New Group breakdown:
- Chiktik (Clamp), Phraint Techno
- Úzgari Ironjaw, Orc (with a bit of airshark mixed in) Savage
- Sir Raschid, Human Runeweaver
- Talara min Ándulán, Elven Psychic/Mage
- Sarlen the Fortold, Throon Paladin
****** our story ******
Talara and Raschid couldn't part with the magical shell house they had discovered after breaking the arcanely wrought waterspout cum nexus. That meant they had thrown down their gear right next to it (at a safe distance, of course) and snoozed.
Everyone else was much less sanguine and had returned to town. It was the next morning after all the excitement that someone was awoken, once again, by a banging on the door. This time it was Sarlen who was awoken. Or, disturbed more appropriately. He answered the door and curls of meditative spices and incense issued forth. It quite overwhelmed the poor fellow at the door, who did his best to communicate that Phelan (town mayor) wanted to see him between coughing and gasping for air. He had tried to get Chiktik as well but the Phraint would not answer.
The two of them walked away to meet the mayor about the same time as the other group, mildewed and
About the same time Sarlen made it to the ever so popular crisis center for the town, e.g. the town's old square with the large fountains. There he had a chance to confer with Phelan and learn that Filimine had been struck down, petrified in mid-step. While he did not know her directly, Sarlen recalled her from his discussions with Raschid. He was also unsure what Phelan wanted from him. Filimine, when he looked her over was a petrified statue with a metal projectile sticking out of her neck. She looked to be taken by surprise.
Phelan seemed vague, something Sarlen had no time for. He made to leave and Phelan bade him wait and listen a moment more. He conjectured that the survivors of Triangularus, those dozen and a few that survived, might be in danger. By his reckoning, more than half had already perished. Of those remaining, only 8 survived. Filimine was one of those as was Conn, who had died but a few days ago. Others had fallen before that in battle, or so they thought. Phelan thought it suspicious and wanted to say so. Armed with this info but not unduly alarmed, Sarlen left the town for the fields where Raschid, Talara, and Úzgari had rested.
While he was gone, Clampy (aka Chiktik) had roused from the workshop. He examined Filimine and then inquired in his flat voice for witnesses and directions to where she was found/shot. He had divined the metal sliver was from a projectile. He traced her steps back to where she was shot and examined the area while intimidating witnesses. They provided little of value but they did give him a location. He found traces of a person who had lain in wait and then shot from afar. He was on the trail to it when he heard an explosion and looked across the town to see a column of smoke rise. Chiktik flitted his way across the rooftops towards it.
He oriented quickly on the smoke and made it to the Dwarven Quarter. He came across many feverishly digging in the rubble of several fallen buildings. Interrogating them he learned that Sven, and numerous engineers had been trapped below. They told him the golems had went mad and leveled the buildings, trapping many people below. They also related that the golems were hollow and had pumps. The information seemed of note, though he couldn't quite place it. He considered helping for a moment but was distracted by a second explosion across the town. He didn't even bother to listen to their cries before he was on his way across the roofs.
Their calls brought him reluctantly back and they quickly conferred before moving together across town. They came across a group of the golems attacking anything that moved and crunching buildings as they deployed out, seemingly at random. Numerous engineers were trying to shut them down but without success and mostly getting stomped for trying. The group laid into them like a wild fire on dry brush. They fell rapidly, most dumping out large amounts of salt water when they fell.
They hurriedly interrogated the dwarves and learned that all the town golems have pumps and can hold large quantities inside their torso compartment. Raschid pointedly noted that Phelan had said he would put the previous criminal in the "belly of a golem". Must have been literal.
The dwarves further noted that the golems had been cleaning up from the massive salt water wave yesterday and taking it to the makeshift desalination apparatus the dwarves had created near the cistern.
Decision quickly made, they departed to the cistern. It was underground, guarded by a squat, heavily fortified building and two guards. They alerted the two guards there, quickly gaining their trust after they were recognized (it wasn't hard). The guards let them know that golems had only just passed through. Divining that something must be happening right now they sent one guard to phelan and demanded the other come with them.
Inside was a giant tangle of pipes and machines. Water was piped from down below and up through the
town. The desalination area was empty. The only other place they could have went was down.
town. The desalination area was empty. The only other place they could have went was down.
Down turned out to a rapid descent via the hook the golems connect to. They plummeted down rapidly. The drop ended in a wide-mouthed opening into a very large room full of pipes and pumps churning away. Water lay on the floor and it was very damp and poorly lit (dwarven maintained – who needs light?)
Chiktik entered the larger room while the others came down. In the immediate room were 4 large golems but they were frozen to the floor and water was iced around their joints. He took it in while the others came down and did recon. It didn't take him long to find the culprit.
It was floating in a shimmering haze of light green and had the smell of salt water and foam. It regarded him and the others when they arrived carefully but did not attack. They, in turn, held their weapons though it
In quick, short sentences it exposed that it had been ejected from the deep ocean yesterday and had been stranded. Sensing water it had come here but had been dismayed to find it fresh water. Water, however lacking, was better than the land and air so it had stayed. It had been roused by the transit of the golems and a group of others. These golems had attempted to attack it when it came to investigate. It froze them solid. After a short discussion, it agreed to depart after they gave it directions to salt water (which was hella far away, but still...).
Pressing on, they navigated the tangle of pipes and engines that probably only made logical sense to the dwarves that had created them. While cautious they were caught unawares in the pinchers of an ambush. They came from all over the pipes and engines and attacked rapidly. Fate smiled on them and one of the explosive freezing spells twisted in the caster's hand and landed upon him and those around him instead. The fire, however, was not and exploded around them, joined by the explosive retort of gun fire and the stomp of feet as two groups charged at them.
