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Part 12: What Lies Beneath

Previously (Pt. 11) Home Next (Pt. 13)

Just because you don’t go looking for trouble…doesn’t mean it won’t come looking for you.

For reasons, only Rina’s and Joriah’s players could attend. To maintain the Challenge Rating, these players also controlled Tacitus and Ikkath.


Real Date: September 21, 2014

Game Date: 9th of November, a.r. 231, half past eight bells, morning (continued) (Day 9)

Chapter 51: Darkness Falls

SONY DSCNo sooner had the cherub uttered its unsettling warning than…something responded. What could only be described as a “beam of darkness” shone in the doorway leading from the monks’ quarters to the rest of the church. Within moments, it had filled the room they’d just left, creating a clear border of light and darkness where its edge fell. The adventurers slowly began edging away from the monk’s quarters, and towards the last room unexplored on that floor.  Seeing this, the cherub spoke once more, yelling loudly enough so everyone could hear.

Cherub: They’re over here! They’re in the extraction room!

With that, the small ceramic doll extended its jaw and began emitting an ear-splitting siren wail. As if in response, the wall of darkness suddenly began flowing in their direction, gobbling up the stone tiles it crossed.

Seeing this, the group turned and bolted for the door in the opposite direction. They had little idea what approached them in the center of that impenetrable shadow, but it would be nothing good.

The next and last room of that floor surrounded a wide stone stairway that sloped downwards; there were no other exits in sight. Tacitus and Joriah, who were faster on their feet (and not encumbered with giant shields) took the lead and leaped over the railing-less edge. The stairs only went down one floor, opening up onto a level reminiscent of church catacombs.

1305825824_www.nevsepic.com.ua_catacomb_sketch_by_spex84-d3apgap

shutterstock_18351541However, instead of individual alcoves or graves for residents, the walls themselves were built out of thousands upon thousands of human skulls and bones. Joriah immediately thought back to the first few minutes of his afterlife, when he and Rina had scaled down a tower built entirely of human skulls.

Tacitus, recoiling in surprise at the décor, moved a step further into the adjacent hallway. There were three doors on either side, before the hall turned at the far end. Through the closest, he could see a few workbenches, disassembled equipment, and two engineers chatting casually. So far, they hadn’t seemed to notice the nearby commotion.

Two heavy clangs behind him announced the arrival of the dwarf and orc, who too had landed on the steps. Last in the order, Rina had just made the short drop without stumbling and was looking to catch up with the quick mage, when a large heavy and furry body crashed into her from behind. She was thrown roughly to the stone steps, and the whole world around her went black.

Lost-in-the-Dark1Except for Tacitus, who remained at the edge of the effect, the entire party had been plunged into an impenetrable darkness. Ikkath the orc handled the sudden transition surprisingly well. Three facts quickly ran through his simple mind. First, even with his darkvision, he couldn’t see his hand in front of his face. Second, the magical light of his flaming axe did nothing to push away the darkness. Third, something had just landed directly behind him, and it definitely wasn’t Rina.

He spun in place and swung his ax blindly, grinning when he heard a surprised yelp and felt his weapon connect. Try hiding from that, he chuckled to himself.

Joriah:(hissing loudly) Tacitus! Hand me a light spell!

Though Tacitus and Joriah were no more than five feet apart, the sudden magical darkness made finding each other tricky. Luckily, Tacitus managed to fire off a Light spell and snag Joriah’s sleeve with it. Joriah sighed when the spell did nothing to restore his vision. He resorted to feeling along the walls to reconnect with Rina and Ikkath, grimacing each time his fingers drifted into an empty eye socket.

DMthoughtDemon-catDespite his earlier success, Ikkath was quickly learning that fighting a clever beast while blinded was tricky, to say the least. A heavy mass of fur and teeth hit him square in the chest, tearing through his flesh and knocking the wind from him. As he could not see his enemy, it was difficult to raise his shield in time. Ikkath gave a cry of fury and swung again, but the beast had already jumped backwards, and his ax passed through empty air. At least the struggle had served a purpose–Rina used the distraction to crawl away from the fight and get back on her feet.

