Monday, December 28, 2020

House of Worms, Session 208

Once the characters, accompanied by the division of Naqsái soldiers, set out, doubts started to creep into their minds regarding their present undertaking. The maelstrom at the center of the ruins of Pichánmush had clearly grown in size since the last time they had observed it several months ago. The number of Vorodlá flying around it had also increased and Znayáshu now worried that they were ill equipped to deal with the matter. More to the point, he wasn't even sure what it was they would do once they got close to the maelstrom. They simply lacked sufficient information to get any sense of what the maelstrom was, why it was there, what role the Vorodlá played (if any), and whether they should interfere at all. Much discussion among the characters followed, assessing their options. 

While this was transpiring, Kirktá sought out high ground, climbing to the top of one of the shorter ruined buildings in order to get a better view of the maelstrom. He succeeded in this and noticed a couple of details that had not been clear before. First, though the characters had taken to calling it a maelstrom or vortex, the phenomenon was not truly a storm, but instead the result of some kind of planar fissure that was sucking things from the ruins into itself. Kirktá observed that bits and pieces of ruined masonry and rubble were being pulled into the maelstrom rather than blown away from it. Second, he noted that the Vorodlá were trying to keep their distance from the maelstrom. They were trying, not always successfully, Kirktá noticed, to stay close to but away from the effects of the vortex. From this, he surmised that the flying undead creatures were perhaps patrolling the area near it rather than guarding or protecting it, as was initially thought. 

Kirktá presented his findings to the other characters, which led to more discussion, followed by the decision, advanced by Znayáshu and supported by Nebússa, that they should search the nearby ruins for more information that might help them make an informed decision on how act. Clearly, things were not as straightforward as they had hoped. The characters fanned out and began seeking still intact ruined buildings. One such building was found and searched thoroughly, revealing evidence that a group of people had previously set up camp here. A more careful examination of the place uncovered twine and waxed paper used by the Granite Lintel clan of Linyaró to wrap travel rations. This suggested that whoever had stayed in the ruins, they were Tsolyáni, or at least people who had passed through the Tsolyáni colony on their way to Pichánmush.

Another nearby building contained a fascinating intact room that once held four plaster statues that were humanoid in shape. Two of them had been shattered beforehand, while two remained largely intact. The two statues depicted reptilian creatures standing on two legs. The characters immediately thought of both the Shén, who maintain a colony of their own called Shüggar and with whom they have had dealings in the past, and the Naqsái deity of Eyenál, who is traditionally depicted as a repitilian being (and who seemed, until recently, chosen Aíthfo as his agent on Tékumel). However, the statues looked decidedly different from both of these, having a had more reminiscent of the Rukétra, a local six-legged lizard that dwelled along the banks of inland rivers throughout the Achgé Peninsula.

Further examination of the room revealed a red-brown rectangle painted on the floor in between the four statues. Nebússa also noted that the two remaining statues appeared to be hollow and, when tilted, showed evidence of something being inside them. Boldly, he smashed one of the statues and discovered a thick glass globe about the size of his fist, inside of which was a yellowish viscous substance. This led him to smash the second surviving statue, inside of which he discovered a cylinder of similar material, inside of which was a bluish liquid of a more watery consistency. Both containers were sturdy and resistant to damage. Nebússa suspected that this was to prevent accidental breakage in the event that they were dropped, which in turn led him to suspect that their contents were toxic or otherwise dangerous. Subsequent examination of the room uncovered a store of more of the glass globes beneath the two other statues, but they were empty. How the liquid they once held had been removed was unclear, since the globes were intact and there was no sign of an opening or aperture anywhere on their surfaces.

Puzzled and a little frustrated by the lack of information gleaned from their explorations, Znayáshu suggested that they seek out a larger building, one that gave the appearance of being of civic importance. In their previous visit to Pichánmush, they had learned that beneath the ruins were a series of a manmade tunnels, created in imitation of the Ancients' tubeway car system, allowing travel away from the oppressive heat of the Peninsula (which is close to Tékumel's equator, where temperatures can reach 50° Celsius). Some of these tunnels even connected with the tubeway car system itself. Access to these tunnels was usually located in larger buildings within the city, hence Znayáshu's suggestion.

After a little while, the group found a likely candidate: a large building with two partially intact porticos and a shattered rear half. As they got closer to the ruined half, they heard loud clacking sounds from multiple locations. Scouting ahead, Nebússa saw around a dozen large creatures with green carapaces, six legs, and powerful scissor-like mandibles – Dlaqó! The Dlaqó were feasting on the corpses of multiple dead bodies that, on first glance, appeared to be Tsolyáni, which only increased the characters' interest in the situation. Preparing for battle, they made their way into the building to face the giant carrion beetles.

1 comment:

  1. I skipped to the last paragraph. I’m caught up. Who’s rolling initiative tonight?