What happened next is best described by these two pictures:
The Throonish Paladin of Xuanth lay about him with four blades filled with the divine ecstasy of his order. He harvested men like chaff from wheat and 7 men fell less than a minute. Úzgari smashed one opponent but was thrown clear across the room to in front of the Throon by a brute of a Urukk with a glowing arcane blade. Talara disoriented minds, confused aims and used wreckage to vast effect to stay alive. Chiktik leaped and let loose with his gun to turn a group of attackers into minced meat. He killed several others with his blaster, sending a beam of death hurtling in a path greater than 200 ft long. It pierced foe and pipe alike, rupturing many.
Then, the battle turned.
Sarlen took a series of hits and spells in fast succession. Even empowered by Xuanth with fervor it drove him to one knee. Chiktik's beam had several pipes gushing out great sprays of water, knocking down many and disrupting sight. His nearest foe, realizing he would die no matter what, pulled two grenades out and tried to take out everyone around him. Chiktik was grievously hurt. Even badly wounded, they managed to turn the tide back and kill off enough of their attackers before they fled.
Or, tried to.
Or, tried to.
In the battle, Chiktik had glimpsed what looked like a 9ft tall elongated lizard, not Saurig but something more reptilian and long necked. It was wrapped in a similar ocean-hued aura as the previous horse-creature they had met not too long ago. Chiktik grabbed the one survivor and took him aside to interrogate him where those of lesser sensibilities wouldn't be offended. He didn't make it far before the man's head erupted into gore. That sent him hopping back to the group and taking cover.
A few tense moments passed. Nothing showed. Or, at least not at first. They were surprised to see Raschid come stumbling in, wet and without his pants. The simultaneously dressed, congratulated him on his survival and interrogated him.
While hurt, he seemed in no bad way. They retreated with him surface side and continued to check him out until they were satisfied it was him and no fake. He told them he had been waking up intermittently, knowing he was being moved. He had also been encased in ice until the end. He was, strangely enough, saved by Pond. His dying nemesis had been savaged by a long clawed hand as had been his guards. The group that attack them may have been his mercenaries but he suspected they had been mind controlled potentially. More than one thing from under the sea was loose. What he had seen looked more like a jellyfish floating in air but he had gained sense of power from it.
Getting back above they spent a short time recuperating. Events kept up their fast pace so it wasn't much, a modicum of rest but it seemed enough. By pooling what they had learned and new intel from Phelan and Sven (once they dug him out) they found another of the squid-things that had plagued them before. Chiktik, in a fit of intense genius worked out how to detect them. He crafted a head dress, that crowned the head and ran down the back. It had a mess of lens that dropped and raised as the wearer examined someone. With it on, you could discern who had the creatures in them. Not just one but two. One of which he gave to Phelan (after checking him of course).
Raschid slipped during the hubbub to look at the arcane house shaped like a great shell. He explored it some more and found, to his chagrin, it was very much still active. It whisked him away to parts unspoken until he returned wrapped a man-sized electric blue feather (and many stripper jokes ensued).
After a long runabout town they figured out that four more people where infected. Two were maintainers for the golems (go figure) and the others sold food. One was the restaurateur that owned the place Úzgari dined at every night.
While many plans were thought of and discarded, Sarlen eventually called the town together (most came) and slew them all in one rapid fire attack. Then, with the evidence before the townsfolk, related what had occurred.
It wasn't the old way found either. Near the Phraint's workshop another opening had been found. It wasn't new but old and poorly concealed. A quick search had revealed it connecting into more caverns below. Once it had been well concealed but the iron building that had decimated the area with its arrival and departure had destabilized the hidden entrance. They had to drop a ladder down it just to get in.
They rested the night to catch their breath and think. On the next day they learned the magic house from under the ocean was gone. It looked like it had grown legs and walked into the nexus mists, altogether like a giant hermit crab. They also had help coming. The mayors had dedicated 60 dwarves and men to their cause. Zuchin as well chose to come. They were to go down each of the two entrances. The group chose the one via the restaurant.
It was a winding mess of tunnels and raw cave that seemed endless. The group of them went carefully, checking ahead and behind. It was fruitless for a long time. Then they came to an underground grotto with a strange nexus gate.
One formed of magic.
Raschid reached out with the choatic power in his soul and poured it into the nexus. It destabilized and lines of white fire snapped out. The power that looks behind Chiktik's eyes looked forth and grabbed onto the power. It seemed everyone's lines suddenly connected to Chiktik and he drained the power out of them while muttering "0100011101010010010101".
In the lull afterwards, the group noticed groups of the flying sensor jellyfish floating overhead. Fate's six fingered hand intervened, bringing them into a collision at the same point. Chiktik timed their juncture and hit them with a Tesla grenade. Then the mama jellyfish came out and Chiktik threw 4 firewater grenades. He had miscalculated, though, and didn't realize the blast radius was going to be quite so large.
In that thin second before it all happened, everyone took an action. Talara revealed how she survived the fall from the airship earlier. She called upon Saren and was spun into a beam sunlight. Rashid, using all the chaotic energy in his body and that of his demiurge bond, spun though endless probabilities until he found one where he survived. He pulled Sarlen along with him though to paused a second to consider Zuchin before
Chiktik, closest to the explosion, died. Very little remained of his body excepted boiled chitin, burned metal and his blaster, which survived somehow. They did not mourn him long, however, as he body began to reknit and heal, reconstituting from what was left. When he could communicate, he did not speak of it. Only hint that it was related to a debt, that had become either lighter or heavier by its use.