DSC_0166Tacitus’s mind raced quickly. Magical darkness was not an easy remedy; it could be suppressed or dismissed by a spell of equal power, but he had yet not learned anything sufficient. Yet perhaps there was still one option–a magical beast, surrounded by friends who all sported magical items…

Tacitus: (while gesturing) Magicae deprehendere!

DMthoughtHis mind now alerted to the presence of any and all magical items, the wall of night in front of Tacitus suddenly became a moving picture of blurry, glowing figures. Remaining outside the blacklight so he could judge distances, Tacitus began barking directions and orders.

Tacitus: Rina! It’s five feet to your front and right! Ikkath! The same distance to your left and front! Joriah! Walk forward two steps, and watch for the foot of the stairs!

howling yowlerCatching on quickly, the party adjusted accordingly. Trusting Tacitus’s directions, Joriah stabbed forward with his rapier and too felt it hit home.

Enraged by its foes’ quick response and luck in finding and hitting it, the beast again edged backwards up the stairway and let loose with a fearsome howl. It shrieked with the force of a creature that had never seen natural light nor felt the warmth of the sun. Rina and Tacitus immediately shivered, but Ikkath and Joriah held their ground. They had already drawn blood from their foe, and they knew it was mortal.

Tacitus forced himself to regain his composure, then began calling out the creature’s position again. Waiting until clear directions were given, his friends moved in concert. Tempting fate, Joriah raised his rapier, called a blessing upon it to smite evil foes, and charged straight forward into the darkness.  And again, he beat the odds by solidly connecting. The conviction of his character, and his resolve to defend his friends, had served him well.

dismembered_baby_by_ironvenom-d3cedzlImmediately succumbing to yet another successful strike from Rina’s adamantine sword, the cloaked monster yowled in frustration and confusion. This group was far more concerted, coherent, and lucky than most prey it was accustomed to. It gave one last snarl of fury before withdrawing, racing back off into the depths of the Church.

Their eyesight once more restored, the party finished the battle by dismantling the sentry cherub that still shrieked its siren alarm above. Although it fluttered and hopped to escape, a quick concert of blows reduced it to a mangled pile of ceramic and wire.

The four adventurers resumed their travels below.

feral yowler

Feral Yowler (CR 5), MM3, with a permanent Blacklight ability replacing its Minor Displacement (Su).


Chapter 52: Foundations of an Empire

seal of veritan

The Great Seal of Gens Sanctum Veritatin

The Assembly Room

During the fight, the two engineers in the side room had paused, come to the door to investigate the commotion, and then hurried back to their chairs. Tacitus was sure they had not seen him, only the dark cloud of the beastly sentry; and he guessed security lock-downs were a common occurrence in the Church. (Or, at least, a drill they were accustomed to.) As far as he could see, the two engineers were still sitting nervously at their posts, awaiting the arrival of someone of authority.

Rina: Why don’t we just go in there and talk to them? Ask them what’s going on?

Tacitus: Because they had uniforms on, with the seal of Veritan on their shoulders! They’re not just commoners off the street. They’ll be looking for someone in authority.

Rina: Then we should give it to them.

Tacitus nodded and smiled in agreement. Having a little skill at personal disguise, and possessing a mask won from Quinn’s carnival, he decided to do just that. With luck, the two inside would believe a member of the clergy had come to double-check on them and end the alarm.

Comedy Disguise

You’ve failed me, clever disguise.

However, after he had donned the glasses and stepped into the room, he could quickly tell something was wrong. The two engineers (a male and female), instead of seeming relieved, suddenly went pale and rigid with fright.

DMthoughtMale engineer: Oh, hello, uh…sir. Everything’s fine in here! You should probably go check on the others!

Female engineer: Please don’t hurt us!

