The Devil’s Spine: Session 5

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.

barrowtown

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.

aurturipit

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.

avindarsclue

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.

 

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