Friday, July 7, 2017

The Colony - Turn 25/26 - Double Header

Two turns for the price of one!

Start Date: July 31, evening
Start Status: Plans
Start Location: Near the lizard caves (hex 39 27)

Adventuring: Mendel, Rennard, Jinx, Zenobe, Xon, Sim, Kessel
At the Tulip: Aaron, Adrienne, Brigg, Hagan, Javiera, Maarek, Smoke

The Turn

Before settling in for the night several party members make a quick circuit of the surrounding area, hoping to find a small animal they can use for bait tomorrow. Unfortunately, the dry terrain is not particularly conducive to wildlife and it's getting dark. They are unsuccessful. The night passes quietly.

August 1

The next morning dawns clear and hot and brings a little luck. Kessel manages to shoot a rabbit while gathering firewood. After eating a light breakfast (the cave is really foul and no one wants to risk a heavy meal), the party heads back down the tunnel with a load of tinder and firewood. Their general plan is to establish a line of ready-to-burn materials and then try to lure a few of the worm-things away from the lizard corpse with a baited grappling hook or by shooting them.

The main cave is in much the same condition as yesterday afternoon, and the group is able to set their trap without interference from the worm-things. They lay a blood trail in front of the fire wall using the rabbit corpse, and then take their positions behind it while Kessel prepares to fire.

The first shot misses the intended target and sinks into the lizard corpse instead. The second shot skips off a stone. "Wish we had better light," mutters Kessel, fitting a third arrow. This shot also goes wide and ends up lost in the darkness beyond the island.

"Let me try," says Jinx. He raises his blunderbuss, fires, and misses! [rolls, so bad].

"My turn." Xon fires his musket and scores a hit on one of the squirmy worms. The effect is instantaneous. The entire mass bolts with surprising speed into the filthy pool, churning up mud and muck from the bottom.

The party waits to see if there's any further reaction, and after several minutes, Sim says, "Well, carp. That didn't do much good, did it? I wonder how long they'll stay under water?"

Zenobe says, "Try the rabbit lure, see if you can pull one out of the water."

This seems an agreeable plan, so Jinx ties the end of the rope around a good-sized rock and then hurls the hook into the pool where he saw a number of the creatures vanish. He starts to pull it back with a jerky motion and has retrieved about 10 feet of rope when it suddenly stops moving. "Must have caught on a snag. Give me a hand, Kessel."

Together the pair heave on the rope, which gives a foot or so and then is ripped from their hands! Out in the pool, a churning mass of worms rises above the water and begins moving away from the group at a fast clip. The rope springs taunt, forming a line between the boulder on the shore and the writhing creatures. It holds for a moment, then the boulder starts sliding toward the water. "Watch out!" cries Mendel, grabbing Xon before he's knocked over.

The worm mass disappears into the shadows and the boulder stops moving about six feet out in the pool. You can still see the rope tied to it, and it appears to be slack.

"That was... weird," says Rennard.

"They were cooperating," says Sim. "I don't think they're dumb animals at all. Some were using their tails to hold on to other worms."

"They're stronger than they look, too," adds Jinx, holding out his rope-burned hands.

The worm pack's hasty retreat decides the matter for most of the party; they're all for wading along the south edge of the pool to the tunnel entrance that leads down to the partially blocked stairs the group left unexplored last trip. Sim, Jinx, and Xon are less enthusiastic about this plan, but they're willing to go along, assuming the front group reaches the tunnel.

Kessel, Zenobe, Renard, and Mendel start wading through the gore- and mud-filled water, sending sluggish ripples across the pool. Light from torches and Mendel's glowing sword show no signs of the worms, but the pool's surface is more disturbed than the group's movements can account for. "They're still out there somewhere," mutters Rennard.

Surprisingly, the front group makes it to the tunnel without incident, so the trailing trio reluctantly follows. Again, the crossing goes smoothly, and soon the party is making its way down the narrow tunnel to the stairs. The down-sloping passage shows no worm sign, and the piled boulders and dirt on the staircase look about the same.

While several party members keep watch in the larger cave, others use spade and pick to clear away some of the debris. Several boulders roll down the stairs creating a considerable din. "We're not going to surprise anyone," says Zenobe. Finally, the passage is wide enough for a person to pass comfortably. The group resumes their usual marching order and heads down.

The staircase is only about 10 feet long. It leads into a 30 x 30 room with 20-foot deep semi-circular alcoves in the north, south, and east walls. A square, 15-foot wide, stepped pedestal of red stone fills the center of the room. A nine-sided obelisk of red stone rises from the pedestal. , it's tip almost touching the 25-foot high domed ceiling.

"That's the same as the other one we found, isn't it!" exclaims Xon.

Kessel nods. "We'll almost. The rune is different." The ranger looks around the exitless room. "I *told* you we should have explored this while we were here last time."

"Look here," calls Medel from the northern alcove. "There are more runes here." In fact, each alcove has a panel made of the same red stone as the obelisk embedded in the wall. Each panel has three runes laid out in a vertical column.