Tacitus sighed in disappointment, removed his magical disguise, and called for the rest of his troupe. They joined their sorcerer friend and their two newest hostages, touching the handles of their weapons menacingly. The two engineers only shook more noticeably at their entrance, and one’s pants visibly darkened.

Joriah: Sooo…whatcha guys doing in here?

VictorianCollections-largeMale engineer: (nervously glancing) Oh, you know…assembling stuff.

Joriah took a careful look around the room. In one corner, there was a small crate of vials containing silvery fluid–likely where the technicians brought the Quicksilver “collected” upstairs.

Various steeped solutions and foot-powered centrifuges illustrated the last steps of the process, which refined Incarnum into a more solid and potent fuel source.

At the end of the process, near where the engineers worked, there was a collection of light-colored gems. Though each was of a slightly different size and hue, there was no mistaking these: souls frozen in crystal.

Joriah: You must know full well what you’re doing here. You know how they make these gems, right?

fantasy-crystal-blue-green1

Alas, poor Yorick…

Male engineer: They…er…”extract” the substance from…subjects upstairs.

Joriah: “Subjects”?

Male engineer: Convicts, homeless, the diseased and insane…people society is better off without!

Rina: And you don’t care that they’re doing this to people? How would you like it if we stuck you there?

Male engineer:(shaking) Please! We have our jobs to do! If we don’t, they’ll arrest us and put us in those chairs!

Joriah: (gesturing at the six of them) I have a very hard time believing that you can not only sit idly by–but even help–as the Veritan government takes ghosts likes us and turns us into weapons!

There was a moment of sudden, double surprise–first, as the engineers realized that the four adventurers before them were, in fact, ghosts–and second, as the ghosts realized that the engineers were not.

Male engineer: Wait…you’re ghosts??

Joriah: And you’re not? How did you get here? How are you in the Shadow Realm without being dead?

Male engineer: Oh, uh, er…

Here, it seemed the man might have clammed up, if Rina had not stepped closer and demonstrated how her “tin” sword could cut through a wooden table top.

Male engineer: We came in through the Gate! Just like everyone else here! If you go down the hall, you can see it for yourself!

3876003-5721124324-magicdark ritualTacitus used the time spent in conversation to also explore the engineers’ workshop. One fact stood out immediately to him: many of the metallic pieces the engineers were assembling had runic symbols etched into them, likely by the members of clergy. Tacitus recognized these symbols; they were the runes that represented (or were) magic, and they were used in prepared spellbooks and scrolls.

These examples of Veritan “technology,” then–the powered armor, the gauntlets and swords, perhaps even the Steam Mares–were anything but technology. They were, at their most basic form, magic. The Church of Science was simply a great facade to misrepresent the truth about Veritan’s source of power.

But, it seemed, the Veritan villainy did not stop there. Knowing that true sorcery required a cost of blood, those in power found others to pay the price for them…victims subjected to tortures to extract their essences, which were then burned like coal to power the magical devices.

ce9c97ff5b36518af8d81330c3d818d5-d4tkofu136123322The four restless spirits might have been alarmed at these latest revelations, were it not for the fact they’d long had suspicions. The heralded Scientific Revolution of Veritan had seemed just a tad too rapid and a little too inexplicable.

A Detect Magic revealed there was only one magical item in the room (other than the equipment they wore)–a finished belt with the symbol of a winged foot on it. (It seemed the Veritan “technology” was not actually magical until it was fully-assembled.) The party discussed how best to use it; and in the end, it was given to Ikkath the orc.

 Rina: So what are you working on right now?

Male engineer: This…gauntlet?

Rina: FINISH IT. NOW.

DMthoughtLuckily for Rina, it would take only one hour of frantic assembly for the Veritan gauntlet to be finished, and Rina was willing to wait for her newest toy. While she and Ikkath stood guard over the enslaved engineers, Joriah and Tacitus decided to take stock of the rest of the floor.

incarnum testing room

Theoretical Applications

There were still two doors along the hallway to be explored, before it turned at the end. The first room seemed to be much like a apothecary’s lab. However, in addition to the standard chemist equipment, there were several used chalkboards, a sizeable collection of books and scrolls, and and stacks of hastily-scrawled notes. There were also quite a few dirty beakers, suggesting the lab was less a simplified assembly line (like the engineers’ room) and more used for experimentation.

