the doorway behind the statue before the cypher wore off, they approached a deep, wide chasm. A rope bridge was attached to two floating black rectangular objects and extended across the chasm to matching blocks on the opposite side. Zarvox told Dãv to stay on this side then stepped out onto the bridge. It immediately collapsed under his weight and he fell the 80 feet or so to the floor below.
Xi took some of his rope and tied one end to one of the Reality Spikes and tossed the other end down into the chasm. Grabbing ahold of the rope, Odd jumped onto his back and they safely descended down to where Zarvox lay surrounded by massive pieces of broken machinery. Radinator followed, leaving Leena up top with Dãv.
After everyone took a few moments to take in their surroundings and tend to Zarvox’s wounds, Zarvox called up to Dãv and asked him to climb down and provide some assistance. After the spidery creature descended, they explained to it that they’d like it to climb up the other side of the chasm and tie the other end of the rope to one of the blocks there, providing a way for everyone to climb out. It agreed and carefully made its way up the smooth wall. Once it arrived it at the top, it deftly secured it, leaving a very taut line stretching across the chasm back to where Leena waited. The remainder of the rope dropped back down to the bottom where the others were.
Odd climbed back onto Xi’s back and let the fabulous Seeker do all the work to climb up to the top. Radinator and Zarvox followed behind, chuckling at their companions’ antics. Leena slowly made her way out onto the rope across the chasm and made it about halfway before her grip gave out and she fell to the ground below. She lay there groaning for several minutes before dragging herself to the dangling rope. Tying herself to it, the others pulled her up to the doorway.
Reunited once more, they spent the next hour resting and recovering before continuing down the hallway, which Xi lit by infusing it with a significant amount of light. It opened into another room that had a humming machine in the center of it. Xi ran into the room yelling, “I am Groot!”
As he ran in, three monstrous creatures emerged from the shadows. Each bore physical characteristics of Radinator, Xi, Odd, Zarvox, Xenath, and Leena. A fight broke out, as the heroes fought for their lives. Their fear rose as each slain monster was absorbed into the living, making it bigger and stronger. But their efforts finally prevailed and they were left alone in the room with the humming machine.
Odd remotely deactivated it and their attention was drawn to a clear synth cylinder on the far side of the room. They decided to camp out in the room to regain their strength before continuing.
Xi unsuccessfully tries to use his beam lance to cut through the door…several times
They decide to retrace their steps and revisit Aurturi
Xi fabulously dives through one of the smashing panels but is painfully caught in the second one in the middle of his back handspring
The are surprised to discover that all of the traps and pressure plates in a previous room have moved. The path they once thought safe was safe no longer
They explore the other passageway – which lead to a small, empty room and an overhead surprise
Zarvox was able to talk down a very confused, angry, and hurt culova, offering it protection if it would stay close to him.
In their remorse, most of the party offered the spidery creature restorative cyphers or food and helped bandage up the very wounds they caused
They then discovered a burial chamber complete with an occupied sarcophagus
Leena got her hand smashed in the lid when it closed on its own, and when she reopened it, a gust of air hit her hand making it feel a bit better
She then sprayed her canister of sparkling spray into the sarcophagus just as the lid closed
Continuing their ascent, they were momentarily stumped by the tunnel with the coded doors, but they were able to figure out the pattern and emerged once more in the side of the deep shaft.
Everyone ascended the rope, some more bravely than others, and found themselves once more in front of the shimmering doorway leading to Aurturi
Hemming and hawing about what to do, they finally decided to spend the rest of the night outside on the landing, getting some rest and recovering from their foray into the Pit
When morning came, they approached Aurturi and had a discussion with it about the Sting of Death it offered as well as the deal it had brokered with Bach. They then offered him a promise of genocide in exchange for a similar deal. Aurturi agreed to ponder the offer.
Odd decided to take the plunge and asked Aurturi for the Sting. It happily (and speedily) complied, stabbing the man in the chest with its venom-dripping tail. Odd froze, paralized for a long moment before coming to once again. In addition to being hurt, he discovered that his neck had grown about 6 inches longer.