This obelisk is almost identical to the one you found on the hill. It's slightly larger and the base is different. It has the same hole arrangement. Its rune matches the center rune on the panel in the east wall.

The room walls/ceiling are carved out of the native stone and have a smooth, almost polished finish. A few cracks and fallen stones, as well as a thick layer of dust, indicate the chamber has been undisturbed for many years. There's no telling how old it is, but 'really old' is a good guess.

End Date: August 1, morning
End Status: Obelisks and Alcoves
End Location: The lizard caves (hex 39 27)

That was the end of the actual turn, but a few members chimed in quickly, so I posted up an addendum that covered their actions.

Since several characters have indicated they're searching the room...

While checking out the craftsmanship of the walls, Mendel discovers a secret door just north of the entry passage. Jinx finds a tiny sliding latch that opens the panel, revealing a narrow alcove running west, 5 feet wide, 12 feet deep. There's a stand at the back of the alcove with a carved wooden box atop it.

Further searching in the main room and alcoves uncovers no additional secrets. Sim casts detect magic and discovers the pedestal, obelisk, and panels are all magical. "Maybe the stone itself has magical properties," he says. Nothing in the alcove appears to be magical.

Attempts to twist/move the obelisk using the pick and spade as levers show that it is quite immobile.

[Zenobe's holy symbol grants him a once a day find traps ability, which he uses]

"That was a good idea," mutters Zenobe to himself as he studies the alcove with his holy symbol aloft. There is a pressure plate in the floor just inside the door. It is about 5 feet across and extends from wall to wall. There is no obvious mechanism to disarm it.

Rennard walks up to stand next to Zenobe he reaches into his pocket and pulls a single (or two) yellow stone(s) out and places it above the 5ft wide pressure plate. He speaks a command word and the stone silently expands into a small platform over top the pressure plate. The Old Man looks to Zenobe with a raised eyebrow, a nod and says, “Shall we?” He makes a sweeping gesture with his hand, “Normally I would go first but I think you should go first to make sure there are no additional traps, I will follow you.”

They cross the stone bridge and approach the wooden box. Close up, it's clear the thing is ancient; the wood is dried out and splitting. The carvings are a simple pattern of repeated triangles and squares. Zenobe indicates there are no traps, and Rennard carefully picks up the fragile box.

"We should search this area, too. Perhaps it holds more secrets." They carefully examine the stand, which is a plain stone pedestal, and walls as they back out, and Rennard leaves the stones in place to allow others to examine the alcove safely.

It's sharp-eyed Mendel who spots the panel in the pedestal base. It easily slides aside, revealing an ornate gold-hilted dagger and sheath wrapped in rotten silk. As Mendel prepares to draw the blade, Sim says, "Careful! That thing is magic."

Meanwhile, Zenobe and Rennard work to open the box. The latch is corroded shut, and eventually, Rennard is forced to pry the lid open (and by pry open, I mean break), the lid. Inside are several rolled up sheets of parchment. "These are in surprisingly good shape," says Zenboe as he removes them from the broken box. "Sim, are these magical?"

The druid shakes his head and watches as Zenobe carefully unrolls the pages.

Lizard Cave Scrolls

The four pages of parchment recovered from the secret alcove in the Lizard Cave are each covered with writing and/or images.
  1. This sheet shows a procession moving up a stepped slope. Three people carry banners marked with the same symbol as the obelisk. Two more hold swords before them. A small figure leads a white ox. Two bearded men in robes carry some sort of globe hanging from a pole, perhaps an incense burner. A third figure in robes carries a box.
  2. This page has several blocks of writing in an unknown language surrounded by illustrations of dragons.
  3. Short blocks of text (in the same unknown language) interspersed with illustrations cover this long sheet of parchment. The first image shows three figures standing around what is clearly an obelisk like the one in the room. They all hold knives in their left hand. Their right arms are raised and marked with a bleeding wound. The second image shows the same (?) people with their right arms inserted into the obelisk. The final image depicts the same scene, with a bright beam of orange light descending from above. It touches the top of the obelisk and surrounds the three people.
  4. The last sheet of parchment is in bad shape, All that remains is a few fragments of text in the same language, and a partial image of the rune from the obelisk in the room.
While the drawings do depict people, the proportions are odd. Each, even the small one leading the ox, is very thin and tall. Most old world art depicts people with varying skin tones, but the exposed hands and faces in these images are uniformly white. The clothing shown is quite colorful, with red and orange shades predominating. The art is quite detailed, although time has certainly had an effect on the images.

Meanwhile, Mendel has drawn the dagger from its sheath.

Ornamental Dagger

The curved steel blade of this 12-inch long dagger is quite sharp and engraved with the nine runes shown on the panels in the Lizard Cave. The rune on the obelisk is nearest the handle and quite a bit larger than the others. The sheath, hilt, and guard are either gold or gold plated, and inscribed with a pattern of triangles and squares. A faint glow coming from the blade reveals its enchanted nature.

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