A drafted letter to the Emperor himself, next to two jars of solid ointment, confirmed this theory.

can-this-ointment-be-used-for-ringworm…the “one soul, one gem” problem is an issue that has plagued our scientists since the beginning of the Scientific Revolution. Namely, that cross-contaminated samples of incarnum are useless for the purpose of refinement into power gems. No satisfactory theory has been presented to explain this phenomenon (save, that is, postulations regarding “souls”–delusions bred from ignorance and superstition).

Here in Theoretical Applications, we have been hard at work researching other uses for contaminated incarnum, which is usually simply discarded. I would like to present to Your Holy Eminence the next of a (hopefully) long-list of practical applications for this substance–namely, our Restorative Ointment! There are five applications per can, and each can heal a wide range of calamities, from mending broken bone and tissue to even removing poison and disease!

I humbly trust that our work here in the Church of Science is worthy of attention and praise, Your Royal Eminence. Each day we live to better advance the principles of Science you have so wisely founded our civilization upon.

Vivat Rex! Vivant et Scientia!

Joriah and Tacitus smiled as they pocketed the ointments. Good for the empire, better for them. They also made sure to sabotage a few of the numbers written on the chalkboards before they left.

early_game_concept__jail_cell_by_appylon-d5x6kdf

The Holding Cells

prison-bars-rusty-old

The second doorway along the hall was to a small cell block. Six tiny cells (each with their own wall-mounted brass ring) were set up to as temporary holds for whatever “subjects” the Church scientists required.

eyebarsPresently, only one was occupied, its denizen a poorly-groomed man of indeterminate age. The prisoner did not respond to hails or prodding. Judging by his the distant, glassy-eyed expression, prisoners here were drugged to make them more compliant. (The instruction sheets in the extraction room above certainly supported this conclusion.)

The cell door was locked, and Joriah and Tacitus had no easy way to open it. They quickly discussed finding or making a portal over to the physical realm, but quickly abandoned that idea. Even if they were successful, there would be little they could do there to open a cell door here. They decided to continue their explorations, coming back if they found something useful.

The Gateway

gatewayAfter it turned to the right, the stone hallway ended in a large room fifty feet on a side. The need for the space became readily obvious, as Joriah and Tacitus observed a large, circular, ring-like object standing on a platform in the direct center. Curious runes and script were etched along its perimeter; and despite Tacitus’s extensive knowledge of languages, none of the shapes were familiar.

To the immediate left of the arch, a man sat (sedated and bound) into a very familiar and sinister-looking chair. Cables from the chair fed into the circular construction. There was no intermediary incarnum collection here; the man’s essence would be directly extracted and used to power the device.

To the immediate right, two technicians on separate consoles checked and rechecked their instruments. While they worked, a disembodied voice emanated from their consoles.

Chief engineer: The subject has been properly secured in the extraction chair and all readings are nominal. We are prepared to begin the procedure on our end, Light Side.

Voice: Roger that, Dark Side. We’ve nearly secured our subject on our end as well. As soon as the lieutenant confirms the equipment is ready to be moved, we’ll initiate the countdown.

If what Joriah and Tacitus remembered from the engineers was correct, this was the “gateway” that the Veritans used to cross over to and from the Shadow Realm–much like any ghost could do with a proper mirror.

Joriah: Interesting…if these humans can cross directly over to the Shadow Plane through this gate without incident, what would happen if we were to use it to go back the other way? Would we turn into ghosts like normal, or…?

The question was left unanswered, and the two decided to reconnect with their friends in the engineer lab. Whatever was going to happen in the gateway room, it was going to happen very soon.