One by one, the rest received the Sting of Death and were one by one transformed in some way:
Odd’s parasite grew a tail
Zarvox grew gill-like appendages on his neck
Xenath’s lips turned a dark shade of purple
Xenath’s parasite developed a thick fur coat
Leena’s teeth became pointed
Xi found himself covered in lumps that each looked a bit like Odd
Having felt the Sting of Death, they thanked Aurturi and departed.
….using a bowl he had found, Xenath scooped up a glob of the black goo and raced back toward the room where the others waited. As he scooped it up, a cloud of black smoke poured from both the puddle on the floor and from the container he now held. Despite the fluid sloshing around dangerously (as it had very little viscosity), he was able to successfully navigate the hallway. As he entered the small room where everyone had congregated, everyone began choking on the black cloud. It stung their eyes and burned its way into their lungs.
Between coughing fits, Xi had Xenath halt long enough for him to dip his pinky finger into the goo. It immediately began burning away at his finger and he flicked the remnants back into the bowl. His finger didn’t look too bad off, but it was hard to tell as he could no longer feel it.
While they were fascinated by the numb digit, a portal of purple energy spiraled into the room, and stepping from it was Zarvox’s brother! Hansuraz introduced himself to the others, making fast friends with Xenath. He was apprised of the situation and attempted to help Xenath splash a bit of the goo up on the closed door, then swinging the bowl down fast enough to catch it again. Together, they threw it up against the wall and successfully caught it again. But in doing so, a glob splashed on Xenath’s shoulder. He was able to shake it off before it caused any damage, though his arm immediately went limp from the shoulder down.
Hacking and coughing at the putrid cloud filling the small room, they stumbled out into the room where the glass table hovered. They then spent the next hours trying a variety of experiments with the goo, table, and door, hoping to blindly stumble upon the right combination to cause the door to open. After all was said and done,
Half of Xi’s pinky was painlessly dissolved. The other half is numb and useless
Xenath’s arm is limp and numb and surprisingly useful as a dead weight to swing around
The glass table has been shattered. Shards of it are scattered throughout the room, floating at same level as table
Everything short of drinking the black goo or throwing someone into it were tried (and both those options were seriously considered)
When they finally grew weary of the continual pain and damage the black goo was causing, they left it and re-explored the area. Happening upon an idea, Leena shot her grapple cypher up the elevator shaft where it held fast to the bottom of the platform. Boldly grasping onto the rope, Xi climbed up and banged against the metal surface. A chance blow caused his beam lance to activate, slicing through the platform. He quickly pounced upon the opportunity and cut a hole large enough for him to climb through. Once having done so, he squeezed the ball to bring the elevator back down where he stepped forth and bowed fabulously.
Stepping through the doorway to the left, they quickly are forced to take another sharp, left turn into a room filled with beautiful works of art. Golden urns, silver vases, plump leather bags with copper buckles, and a shield hanging on the far wall with the royal crest of Queen Starloscet. In the center of the room was a pedestal, made of the same black brick as the rest of the room, and on top of it was a wooden chest, bound by a thick, iron lock.
The chest quickly drew everyone’s attention, and Odd scanned it for Numenera. Sensing that the lock would be a tricky one to open, he was extra careful in his attempt and was pleased when the lock popped open. As he was still scanning the box, he got the impression that something had just been triggered inside and he felt the box grow ever so slightly warmer. A debate ensued regarding whether or not to open it, but it was settled when Xenath boldly threw the lid back. A great bout of super-hot plasma erupted from the chest, splattering its spray across the ceiling, walls, and floor. With the exception of Xi, who was studying a fabulous-looking urn, everyone was able to safely dodge the brunt of the expulsion. Xi however, was badly burned by the plasma.
The room was now well-lit from the urns and vases which were on fire, and everyone was immediately far more cautious. They all took a much closer look at the charred remains of the central pedestal, and Odd found a small canister that had once held the now-cooled plasma. He tucked it away for future use…you never know when a flask will come in handy!
Zenath took down the shield that was hanging from the wall, and Leena saw something behind it that was just a bit off – a brick was loose! She pushed on it, and the entire wall receded slightly then slid to the left, revealing a long, dark hallway. The ceramic floor was wide enough for two people to walk abreast, and the walls were made of plaster painted to look like bricks.
