Part One – What time is it?
Leaving Thaeling Lake far behind, the Wayfarers journeyed north towards Navarene. Whilst passing through the Dark Hills, a heavy jellrain storm caused them to shelter in a wayside hostel. Whilst talking over a meal, the barkeep offered some information. A heavily armed and armoured group of Varjellens came through here about five days ago. They were looking for someone called Sonny Silver. After the storm had passed they continued onwards, finally reaching Shallamas on 1st Tor.
Standing on a ridge about a mile from the city; they looked in wonder at it. Shallamas was oval, ringed by a metal wall. Slender metal towers jutted up from the wall at regular intervals, each was topped by a metal globe. From the centre of the city rose a taller tower, topped with a larger globe. Faintly on the breeze came the strong smell of ozone.
In the city, they went to the nearest hostel that had rooms to rent; The Pub of Ubbub*. Speaking with the barkeep they learnt that Shallamas was prone to echoes; flashbacks to past events. The events were factored into law and could be used as evidence.
“Has anything strange happened to you recently? We’ve heard tales of people getting younger overnight.”
“Actually, yes it has. Only this morning I had wiped down the glasses and arranged them on the trays when I found myself wiping down the glasses and arranging them on the trays.”
Galadiir puzzled over this and went to take a pull on his drink. To his surprise he found it to be empty; as did Judson and Harrylock. They bought another round from the barkeep, who did not recall serving them before.
(Meanwhile, Sonny looked around in amazement. He was in a scientific area; a laboratory of some kind full of apparatus he didn’t recognise. He saw himself and three Varjellens who lay dead and he was just smashing the skull of the fourth. As the echo faded, the man looked up and Sonny saw that it was not him; but someone who looked identical to him.)
Back in the Pub of Ubbub, they decided to head out of the city and check out the woods. Judson led the way out, he appeared to stumble in the doorway
(Judson looked around. He had not stepped out into the street; he was in a scientific area, a laboratory of some kind. Four dead Varjellens lay on the floor; Sonny stood over them with a bloody longsword. The echo faded into the street of Shallamas.)
They headed towards the woods; there were some curious conical hills at intervals** Many of these had thin five-sided needles pointing up from their flat summits. Judson climbed one; it was not an easy climb. The summit was flat, about 30’ across. The five-sided needle, again about 30’high, emerged from a pit in the summit. It did not touch the sides and there was no visible means of support. Judson touched the pillar; it flexed slightly but did not move. He used his arm to reach down the pit; it was deeper than he could reach. He pulled his verred and struck the needle. Immediately, he wished he hadn’t. A shrieking agony of pain lanced through his skull and he fell to the ground. From somewhere came a thin whining sound; increasing in pitch and growing in intensity. The needle began to slowly sink into the pit
“What have you done?” yelled Galadiir. Down on the ground, the others could clearly hear the sound as well. Judson climbed and then half-fell down the hill to the ground. The sound reached a shrieking crescendo and then the needle launched out of the hill. The acceleration was phenomenal; even before it cleared the top of the hill it had gone hypersonic and vanished into the sky.
Judson rested and then they made their way back to Shallamas as dusk was setting in. From head came a woman crying: –
“Help me, please help. My son needs help.”*** Out onto the road ran a woman, dark-haired, in her 40’s. She led the way to a moderate house set back from the road.
“My son is on the couch in the living room.”
Galadiir went inside; as did Sonny. Judson and Harrylock waited outside. On the couch was an old man in his 60’s.
“Where’s your son?” Galadiir was puzzled. “This man is older than you.
“That is my son. He went out to play this morning and came back like that.
Galadiir sat beside the old man and talked with him. The man still thought that he was ten years old. He went to play in the woods where he found a cave, He went to explore but some skull-headed men started shooting black beam rays and some men in orange and purple robes fought back. At the back of the cave was a black door and he went through this. There were lots of tunnels and rooms, it took him a long time to get back to his home again, and now he is dying.
Meanwhile, outside the house; Harrylock and Judson were talking when suddenly Harrylock was bitten by something massive. They briefly glimpsed it; a huge serpentine creature of shadow. The fight was tough; both Harrylock and Judson were badly hurt by the time Sonny stepped forward. He dealt the creature a heavy wound and Judson’s right hook to the face finished it off. Strangely, it dissolved into a million shards of dissolving darkness.
They rested then returned to the Pub of Ubbub to spend the night.
The day dawned with an overcast sky and light rain falling. They breakfasted and then headed north to the wood to find the cave that the man / boy had spoken about. Near to the gate, Sonny visited a public lavatory; a good job as he was out of sight when a party of armed and armoured Varjellens marched out of a side street and headed off into the city.
“Do you think those are the same ones that are hunting Sonny?”
“Don’t know. All Varjellens look the same to me.”
After a couple of hours into the woods, they came to a clearing in front of a wall of rock. A regular-shaped cave was in the cliff; the clearing was pock-marked with small craters and burnt vegetation. A smell of burning was in the air. Galadiir walked towards the cave; a small golden sphere flew out of the cave and exploded in a shower of golden sparks. Two others quickly followed; Galadiir barely threw himself out of the way in time. Judson notched and shot an arrow into the cave; Harrylock shot his wrist x-bow. They ran for the cave; more of the golden spheres flew out over their heads. Glancing behind they saw a howling mass of goat-headed abhumans emerging from the woods – Margr! They carried fist-sized black ovoids that projected black beams of energy. They made it to the cave except for Harrylock, who refused to run. He speeded up a little when several black rays hit him at once and he took some damage. Inside the cave, Galadiir made to light a glowglobe.
“Don’t do that”, hissed a voice. “They’ll see us if you light the cave.”
Crouching in the entrance were three figures; they raised small stubby weapons and launched a spray of golden globes at the Margr. Judson and Harrylock shot off their bows and Galadiir took out the remaining two with an Ice Blast.
Galadiir lit his glowglobe; the others wore the orange, black and purple of the Order of Truth (Aeon Priests).
“Why were they attacking you?”
“We think they were trying to get back though the door – that’s where they came from.”
At the back of the cave was a carved structure of grey stone, resembling an hourglass. The centre area was fugilin, a colour darker than black
“Let’s see what’s there then” said Galadiir and stepped into the portal. The others followed him, as did the Aeon Priests. They emerged in a circular chamber, two passages led off into darkness. In the chamber were some cot beds and travel gear, a small heater / stove and a glow globe.
“I am Tevarus”, said one of the Priests. “Welcome to our camp. Who are you?”
– To be Continued –
* The FM were making lots of jokes about the City of Echoes
** Think of a 90’ tall inverted plant pot covered in very short grass.
*** Their first paranoid reaction was “it’s Leema”.
Our first Numenera Game for a few weeks and everyone really enjoyed it. We all like the Game-system and the players are becoming expert at estimating what level a creature or challenge is.
Use of language: I am currently reading Gene Wolfe’s ‘Severian of the Guild’ and love how all of the weird and strange words he uses in the text are not made up. All of them are real words from different languages that are now not used. I think it is a good way to convey the ‘weirdness’ of the Ninth World.
Also; I would urge everyone to listen to “The Astonishing”, the latest studio album by Dream Theater. It is a prog – metal musical concept album and is SO Numenera, even down to the artwork