Chapter 53: Enemy at the Gates

lightning bolt gauntletWhile the two others were gone, Ikkath and Rina had overseen the engineers’ construction of the gauntlet. Rina did her own search of the lab at that time, scooping a number of incarnum-laden crystals into her Handy Haversack. She enjoyed toying around with jury-rigging on her spare time, and these could come in handy.

As luck would have it, the gauntlet was just finished when Joriah and Tacitus returned from their exploration. The male engineer confirmed that yes, there was a key for the cell doors in the jail, but it was held by the chief engineer. This was likely the more bearing of the men seen in the gateway room, and Joriah and Tacitus quickly explained what was happening there.

Joriah: There’s a man about to die, so we should hurry if we want to do something about it.

Rina: Great! And I just got this new gauntlet! (waves it around at the engineers) Maybe I should try it out first on you two though…make sure it works and all.

Engineers: It works! It works! Please be careful where you point that thing! It’s very dangerous!

After some discussion, it was decided that the group would NOT kill the engineers. Instead, they used an extra silk rope Joriah had to tie them to a chair.

Rina: But won’t they know we were here, when they find and interrogate these two?

Joriah: They already know we’re here, from the ruckus we’ve caused. (And if they don’t, they’re definitely about to…)

Rina took the make-shift shield tower she normally carried on her left arm and strapped it to her back. Then, with the new Veritan gauntlet on her left arm, and her “tin” bastard sword now grasped with both hands, she and the party were ready to step into the fray.

stargate_sg_1_title_wallpaper__no_logo_version__by_syl4r32-d5d1e18DMthoughtThe pace had certainly stepped up in the gateway room since Joriah and Tacitus had scouted it. The chief engineer and his assistant were standing attentively at their controls while a voice relayed from “Light Side” counted down slowly.

Voice: 36…35…34…

orc_by_anssiart-d3y90beIf the four spirits were to successfully ambush the engineers (and save the victim) before the gate opened, they would have one shot to get it right. Tacitus made sure to enlarge Ikkath the orc and his flaming ax before they edged to the end of the hallway. They halted at the entrance into the gateway room, just before they would be seen.

Voice: 30…29…28…

Muttering under his breath, Tacitus wove a spell as quietly as he could. Abruptly, from the shadows in the center of the gate, a shadow monkey leaped into being. It glanced around itself for a moment, then chattered angrily at the nearby technicians.

Assistant: Uh, sir? Is that monkey supposed to be there?

The two technicians were so befuddled by the sudden appearance of the monkey that they failed to notice the massive orc. The first heavy strike of the oversized ax nearly clove the chief engineer clearly in two. He was thrown to a blood-splattered heap, some distance from his console.

At this point, hell began to break loose in several different ways. Rina veered in the opposite direction from the orc (and toward the subject in the chair). The straps on the victim could be undone fairly easily, but it would take time they didn’t have. Also, a sudden flutter of movement in the nearby dark corners caught her eye.

a010b105f9b9ac5eb87f5165e8418e28Rina: Cherubim! Four of them! Up in the corners of the room!

Realizing they were under attack, the assistant technician yelled out a warning.

Assistant: Light Side! We’re under attack!

Voice: Er, roger that, Dark Side. Continue the procedure at all costs. We have reinforcements standing by on our side.

Understanding it was imperative to shut down the gateway before it could activate, Joriah rushed with his rapier at the assistant. Eyes widening at the oncoming elf, the assistant slammed his finger against a button on his console and stepped back, hands raised. The procedure now appeared to be running automatically.

Infuriated by the sudden interference, the four cherabim hissed in anger and swooped in to attack.

Voice: 24…23…22…

Seeing that the chief engineer was still moving feebly, Ikkath strode until he was standing directly over his quivering body. He struck again and again with his giant ax, until all that remained of the unfortunate scientist was a gory mess across the stones.

lightning gauntlet

As per the Lightning Bolt spell (5d6 electricity, DC 17 Reflex for half), at will!