Holding his glowing dagger aloft, Xi strode into the hallway, followed closely behind by Radinator. As soon as they stepped foot into the hallway, spears stabbed out at them from the walls. Xi was quite light on his feet and escaped the trap with enough time to yank Radinator to safety. Looking closer at the plaster walls, Zenath smashes his new shield into the wall, only to feel the plaster give way under the force of the synthsteel. Peering inside it, he could see the mechanisms of the spear trap line the entire hallway. Odd, being familiar with the construction of such traps, easily disables the traps along both sides of the hallway. In doing so, he was able to scavenge a couple of cyphers: two were capable of launching objects at long distances and the other two had barbed spearheads attached to a coil of cable.
Odd declared the hallway safe, but most opted to walk behind the walls than down the hallway. Only Xenath and Xi trusted Odd’s handiwork enough to walk down the hallway. With each step, they felt the floors trigger mechanisms that were now disabled. Reaching the end of the hallway, it turned left, leading into an octagonal-shaped room.
The entire room was made of a smooth metal, and in the center was a cylindrical column that reached from floor to ceiling. Protruding from four sides of the column were flat plates of metal, also reaching from floor to ceiling. Opposite the column-attached plates were matching metal surfaces in the four corners of the room.
To the left, they could see a bundle of cloth lying on the floor. Zenath told his faithful seskii companion to go fetch the cloth and bring it back. As soon as the animal passed between two of the plates, they smashed together with incredible force. The plates locked in place together for a few seconds then retracted apart. The seskii, who had no chance to escape, was little more than a smear on the metal surfaces. Remnants of bone, fur, and spikes littered the floor to either side of where the plates had met. A heavy, fearful silence hung amongst the party in response to the rapidity of death they had just witnessed.
Slowly coming out of their shock, Xarvox took his nigh-indestructible scarf and whipped it between the plates. Nothing happened. Confusion and curiousity taking over, they vainly threw a variety of things between the plates, Scanned the column (discovering it would be impossible to damage), and shot energy bolts at the plates (which did more damage to the party than it did the plates).
Leena then revealed to the others a cypher which would allow her to telekinetically bring something to her from a distance. Using it, she summoned the pile of cloth. It rose into the air and passed between the plates, only to have them smash together once again, obliterating the bundle. Taking advantage of the time the plates were pressed together, Xi crawled under the bar pushing the plate. Once the plates separated, the bundle of cloth continued to Leena who opened them to discover the remnants of an old skeleton. Pocketing a synth ring and a rusty dagger, they asked Xi what he could see around the column.
He could now see the far exit, but it was blocked by another set of plates. Through the exit, he could see a cable dangling from the ceiling with some sort of ball attached to the end of it. Hoping that it was the key to disabling the plates, he fired a web-detonation cypher, rolled to him by Odd, at the column between the two sets of plates (between him and the entrance and between him and the exit). An explosion of pink goop covered the column, wrapping around the edges of the plates. After giving it a moment to set, Xi took a running leap through the plates toward the cable. Spinning fabulously through the air, he felt the concussive force of the plates smashing together behind him. After a dramatic pause, he called to the others letting them know he had made it safely.
He strode to the cable and pulled on it, to no effect. He pushed at it, letting it swing back and forth for a moment. Finally, he took the ball in his hand and squeezed. Immediately the floor beneath his feet began rapidly descending. He let go as quickly as he could, which stopped his descent. Looking up, he could see that he had dropped a good 15′ in just a split second. Not knowing what else to do, he squeezed the ball again, and descended another 135′ down the shaft. Looking out into another well-decorated (though very dirty and grimy) hallway, he began searching the walls of the shaft for any type of return lever or button. Though he didn’t sense pressing anything, the floor began rising, just as rapidly as it had descended. Entering the room with the metallic plates once more, he called to the others and let them know what he had found.
