The new game (April 2014) began with Triangularus in the Year of the Dragon, CY 487. A fell time worsened from the previous 60 years passed by the unexpected advent of a vast nexus storm. A storm that wreaked terrible destruction upon Arduin with its arrival. Empowered by Triangularus the storm lingered over Arduin with destructive consequences.
But that's the boring version. Here's something a bit less droll.
No son of Arduin or of its world walks ignorant of Triangularus. Be it man, elf, monster or beast in the field. It comes but once every 60 years. A cycle long enough that often times a generation of men or two may pass without the sight of the three moons in triangle formation gracing the starry sky. The cosmic event takes all the world in its grip, opening nexus gates otherwise closed and aligning them to the outer worlds known in Arduin as the hells. No single hell nor even nine has Arduin but 30 and more. All of them crawling with things that no one living should ever have to meet. It's a bad time of bad times rivaled only by the Black Equinox, which thankfully comes on an even longer cycle.
All seek a place of harbor.
In most lands far from Arduin the night is little but a short space of terror, a miasma of lingering antediluvian fears that brings little to emboldened that dark space. They sigh relief come the morning after and thank Saren the sun god for a new dawn. Those closer to Arduin or within its mountainous boundaries face a different, more deadly time. Nobles and those with means travel as far from Arduin's borders as they can to seek out safer ground. For in Arduin it is the worst. There the nexus gates that provide Arduin's bounty turn into its deepest vulnerability. Those in the countryside come to the cities and towns or shelter in place behind thick walls or in deeper cellars. The cities and towns are the safest. They have sprung up in areas where nexus are less numerous, if at all.
Leiberton was no exception.
A walled town in northeast Arduin along the king's road, Leiberton is the hometown to several local beers whose taste and desire have spread like wildfire across Arduin and other countries. Not to mention its alchemical laboratories and golems.
Lots of golems.
Leiberton had a policy, the same that many towns had. A policy to bolster its defenses by hiring mercenaries or even enticing travelers with the right scent of reward to stay for Triangularus. Which was how Úzgari Ironjaw found his way from the Orc Treatied Lands in the west of Arduin. He was passing through on his way farther north when he was enticed by the golden glint of talk and endless food and drink. He supplemented the core of the force that would stay above during the night. Those brave few would ensure that anything getting past the golems would fall to their hands and not ravage the town. Chiktik the Silver, a phraint mercenary stayed for similar reasons. Perhaps more of the thought of gleaning technology from the city folk than the glimmer of gold. Raschid, was late to depart Arduin like the rest of the nobility. He chose to stay in Leiberton rather than try to escape in the short time before Triangularus. Phelan and Sven DiamondEye, co-mayors of the town were glad of his presence. A master of the ancient runeweaver traditions, his power would serve well during the night. Sklarda was more an engima: a deodanth of unknown power and designs? Her addition would be a gift or maybe a curse that only time would tell.
They were not alone.
Others joined for reasons the same or differing. Anlorn came back from the frosted north from his 28 year stint in the mercenary company of the Northern Vord. He would rather stand with family in the town, ensuring their endurance than wait with mercenary brothers in some unknown land. Filimine was more sanguine. She came out of boredom and a chance to visit death without the law giving a care. Zuchin, a magic master out of Khurahaen chose to stay to continue his studies when the night passed rather than depart and need to travel back. Conn Z'ofier, follower of the Sun God arrived to be a light in the darkness.
Many more beyond naming.
Everyone waited the pause between the sun's rise and fall across the sky in different ways. Most stockpiled what they might need and reinforced the walls between them in the darkness. Those who chose to stay out in the night made ready in their different ways. Most looked to the sky as it rumbled and churned with thunderous clouds. They watched the spidery displays of light from lightning. It was rare to see of clouds on Triangularus when the nights were usually clear but the moons burned behind them clear enough.
The moons aligned and the storm broke all in a single instance. Those outside felt it like no other and as one knew this would be a Triangularus as never before recorded.