Though the assistant had stepped back from the controls, Rina’s gauntlet wasn’t going to test itself out on its own. She lined up her shot (as best as she could) and pressed the largest button on the side.

Rina felt her entire left arm shudder under the force of the discharge. The entire room briefly lit up as a lightning bolt erupted from her device, lanced through the air towards the unfortunate assistant, and continued directly through his chest and into the far wall. The assistant immediately collapsed to the ground, smoke billowing from a charred patch on his front and back.

Joriah glowered in response. With the lead engineer dead and his assistant unconscious, it would be rather difficult to press them for how to stop the gateway activation.

Best-top-desktop-horror-wallpapers-hd-horror-wallpaper-picture-image-photo-19Meanwhile, the four cherubim descended in a flurry of teeth and hate. They tore at each of the party’s hair and face, seeking purchase for their razor-sharp claws. It had been easier when there had been one against the entire party. Now there were four, and the spirits were already distracted.

Voice: 18…17…16…

Tacitus fired one, then another, round of Magic Missiles into the closest cherub (currently harassing Rina). He was surprised at its resilience; bits of ceramic and metal flew with each impact, but the construct did not slow one iota in its attacks.

23cc5e61a5c289fb26c9a879a7f11eceRina, on the other hand, had moderately more luck fighting against the blood-thirsty dolls. Understanding that Joriah was currently their best chance of halting the process, she yelled for him to duck, then carefully aimed her shot. This time, a scream echoed inside her head–a scream not unlike the cacophony of shrieks from the cherubim. She shook it off quickly and was pleased to see an explosion of parts from the cherub’s form. Still, despite the punishment, it held together and flew at Joriah again.

Motion #2DMthoughtWhile Rina engaged the nearby cherub, Joriah moved to the control panel. He tried to remember which button he’d seen the assistant last push; a few random presses were unsuccessful in halting the impending activation. Before he could locate the correct button, a sudden searing pain ripped through Joriah’s back, and he collapsed limp to the floor. A chattering cherub danced gleefully over his unconscious form.

DMthoughtIkkath too swatted at two cherubim that had chosen him for their plaything. Enlarged as he was, it was difficult to hit the small, buzzing contraptions as they zipped about him. Remembering that his belt had the image of a foot with wings on it, he slapped it expectantly. However, instead of rising into the air, his actions suddenly blurred; and time around him seemed to slow down. He was now under the effects of a personalized Haste spell.

Voice: 12…11…10…

Weeping-Cherub

The Veritan “Cherubim”–based off of the MM3’s Windscythe (CR4), scaled down to Small, and with the Undead Construct template

With merely ten seconds to stop the activation of the gateway, and with one of their party already bleeding out on the floor, the situation was quickly turning dire. Tacitus let loose a third volley of Magic Missiles into the cherub near Rina. Though the construct seemed heavily damaged, it still failed to drop; Tacitus could not recall his last opponent that could survive nine total Magic Missile bolts to the face.

2For once, no one told Ikkath not to smash things. Seeing Joriah slumped over the other console, Ikkath bellowed in fury and brought his ax down squarely into the controls of the chief engineer. His Veritan belt granted him three full swings, and he was rewarded with a shower of sparks, a decrease in the ambient hum, and worried cries from “Light Side.”

Voice: Dark Side! Come in! The procedure’s been interrupted! What’s your status? Come in, Dark Side!

Ikkath had only a moment to gloat. The two vicious cherubim descended upon him again, and he felt consciousness melt away in whirlwind of blade edges. The giant orc crashed face-first into the remains of the controls, his ebbing blue mist mingling with the sparks of the destroyed console.

The screams of the damned.

The screams of the damned.

Rina and Tacitus shared a grim glance. They had discorporated before as spirits–but never in the heart of the Veritan empire. It was only a guess that’d they’d wake up again, safe, somewhere else. And it would be best not to test that theory. Rina sent a second bolt of lightning arcing through the cherub over Joriah…again feeling a sudden scream of torture in her mind, and again failing to see her target drop.