After a brief discussion about what to do, Xenath took a running dive through the plates. They smashed together behind him as he gracefully rolled to his feet on the other side. The others took advantage of the opportunity and crawled to join him. Knowing that Xi was watching him, he took his scarf in hand and lept through the plates again, pirouetting in the air. He landed with a flourish of the scarf, applauded by the harsh sound of the plates clapping together. Xi, not overly impressed critiqued, “You hesitated there. You could have done better.” The others were impressed though, and safely crawled to the other side.
All together again, they went into the elevator and Xi grabbed the ball once again. Xenath placed his burly hand over Xi’s and also squeezed. Amid dubious looks, the elevator descended once again, where Radinator, Odd, Zarvox, and Xi stepped off into the hallway. Xenath and Leena stayed on the elevator, where Xenath tied a piece of rope around the ball to maintain pressure on it.
Odd scanned this new area for traps and found that it was safe, and Leena, from the safety of the elevator, took a good look around the room. Along the wall to the left was another plastered wall bearing a beautiful mural, depicting the glorious reign of Queen Starloscet. She floated in the air above a lush, verdant landscape where people were gathering in grain and tending flocks. Leena saw that something looked a bit off about one group of harvesters, the colors weren’t quite as vivid as the rest. In a corner on the opposite side of the room were two corpses: one sitting up and the other curled into a fetal position. And in the center of the room a glass disc floated about 4′ off the floor. The table-like piece of glass was about three inches thick and about 7′ across. Her view of the room was interrupted by the elevator suddenly rising once more.
Mindless of his destruction of a work of art, Zarvox pounded away at the plaster wall, revealing a hidden room behind. Xi went from ridiculing Zarvox to joining him at the hole, curious as to what lay on the other side. His glowing dagger revealed a long-abandoned workroom, with a table and shelves covered in dust. The table had an assortment of crafting tools and the shelves bore remnants of building supplies: bricks, lumber, mortar, etc. Looking closer, Xi could see that there were some parchments tucked between some bricks on one of the shelves. As Xi, Radinator, and Odd enter the room to retrieve the papers, Zarvox goes up to the floating table and places his hand on it. As soon as he does, a silver fluid flows from the ceiling, congealing and morphing into the semblance of a human face. It speaks:
When the message ended, the face transformed into a silvery mist that dissipated throughout the room.
At that point, the elevator arrived at the bottom of the shaft once more (Xenath and Leena had arrived at the top and immediately descended again). Xenath, seeing Zarvox at the table, also went up and placed his hand on it. The silvery face reappeared, the message replayed, and the room was filled just a little bit more with some mist.
Xi had pulled the parchments free and examined them, only to find them written in a language he could not recognize. But he had prior experience in deciphering unknown languages, and after spending a couple of minutes studying it, he discovered that they were notes made by the builders of the tomb. He was able to glean several useful pieces of information:
Push the yellow button to activate the teleporter
Auturi’s sting must be felt
A statue of the queen is a trap
Something lives in the areas outside of the tomb
It is very difficult if not impossible to use the elevator to get back to the upper level
Meanwhile, Radinator and Zarvox began searching the bodies of the two corpses. They had apparently died from starvation, but the few shins and the buzzer they carried were still useful. Having scavenged what they could, Zarvox rearranged the skeletons into the position of star-crossed lovers.
Odd stepped from the workroom and being able to talk to machines, he remotely activated the table. He saw the silvery face form from the ceiling, and heard the undecipherable message. While it was speaking, Leena ran out and sprayed it with her can of glittering spray paint. When the face exploded into mist, the glitter hung in the air for a moment longer than the mist did. In that moment, the face briefly morphed into a semblance of Aurturi before dissipating.
Moving from the table, Odd then Scanned the iron door at the far end of the hall. He couldn’t see any latches or hinges, but he could tell that there were some mechanisms that extended down the hallway to the left. Relaying that information to the others, Xi took his glowing dagger and refractory lens and moved down the hallway with Xenath. He saw wooden door on the right and another room opening up at the end of the hall. Behind him, Zarvox placed hand on the glass table again, surprised to discover the mercurial face did not appear. He left, following Radinator, Xi, and Xenath into the room at the end of the hall.
Leena, curious as to why the face didn’t appear for Zarvox, touched the table. The face descended once again, relaying its message, and she sprayed it for an even longer period of time, and the semblance to Aurturi appeared more pronounced with the sparkle before dissipating. She then followed the others.