Nexus cracked the air and the sky raining like drops from the sky joining the hundreds that opened around and within the town. Triangularus had begun and on its heels came a nexus storm whose maelstrom birthed nexus like drops of rain.
Battle was conjoined instantly, blood blazoning the earth as beings fell and alien poured from the gates and tears in reality. No time for thought existed. Only the swing of blade, the pump of blood and blazing of magic and mind. Even those shivered in the booms and sky ripping displays of technology. It was like a scene out of the battles of antiquity.
In the chaos of battle few noticed the great yawning nexus that formed out of raindrops of tears in fabric of reality. It hovered over the town for a few moments mixing the rain of two worlds and the light of its 7 moons to Arduin's triune moons before dissolving. Such event was not alone - nexus danced into being all around, spinning like jewels in the rain before dissolving, exploding or wrenching open to disgorge all manner of beings.
To the defenders the scene was of no import as they fought to stay alive. The golems were overran in the blink of an eye – rendered useless with a wave of energy that swept the town, muting technology everywhere. The effect didn't last but a stray chunk of rock the size of small building took out the portion of the town that had the direction/reset switch for them.
The defenders weathered on and amazing feats of bravery occurred to quell the hellish invaders that scourged the town, eclipsed only by the greater heroics that followed. Time pressed on relentlessly until all paused. Defenders and few living foes alike look around realizing the pause for an intake of breath before something new came into being. The new was a wave of muroid, akin to upright rats mixed with all manner of beings. They crashed over the town and its inhabitants overrunning friend and foe alike. While they freely engaged in battle none stopped long seemingly fleeing from something more deadly than the life stealing blades of the defenders. That thing revealed itself shortly as out of the billowing clouds that were engulfing the town blew the horror of the Change Wind. Everything it touched contorted from its true shape to something else. What was left died or howled for death from the bizarre shapes they had taken.
Our focus, however, is with a small group of the defenders, who out of desire for survive banded into a merciless machine of destruction. Úzgari, Chiktik, Raschid, Sklarda, Anlorn, Filimine, Zuchin, and Conn. They were not alone, but stood as the core of the larger group, its heart and soul that kept them striving through the darkness. Their bravery kept the northwest side of the town free most of the night. In fact, they only retreated back towards the center rally point after a massive tree spun into being, ripping apart and replacing a building they were using as a defensive point. Chaos favored them that moment and its arrival harrowed their enemies more than the defenders. The fighting back to the retreat point was a blur of action and time inhibited by the thick fog and cloud. Nothing, not even the night sky and the triune moons were visible.
As sudden as it began, it ended.
Only 12 out of the near two hundred that had volunteered to stay above ground survived. It was a somber moment and in it the realization that the greatness and unity they had shared in the face of annihilation would fade and by doing so, they would become something lesser.
Úzgari was the first to break the silence the rumble of his gut echoing in the clear silence. It was the trigger that broke them all apart as the few looked at each other one more time and then slipped away to rest, recuperate and find what shreds of humanity still remained.
Time was slippery in the after of the battle and days slid into a week before any knew it, especially with the dawning realization that they were cut off. The mist and fog never retreated. Its presence provided an insidious barrier to communication beyond the town. It also confounded any attempts to exit.
None that tried the mist returned.
Also, beyond the carnage inflicted by Triangularus, a curiosity had joined the giant tree. A great metal building, sheathed in iron and humming with energy towered in place of the golden manses that had once been the jewel of the noble quarter.
Numerous tests were undertaken to what had occurred. Raschid was involved in some, his intellect and knowledge of runeweaving not to mention his noble status made his inclusion unquestionable. While their attempts led to nothing, Raschid did sense something profoundly chaotic in the mist, silently echoed by his own heart, not that he let this on to the others. Conn, the follower of Saren, the solar deity had his own suspicions of Raschid, one he did not share outside of his disapproving air.
The others were involved in other duties: policing up stragglers from the invasion or handling the disposition of the dead. When someone landed on the idea of fishing with dead bodies in the mist, all but Raschid volunteered to help. More out of boredom from piling up the dead than anything else.
