Numenera

Fear the Ocean – Part 3

A rectangular doorway became apparent in the base of the middle spire; as they watched a horde of the sea creatures poured out towards them …

 

Harrylock readied his crossbow arm and the others drew weapons; however the creatures ignored them and poured straight past and into the ocean. When it became apparent that no more were coming out, they moved towards the doorway. It was an irregular pentagon, straight-sided and wider at the base than at the top. From inside came a soft blue glow and a faint “brrark” noise.

Inside was a pentagonal chamber of grey stone with another archway in the opposite wall. Ledges lined the walls from floor to ceiling; on these roosted hundreds of blue/green birds with tentacles instead of feet. The air was filled with the rasping, croaking “brrark” sound. They watched the “tentacled chickens” for a time; then Galadiir stepped over to the nearest one; drew his sword and killed it. He picked it up; it bled purple blood all over him.

“I wonder what they taste like.”

At this point, something burst against the wall behind him. He turned, to see the gooey remains of an egg sliding down the wall. Several more burst around him, on the walls and on the floor. He ran for the inner archway; dodging flying eggs being hurled by the angry chickens. Alas, his luck ran out and he was pelted just as he reached the archway; not only were they sticky but they stank as well.

“Maybe you shouldn’t have killed the chicken”, commented Sonny and he and Harrylock picked their way through the mess to join him.

Beyond the archway, a sloping ramp led to another pentagonal chamber, bisected by a shimmering plane of light. The floor, walls and ceiling were covered in rectangular and trapezoid blocks, seemingly exuded from the grey stone. The blocks glowed in a variety of hues of blue, purple and green; slowly fading then brightening again. Harrylock shot a bolt through the plane to see if it disintegrated (or something), Sonny stepped forward and vanished from view. On hearing his voice the others followed into the second part of the chamber. A pentagonal archway was flanked by two glowing crystal Dendron trees; their branches and fronds moving in a slow, complex pavane. Galadiir approached the archway; the movement of the fronds became more agitated; then with blinding speed a crystalline spear lanced out from one of the trees and pierced his chest. He retreated quickly and the Dendrons resumed their leisurely waving dance.

Harrylock tried shooting it, but the waving fronds were difficult to target. He attacked it full on; a mass of razor-sharp dendrites lanced into him; one snapped off and remained embedded in his leg. Galadiir threw several Ice Onslaughts; the main trunk cracked in several places but to his amazement they healed within a few minutes. A mass rush; using the carcass of the chicken as a diversion (animated by Galadiir’s Hedge Magic), saw Harrylock and Galadiir get hurt and Sonny only escaping by the skin of his teeth. They retreated to the other side of the plane to rest and recover.

“We can’t fight it, we can’t dodge it. How do we get past it?”

Galadiir rummaged in his pack and pulled out a Detonation Cypher (Singularity). “This might do it”.

“You’re going to set off a black hole with us at Ground Zero? Great plan, not.”

Sonny suddenly looked up. “We can’t fight it and we can’t dodge it. Maybe we have to THINK our way past it.” He went back into the next room and sat down, studying the Dendrons. At last he saw it; there was a pattern to the movements of the fronds. With careful thought, it should be possible to move through the ‘holes’ in the pattern. He got to his feet and ran forward; diving and twisting. He nearly made it; he rolled through the archway; but had a huge dendrite rammed through his forearm. As he watched; the flesh around the shard began to turn crystalline. Galadiir followed him and set about removing the dendrite; he managed to do so and it fell apart into glittering sand in his hands. Harrylock made it through safely and Galadiir removed the pieces of crystal in his leg. Harrylock needed some repair work doing and Sonny was able to step in and provide this.

Meanwhile, far to the north, Judson had reached Mulen. He stopped off at a tavern for a pint and a platter; then headed for Orrando’s house. Orrando welcomed him it and offered refreshment; then asked for news. When told of his son’s death and the manner in which he died; Orrando wept. He took the ring and paid over the agreed 40 shins. As a bonus; because they had killed the Vapes; he handed over a square of synth with a map on it.

“This was to be Rando’s inheritance. Now it is yours. Make good use of it”

Having rested for a short while; Harrylock, Galadiir and Sonny headed off down the ramp, which spiralled downwards, ending in an impossibly tall pentagonal chamber (at least 50m high). Black stone slabs covered every surface; deep within them could be seen miniature lightning bolts; like brain synapses firing. In the centre of the chamber were five pentangle – shaped stones, set in a pentagon. One had a curious five-part headset attached. There were no other exits.

Sonny’s danger sense was tingling “There’s something not right here”.

Galadiir pulled up the headset (it moved freely, but was somehow moulded to the stone), and put it on. It was a five-armed device and clearly not intended to fit a human skull. There was a soundless burst of light inside his head and he now knew how to turn the machine on and off at will as long as he was connected to it. He also knew that the machine could create any creature he was familiar with. He concentrated and in the centre of the pentagon began to form a tentacled chicken. The effort was a tremendous strain on Galadiir’s mind and he couldn’t hold the concentration; with a scream he jerked backwards and the chicken faded from view. He put on the headset again and turned the machine off.

“Wait”, called Sonny. “Everything is phasing out again and we’re going with it. Turn it back on.”

After some discussion involving rolling the detonation cypher down the spiral ramp (“it’ll probably turn round and roll back up”), they decided to turn the machine off; then use the Reality Spike to jam the headset down so that it couldn’t be used. Sonny elected to do this, as he had the best running ability; the others retreated back up the ramp. They dived past the Dendrons and through the chicken chamber; Sonny was hot on their heels. He lost his footing on the slippery egg mess and fell; Harrylock went back and dragged him out just as the spires phased out and the doorway vanished.

There was no sign of Soren or his boat; looking across to the shore, they saw that the village had gone as well.

“Everything was a creation of that machine. But what was it for and who turned it on again? Guess we’ll never know”.

Epilogue:

Sometime later they met up with Judson in Mulen. Judson paid over their share of the money and they studied the map.

“Orrando said it was Rando’s inheritance and that a great treasure was there”.

“Well, it appears to be an island off the coast, I’d estimate about fifty miles. We can get a boat.”

“It’ll need to be able to fly then. According to this; the island is three thousand feet up in the air.”

Next Adventure: The Hidden Price

 

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GM Notes

I need to work out the XP awards; they did gain some during the adventure but also spent a lot on re-rolls (in combat, so using extra Effort wasn’t an option).

Overall, everyone really enjoyed the Game. I found it really easy to run as GM, there are very few stats to keep track off and creatures / NPC’s are simple 1 or 2 line entries in my notes. This entire adventure fitted on both sides of a single sheet of A4!

I also made some reference cards with the creature artwork on out of the books so the players could have a visual reference. This went down well and I’ve got about 50 pieces of assorted artwork on index card that I can use. I am fully aware that the images are copyrighted and no challenge to that copyright is intended. If anyone has serious issues over this them please PM me.

The players loved the free-form descriptive nature and that they did all the die rolls. I started by telling them the level they had to beat; by the end they were working it out themselves. This has become our preferred Game and they can’t wait until the next session.

The Hidden Price is going to be (more or less) straight out of the rulebook. My next Adventure I’m working on is called In The Key of Time.

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