Entering the new room, Xi found a pedestal in the middle, about 6′ by 3′, and on the surrounding walls were an assortment of clay, ceramic, or glass jars. There was a crack in a wall, and a black, tarry substance had oozed from it, coating its way down the wall and partway across the floor.
Xi stepped back and took a closer look at the doorway they had passed. Finding it locked, he stuck his dagger into the lock and tried to jimmy it open. He felt the tumblers fall into place, and he pushed the door open. Feeling the hairs raise on the back of his neck, he threw himself to the side just as a massive, spike ball broke through the ceiling overhead and swung through the doorway.
Oblivious to what was going on in the hallway outside, Xenath took his spear and poked it into the black goo. At the contact, thousands of black spores flew into the air, causing all who were in there (Radinator, Xenath, Zarvox, and Leena) to start violently coughing. Grabbing some jars off the shelves on their way out, Radinator, Xenath, and Zarvox left the room, continuing to hack and cough painfully. Radinator and Xenath found themselves holding a jar of poison and a healing salve, but Zarvox’s only held water. Leena spent more time looking at the jars, fruitlessly trying to find one with an air-tight seal. She was able to determine though that most of the jars had held types of embalming ingredients, and that this room was likely used to prepare a body for burial.
Peering into the room he just opened, Xi saw a room with walls made of brick and floors covered in old, rotting wood. In the far corner, he saw a rusted, iron wheel. Odd came in with him and made sure that it was trap-free. Wielding his beam-sword, he was able to cut through the chain locking the wheel in place. Watched by Leena, Xi and Radinator took hold of the wheel and with a sound of screeching metal, began to turn it. Odd, who had returned to the iron door with Zarvox and Xenath, saw it slide down into the floor.
On the far side of the door was a short hallway ending in a metal wall. Etched into the wall was the outline of another door. Everyone squeezed into the small room while Odd Scanned the door. Determining that it was keyed to some sort of genetic marker, everyone began touching various things to the door in the hopes of activating it: their hands, the tattooed face bore by Xenath, the ring Leena found, speaking sternly to it, the bones of the star-crossed lovers, Xi even licked it! Leena ran back to the embalming chamber, grabbed a jar and tried using that, but it was all to no avail.
Desperate for a solution, Xenath hurried back to the builder’s room, took a shallow container and returned to the embalming chamber. Then he scooped up a big glob of the black ooze…..
The party reconvened at the edge of the pit briefly before descending back down the spiraling staircase to where the shimmering doorway stood. Zenath missed the party’s departure and was left behind with his seskii.
Deliberating at the blue, shimmering doorway yet again, Xi bravely stepped through to the other side, where he found himself in a dark hallway. Gripping his dagger, he pushed his will through it, and it began casting a soft, yellow light around him, illuminating the entryway. He picked up a rock and threw it back toward the shimmering doorway, and it sailed over the others and into the darkness of the pit below. The others followed him through, though Xarvox ‘gently’ helped Burris along.
The walls of the hallway they were in were decorated with mural after mural of a glamorous woman in various scenes of rulership. In some she was riding a chariot, others she was sitting upon a throne, in others she was before masses of other people, and in others kings and queens were paying her tribute. Burris confirmed that this was Queen Starloscet, and they all were able to gather that she was well-loved and revered by her people and the surrounding lands. Depicted in some of the imagery was a sheathed sword with a blue-entwined hilt. Burris excitedly laid claim to the Impossible Blade, but was quickly put in his place by the others. Lena quickly sketched the murals, hoping they might prove useful later.
The hallway continued a ways before opening into a large room. Rows of benches filled the room, all facing toward the centerpiece on the far wall, an image of Bach placing the Queen into Aurturi’s Pit, and at the bottom lay a large, bloated creature with a single large red with a number of smaller eyes. Upon close inspection, Xi realized that the large eye and two of the smaller eyes protruded ever so slightly from the surface of the wall. He pressed one, and it receded into the wall and back out.