Raschid was trying to pry secrets from the odd building made of metal. He was not alone but he had more success than others, employing his rune knowledge of metals to call out its true name to give up its secrets. It complied, speaking to him of its many layers of wafer-thin iron, there to be burned off as it moved through space and grew hot. Something easily replenishable as a resource. Its inside was vast, full of intricate machinery, some metal, some other materials and maybe a part flesh. Raschid sought more but some intellect, cold and callous but bright with awareness ejected him. Further attempts to discern knowledge were met with the same rapid ejection.
Fishing, however, was bearing fruit. For the most part casting the corpses into the mist was grisly but necessary business, since they were the only things cast out that seemed to occasionally come back. Once such cast brought back a body and something right behind it.Anthropomorphic but large, ogre in size and girth, thickly covered in horned carapace. This specimen had seen some damage, its horned protuberances that decorated the arms, shoulders and spine were torn and broken on its left side. That did not impede its ability to reach over its shoulders and grasp two large bones, curved and thick, like the leg bones of a mastodon. Its bloodthirsty expression and menacing air left little doubt as to its thoughts. It next act to bludgeon the life from one of their team members nearby erased any lingering questions.
Chiktik and Úzgari engaged it first though Sklarda had elected to bide her time for the right moment, probing its form with psychic powers. Chiktik brought forth his wide-mouthed cannon (thick blunderbuss++) and let loose with a blast of nails, peppering its hide and blinding it in one eye. Úzgari got a chunk of it with a hand ax he threw as he unlimbered his ax and moved to engage. In the rather chaotic melee that ensued, Chik fired off his pistols, winging it more, Úzgari got it in the gut with his ax, hitting with a greater modicum of strength thanks to Sklarda increasing his inertia and speed with her mental powers right as he struck. Under a flurry of follow up blows it fell, Úzgari taking its head with one great blow of his ax. It flew and bounced, trailing the normal disgusting slime of gore and strange metallic lines like wires.
Securing the scene, they quickly figured out it had some form of squid/jellyfish parasite that nestled on its spine and sent filament tendrils throughout its muscularity and nerves. This seemed worth reporting and Chiktik took control of it. Rejoining Raschid who reported for them to the town mayors they puzzled over the strange creature before setting it aside. Chiktik, not one to leave anything made sure the "set aside" was into the bag he had brought it in and back to his belt.
While fanning out to rest, Raschid considered several options and chose to drop into a meditative trance and let his chaotic nature guide his next move. It was, in great parts, why he had chosen to stay in Leiberton. In a short time it pulled him to his feet and out into the town though he knew it not. Sklarda, interested, followed. When she saw him walk into thin air and disappear. Only to reappear on the top of a building nearby. Intrigued, she followed with greater interest. In quick succession he stepped through 4-5 invisible nexus tears – gently floating rips in reality that he somehow seemed to locate. She followed right behind him. On his heels, one after the other, until it ended them both in some place unexpected. No longer in the town, Raschid snapped out of his trance when the harsh chilling rain beat down on him. He would have fallen had Sklarda not gripped him hard while digging into tree bough beneath her feet with her toe claws.
They were both in a giant tree or so she surmised in the gloom of the falling rain. Sklarda could just make out the glow of light somewhere behind their position but it was hard to tell from the kaleidoscope of radiation that was playing havoc with her senses.
It didn't take a genius to figure that they were likely in the giant tree that had appeared in the town during Triangularus. It was a likely surmise that fit with what was happening. While limited in sight, Raschid had other senses and made use of them to determine that this gate was a two-way path, unlike the others that had been one-way apertures. He guided the two of them through and was relieved when it returned them to town. Interest more than piqued, the two of them rounded up what was fast becoming their "group". It didn't take long to bring Chiktik and Úzgari in.