Things did not begin looking up for the heroes until the next few moments, in which they were finally able to down their first cherub. While Tacitus conjured forth two fresh monkeys to clutter the ground and distract them, Rina positioned herself so that she could hit two cherubim with a single bolt. Her aim was true, her blast carried from target to target, and the furthest construct exploded in a shower of ceramic, sprockets, and…blood? But the sudden screams inside Rina’s mind did not end this time; and she collapsed to the ground, holding her temple with her hands.

DMthoughtFor each time Rina had fired her Veritan gauntlet, a trapped soul inside was burnt alive for fuel. And the weight of her actions had finally taken its toll.

camazotz_and_hun_came_by_abelardo-d36gi2xAt this point, Tacitus decided that he’d had enough of summoning fragile distractions and conjured a single fiendish dire bat–a creature that would be able to keep pace with the cherubim in the air. Between Tacitus’s Magic Missiles, Rina’s lightning gauntlet, and the pressure from the flying shadow monster bat, the two remaining spirits were able to dispatch the remainder of the cherubim.

It took a several applications of the ointments before both Joriah and Ikkath were conscious and back on their feet (albeit still significantly injured). Rina was mostly fine, physically, though her mind was still spinning.

Judging by the squawking still emanating from the intact console, it was high time the four of them made their escape. Besides the two engineers they’d already restrained, there could still be any number of other guards or winged monstrosities still in the depths of the Church.

(The spirits did not forget to untie the “subject” strapped to the deactivated gate, nor to search the chief engineer’s body for the key to the cells. The prisoners were awake but obviously drugged; and Tacitus and Rina each used a free shoulder to help them stand.)

vault 2

The vaulted doors leading from the gateway room.

rubinke_2There were three other exits to the gateway room, one for each wall. However, each was sealed by a fifteen-foot-tall gear-shaped door that slid on tracks. Controls next to the doors suggested they were locked. Nevertheless, the four paused quickly to reach the signs above each one, printed in both High Latin and common: “To the Sanatorium,” “To Street Level,” and “To Storage.”

logo1-lighthouses-of-the-worldLuckily, there was another open and unguarded circular staircase that also led to street level. Checking periodically behind them to make sure they were unfollowed, the heroes prepared to aid the drugged prisoners in ascending to the street above.

However, there was one more (and unfortunate) detail that caught the edge of Tacitus’s eye. His earlier impression had not been incorrect; the nearest deposed cherub WAS oozing a trickle of dark fluid. It seemed grotesquely familiar, and Tacitus stepped closer to inspect. What he found horrified him to his core.

Inside each cherub poppet was a fully-formed–but long dead–tiny human infant. And at least one looked as if it hadn’t even finished developing.


Chapter 54: Spirited Flight

louisville-17As Joriah had noticed earlier (when he had gazed out the doors of the Church’s northern entrance), the Murmuring Monks kept to the main streets of the actual city. Though they strengthened the images of the buildings they passed, they did not touch the insides of most the structures. Save the occasional building where lights showed, most of the houses were empty shells (or, even, simply facades).

The group found a building to rest in that had at least all four walls.

While they took turns pulling watches, guarding those who slept, Rina meditated on this latest turn of events. Her left arm, where she wore the gauntlet, was red and swollen, its veins standing out like blue scars. The screams inside her head had all but disappeared. But she couldn’t shake the feeling that, whatever she had happened to her (and whatever she had done) wouldn’t be remedied by a simple visit to Quinn’s food stands. Her soul itself recoiled under the weight of her actions, and she could only guess what choices would present themselves in time.

Rina spent the night contemplating her future.

girl with skull


As a result of this session, the following sourcebooks and info pages were unlocked or updated:

New:
Taint in Dark Haunt
Loot Logs

Updated:
Creating a Character (Soulborn class improvements)
Undead Construct Template

Previously (Pt. 11) Home Next (Pt. 13)

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