Odd, Xarvox, and Xi then pressed all three eyes at the same time. Again, they receded then came back out with no other effect. Pressing Burris for information about the key he promised, he told them they needed to press the large eye then both the smaller eyes. Having done so, the wall split in three, revealing a hidden staircase.
At this point Burris refused to go any further explaining that he had fulfilled his part of the bargain and it was time the others did theirs. Xarvox attempted to intimidate him into explaining why he was afraid to go further, but Burris held his ground. Xi wondered aloud why they shouldn’t kill him then
They descended, entering a metallic, oblong room. At the end of it was a pile of twigs, branches, and mud casting a soft, yellow light into the room. Revealed by both that light and the light of Xi’s dagger, a purple blob lay in the middle of the room. Xarvox tried sneaking up on it, but the creature sensed him coming and rose to its feet.
Debating between attacking and talking to the creature, it was decided that it would be best to attempt a conversation. It revealed itself as Auturi, the Lord of Death. Brief introductions were made, and he mistakenly thought Xi was 20 millenia old; he was willing to let them feel the ‘sting of death’ despite them being so young, if that was what they truly wanted.
When pressed for information, he explained that he had been created to bring death, and once he stings a person, they can continue on their journey into the pit. As no one was willing to face their death, they retreated back to the memorial room and found the mechanism to close the door. Lena and Xenath retreated back up the hallway to the shimmering doorway, looking for Burris, to no avail. Xenath cautiously put his pinky through the energy field, and once assured of there being no ill-effect, entered the shaft once again.
Shortly thereafter, everyone gathered outside the hallway on the platform in the shaft, pondering their next move. Lena brought forth a cypher she had that would do a scan of an area up to 1500′ feet away. She sent it down the shaft and a few minutes later received the full transmission of a pit that continued beyond the range of the cypher. It did reveal a couple of dark shadows on the walls, one directly below the platform.
Tying some of their ropes together, Xi clambered about 60′ down and found another entryway. At this point, Zenath arrived with his seskii and was brought up to speed on all that had transpired. They each carefully climbed down the rope into the opening and followed the large tube a short distance where it ended at a large wall. In the center of the wall was a single symbol, which matched a symbol on the slip of paper Avindar had given them.
Having pressed the symbol, the wall rolled to one side, revealing another wall with another symbol that matched the journal entry they held. They opened and closed the doors, following the pattern on the paper until the last door stood open. The tube continued a short distance before opening up into a rectangular room. At the far end stood two open doorways.
Xi and Radinator strode into the room, triggering a trap. They both were able to dodge the arrows that shot out, but they stood still, frozen in fear. Odd recalled the brief interest he had taken in booby traps and carefully examined the room. He could discern where there were likely to be pressure plates and where it would be safe to walk, and they began to make their way across the room.
Radinator, unfortunately, strayed a bit too far from Odd’s instructions, and fell onto the spikes at the bottom of a 30′ deep pit. Xi illuminated a piece of rope and lowered it to him to help him out. Using the light of the rope, Radinator examined the bottom of the pit and found the skeletal remains of others who had fallen. He was able to find 16 shin and a synthsteel helmet. Upon closer examination, he saw that the helmet was able to activate a 9′ long pandimensional tentacle. Smiling broadly, he put it on and climbed out of the pit.
Everyone took a breather at the end of the room and discussed which doorway they would enter: the one on the right or the one on the left. After much deliberation, it was decided they’d go through the left door….
Continuing their journey with Eenosh (a Navajin they had rescued in Session 4), the party found themselves within sight of a strange collection of towers. These tall edifices had crossbeams branching off of them high above the ground, and they could make out what looked like some sort of structures nestled in the crook of the towers and beams. Even at a distance, they saw a number of things rising from the ground toward the structures or descending from them.
A middle-aged man waved at them and said, “Welcome to Barrow-Town, travelers!” Pleasantries were exchanged and he gave the party directions to both a good inn in the Barrows and to Senya, a local historian, who lived in the Burrows. He shouldered his bag and was about to depart when he was stopped for a last question of where he was headed to. He explained that his sister, along with a number of others, had found a white substance, and having touched it, were changed. He was headed away from the settlement to leave some food for her.