Úzgari was rip-roaring drunk and spent more time singing orcish ditties than anything constructive but it seemed a good fit nonetheless. Chiktik was intrigued heavily and demanded in his flat voice for them to repeat everything. Úzgari eventually wandered out in the street, drawn by something sensed more than heard. He watched as dozens of wooden crates dropped from the sky onto the cobblestones. It made him laugh. Those that broke spilled out a bounty of ice-packed seafood, mainly prawns, jellyfish and squid. He amused himself by eating it before it spoiled, ignoring the fact it may be dangerous. He was confident in his ability to digest anything.
Chiktik, hearing the whole tale, demanded to be shown. He mapped the path, walking it several time with them, working out the positions of the tears to their previous ones. It was rapidly obvious they had moved. Floated randomly by the looks of it.
Raschid led him and Sklarda back to the tree. The storm still raged and Chiktik, spurred by some idea, jumped into the foliage above. He disappeared without a trace. They waited, then inspired by some thought, Raschid pulled upon the chaotic form within his being. He called upon its powers and it reacted, though in a way he appreciated. The power ripped through the tree limb they stood on and sent it falling through space towards the ground.
Sklarda made a quick escape via the nexus rip but Raschid, unable to do so rode it all the way down. It crashed down at the base of the tree in the town. As random luck would have it he was equally unhurt though momentarily stunned when it crashed down. The branch landed at an angle, making a bridge upwards into the tree. One Raschid, and soon Sklrada and Úzgari followed. It wasn't without some discussion: the crash had coincided with what sounded like another assault on the town. Their debate was short lived. Between the bug they were beginning to fondly call "Clampy" and unknown invaders they chose Clampy and the tree. While they trekked up, Chiktik aka Clampy had a quicker introduction to the power they would soon be facing.
His jump turned into a series of "falls" as gravity flipped on him in random directions. Chiktik followed it until he came a line of "ants", if ants were grown to two feet long and possessed of a few more limbs. They followed a slightly different path and he followed them. Their path led to an aperture in the tree, a large one some 20 or so feet in height and breadth. It was guarded by warrior types, larger versions near the size of his own frame (7ft). His arrival and subsequent attempts to communicate led them to churn out more warriors and a different type of shield ant that barricaded the way in. At a stalemate, Chiktik hunkered down with infinite patience and continued to attempt communication with them.
It paid off. While the others fought their way through shifting gravity and navigated towards him a scarab version of the insects pushed its way out from the tree. It was massive in comparison. Easily ten times as much and of a different species. Beyond its girth and obvious dominant presence, it was modified technologically. Its underbelly held the protruding barrel of a firearm or laser weapon (Chiktik was betting bio-laser weapon) while its "mouth" had a telescoping blade. Avarice thoughts danced in his head of acquiring said things and plotting thus entered his mindset as he was blasted with a mix of pheromones and sound. Their communication was vast, intricate and layered in ways only an insect would understand. In rapid succession he made them understand he was not a threat. They in turn let him know that they considered him only mildly threatening. Also that the townsfolk were considered a renewable food source. Oh, and that they came from another world, one with more suns and moons than this one and much better air.
A lot better. Something they missed.
More perhaps could have been ascertained but the flow of information was disrupted by the arrival of the other three.
That led to a new flurry of communications wherein Chiktik (with some help) conveyed that they were not food to be eaten and were valuable. The unfortunate displaying the squid spine creature in the follow up discussion led to the scarab destroying it with its belly cannon (and proving to Chiktik that it was a bio-laser powered by internal organs). After some fast footwork and rapid discussion it also led to one of the hive queens showing up.
She/it attempted to psychically command them but failed utterly in the face of the strong will of the group and Sklarda's psychic power. Unruffled, she/it demanded they remove the "corruption" which lay in the hive as well as remove the mobile "corruption" by which she meant Raschid, whom she maligned for some reason. After some debate (and demands from Chiktik) they acquiesced but not without reservations. Hearing the insects wanted to leave and could do so after the corruption was removed went a long way to swaying them towards helping. Helping anyone, from bugs to the town, was starting to become a bit wearing.
Chiktik, as an aside, wanted his dna adjusted by a queen to remove the instant obedience and subservience to his hive's queen. Caring less, it agreed and gave him a coded dna globule. It also provided different ones to the others, giving them a boost in some ways as well as protecting them from the trees defenses.