Reaching the base of one of the towers, they saw a number of lifts. Some rising to the distant heights, others dropping below the surface. They climbed aboard one ascending (Zenath kindly giving the lift operator a tip), and rose up into the marketplace of Barrow-Town.
A brief encounter with the owner of the Barrow-Inn (who also owned the Burrow-Inn), had most of them settled comfortably in their rooms. Xarvox, however, opted to sleep outside. The innkeeper had rebuffed his offer of working in the kitchen; something about the rank odor that surrounded the glaive. And event though Xarvox threw the rotting chirog tail away, the innkeeper still preferred not to have him earn his keep in the kitchens.
Once comfortable, they descended from Barrow to Burrow and quickly found the residence of Senya. Upon entering the abode, they found two women deep in conversation. One was tall, with dark hair and a face covered in freckles, the other was average height, wearing a top-hat, resting one hand on a cane, whilst the other held an open book. Both turned toward the five people who were now crowding Senya’s little hovel.
Introductions were made, and Leena decided to go along with the others in their search for the Impossible Blade, for she too sought the artifact.
Senya was an excellent source of information about the Tomb, and relayed to them the Legend of the Aurturi:
There was a time from a prior world where life and death had become indistinguishable. Those who were during that age were immortal; by passing their very essence – the blend of their mind and soul, from one body to the next, they never grew old. They never felt the shadow of death loom over them. They grew deaf to the toll of time. But while their souls reveled in that immortality, after millenia of such existence, their minds began to fray. While their souls lived, their minds were dying. And yet, they continued in their passage from body to body, though they saw their used bodies wither and decay, they had lost the understanding of what death meant. What happens to the soul once it is separated from the mind? What happens to the mind if the soul departs? These questions and more plagued them for centuries, but what were they to do? That great farewell which once was intimate and familiar was now merely a legend, a myth.
Some, growing tired, simply refused to leave a body as it expired, and yet after the body had breathed its last, they found themselves pulled inexorably into a new, young body. It seemed that after several millenia of refusing death, they had forgotten how to die.
Something had to be done to end the wonderful misery that was their existence. So they built for themselves the Aurturi. This winged creature of death had the power of fusing the mind and soul to the body once more. When a person was ready to finally depart, they would enter Aurturi’s presence, beg his terrible gift, and feel the sting of death once more. Only then could they mercifully cease their existence and pass through the curtain into the great unknown.
The people of Garamur were aware of this legend and of Aurturi. So when the queen died, her royal advisor and lover, Bach, seeking to aid his beloved into the afterlife, descended into Aurturi’s Pit where he struck an accord with the great beast. He built for her an elaborate tomb to celebrate her life and commemorate her death. But he feared Aurturi might not stop those dedicated tomb-robbers from desecrating her resting place, so he built barricade after barricade, locking her away forever. Only he knew the key to enter her presence, and when he was reunited with her in death, he passed that key to no one. There have been few who have sought the lovers’ graves, and far fewer who have returned with any tale to tell.
When asked about the white substance that had changed some of the residents, Senya had less information. She did point them to the direction of a large pile of rocks near the settlement that had signs posted warning people away. She also told them of Burris, a man who had been by the previous day to ask her about the Impossible Blade.
Curiosity divided the party; Odd, Leena, Xi, and Zenath went to the pile of rocks that supposedly covered the white substance, while Xarvox and Radinator sought out Burris.
The pile of rocks was just that, though it was a much larger pile than had been assumed. Odd used his Scan ability on it but didn’t find anything of interest. While he was studying the pile, he felt a little tug at his coat. Turning, he discovered that one of his cyphers was missing. While Leena watched on, Xi and Zenath began digging through the rocks. After digging for an hour, they had nothing to show for it other than becoming sweaty and dirty.
Xarvox and Radinator asked around and heard that Burris was last seen up in the Barrows, so they ascended and found him conversing with a merchant. Seeing Xarvox’s obvious strength, Burris turned his attention to the two newcomers and tried to convince them to help him recover the vast wealth that lay in the Queen’s Tomb. Deferring to answer the following day, they said their farewells and made their way to the rockpile.
Another hour had passed with no white goo being revealed, though they did find three usable cyphers in the midst of the rubble. Giving up in defeat, they left the two piles of rocks and went back to the lifts. Eenosh was still at the base of the tower, deliberating between facing the horror of rising that far above the earth or the terrors of descending below. Leaving him to decide, the party went back to the Barrow-Inn where they had dinner and retired for the night.
The next morning they had breakfast before descending back to the ground where they found Burris talking with Eenosh. The party joined the conversation and a deal was struck between the party and Burris. The party would help Burris plumb the riches of the Tomb in exchange for getting first pick of the treasure. After that, Burris would lay claim to 40% of the riches, leaving the remainder to be divvied up between the six of them. In exchange, Burris would give them the secret to entering Aurturi’s lair. Reticent to actually going into the pit, he finally agreed to travel to the Queen’s Memorial when he watched Xarvox threatened him by placing a tattooed face over his own. Eenosh participated in the transaction as a witness, and they all sealed the deal over drinks.
Leaving, they journeyed to the pit, where they encountered a darkly-clad man standing at the edge next to a hand-cart. He introduced himself as Avindar and explained he was fascinated by death and by the possibility of bringing the dead back to life again. He patted the oblong box on the cart, mentioning that he loves his wife very much. The conversation was short lived, but as they walked away, Xarvox made a kind guesture of offering to relay any information they found in the pit pertaining to what Avindar sought. Touched by the thoughtfulness, Avindar gave him a scrap from a journal he had found pertaining to the Queen’s Tomb.
Despite their best efforts, the party was unable to decipher its meaning. Xi and Xarvox went back to the Burrows to ask Senya about it while Odd kept Burris company at the edge of the pit while Zenath took his seskii and rested in the shade of one of the nearby pillars. Leena and Radinator carefully scouted ahead, descending a staircase down the slope of the depression and further on down the walkway that spiraled a descent deep into the shaft. At the bottom of the walkway, the found an arch cut into the smooth surface of the shaft, and a shimmering wall of energy covered the opening. They tossed a number of things through it and scoured the surrounding walls, but discovered nothing.
They ascended once more where they found Xi and Xarvox returning from Senya having learned nothing of interest.
The party left the village next to the Invisible Sea and continued their trek west. The latest clue they have was that a nevajin named Eenosh might know something. After two more days of walking across the unremarkable plain, they came upon what appeared to be a statue of a man half buried in the earth.
As they drew nearer, several creatures crawled over and around the statue, barking and chirping at the approaching party. After a few unsuccessful attempts at communicating, Odd shot a bolt of electricity at the largest of them. Combat ensued.
Electricity arced across the wasteland, bolts of energy lanced through the air, claw and fang rent flesh, and Xarvox did his best to rip the tail off of one of the chirogs. The combat carried on with no clear indication of who would emerge victorious, so Radinator took off running toward the statue where he climbed up to a shoulder. Soaring through the air overhead was Odd using a cypher to jump the distance and land perfectly on the head of the statue. They both saw a leanto attached to the back of the statue.
The chirogs, seeing their leader slain by the hand of Xi swarmed him, yet he deftly danced through them all, dodging and parrying blows with his energy lance.
Emerging from the hut was a strange, creature covered in bark-like skin. He took in the scene and barked out a chirping command. The remaining chirogs ceased their fighting and came to him. He introduced himself as Eenosh, then turned to the chirogs and had a brief chirping conversation with them. Eenosh explained some of the unique situation he was in. He sought after numenera to preserve it, whereas the chirogs sought after numenera to destroy it. They had worked out a tenuous stalemate.
Hearing that the chirogs loved to eat numenera, the party began turning out their pockets and giving cyphers to the ravenous creatures who tore into them with abandon. Odd then triggered another cypher to lock them in stasis while they and Eenosh made their exit. But not before scouring the hut where they found a few shin and a couple cyphers Eenosh had hidden away.
Eenosh answered some of their questions about the Mustahil, or as the ‘commoners’ called it, The Impossible Blade. He knew the last possessor of it was Queen Starloscet of Garamur, and all that was left of her kingdom was a small settlement called Barrow-Town. He agreed to travel with the party there, and they set off, albeit slowly, toward their new destination.