Set, they dropped below with some help from the flying beetles. It didn't take long to find the rotting corruption that took over a part of the main trunk of the tree. They were deposited abruptly and quickly grabbed their bearings. Raschid, the only one blind in the darkness pulled a flashlight from his pouch and used it to see. The rot was thick here and the stench was near overwhelming. Sklarda warned them the place was awash with potentially dangerous radiation. Knowing the threat, they pressed forward slowly.
It didn't take much to get a reaction as mechanical spiders tore from the pulped rot, theirinsides transparent, lit with burning egg-like nodules floating in chromatic green liquid. An aperture to their front opened and closed; Sklarda identified it as the origin of the radiation she could see (and possibly the source of the rot). Past the six of them was the rotting remnants of a large soldier beetle like they had seen earlier.
Not a promising sight if it was defeated.
As dangerous as they looked, they fell fast. They broke half of them before the next threat arrived in the form of a skeleton of a large framed man complete with a large crystal/gem protruding from its chest. The crystal blazed malignantly, gaining instant attraction from Raschid (for its entropic pull) and Chiktik (for its technological applications). The smell of gunpowder overpowered the rot as the roar of guns from Raschid and Chiktik roared. That, combined with the more physical prowess of Úzgari and the telekinetic powers Sklarda unleashed, ended things rapidly. In short order all the spiders and the skeletal man-thing were broken.
The danger, however was not over.
From the body of the beetle exploded a towering snake-reptile head, its body embedded in the pulp of the tree. Hot waves of radiation rolled off its skin and it towered over Chiktik, Raschid and the others. Quick action and the luck of chaos paid off in his favor as Raschid used his runeweaving to empty the power of the crystal that lay in his hands to disrupt, spin and randomize the creature's DNA. The scrambling turned it to jelly and it liquified before their eyes.
Thankful they had survived they took stock of wounds and the situation. Chiktik made rapid work of the spiders, ripping from them all kinds of wire and stock electronics, even scavenging what he could from the beetle. The others were no less sanguine, finding a stock of the "food" the ants had been storing here. None were more than rotting corpses but the ants had "discarded" the inedible and being pragmatic, they rifled it for things to identify the dead (or what might be useful). A few things were to be had and they quickly were put away as they pushed to depart.
The discussion with the queen was faster than expected since not one but two queens greeted them when they exited. They were rapidly deposited on the ground and watched as the tree rippled and departed, leaving nothing but a gaping hole.
The rest from there was clean up.
The attack while they were occupied had been taken care of easily, since some of the mechanics had gotten new golems online. They could have cared less. They were too exhausted to give a damn and quickly went to rest.
In the next few days they spent some time healing their hurts and just, well, doing nothing. Well, almost nothing. Úzgari feasted. After all, an Orc travels on his gut. He also mulled over a vision he had had while fighting the spiders. That of Gorbragna looking over his bravery and savagery with appreciation. It was uncommon for the Urukk god to care much for Orcs. He clenched and unclenched the hand he swore Gorbragna had filled with burning power. It made him think perhaps this god might be worth following – at least in an Orcish way!
Raschid slipped away to confer with Zuchin. He was confident he would be able to assist in figuring out the things they had, ahem, acquired. He was not wrong and Zuchin offered to trade him a few items for the source of power they had acquired. Chiktik was engrossed in his new finds and cared for no interruption. Sklarda was a mystery. She slipped away and no one was certain where she had gone or if she would even be back again.
Uzgari Ironjaw – Orc Savage
Chiktik the Silver (aka Clampy) – Phraint Techno
Sir Raschid – Human Runeweaver
Sklarda – Deodanth Psychic
Phelan – Human Mayor of Leiberton
Sven DiamondEye – Dwarven Mayor of Leiberton
Anlorn DiamondEye – Veteran of the Northern Vord Mercernary group
Filimine – Morvaenian soldier of fortune
Zuchin – Master mage from Khurahaen
Conn Z'ofier – Priest of Saren, the sun god