Friday, April 27, 2018

Lark's Landing, Episode 24

Colonial Caerdia: Lark's Landing is a story being told through a 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign I'm running at a local hobby shop called the Devil's Bench. If you aren't familiar with this ongoing story, you can follow this link to Once Upon a Tabletop on YouTube to hear the start of it or read the brief summary I wrote when I switched from video to blog.

You can find the previous episode here.

28th of Waning Summer, 0AL

Having fallen into some old building with some type of haze in the air while tracking down a young group of adventurers, our heroes fall into trouble while gathering the figurines they find. Kordak, thinking they would make great toys for some kids, tries to sweep a display into the bag of holding. The moment they hit the floor, the wood-and-stucco figurines grow to full size - crowding the room with 17 more individuals - and begin to attack.

The group is concerned at first, but as Extang takes out several of them a spell allowing him to breathe fire, they realise that the trouble is the number of enemies, not their strength. They hack and blast their way through, clearing the room. However, they aren't without wounds, so they take a short, hour long rest to recuperate a bit. However, as they do so, they also notice that there is some kind of poison causing them a small amount of harm.

Paranoid and more cautious than they've ever been, they proceed through the sun-engraved stone doors, finding a hallway that proceeds for some way before turning to the left. They're keeping their eyes open for traps and, even though they don't see any, Extang pulls out a ten foot pole to prod around in front of them in the hopes of catching anything they missed. He doesn't find anything, so he, Kordak, and Stor proceed towards the door at the far end of the hall while the others hang back, not trusting that there really isn't a trap.

As it turns out, they're correct. The combined weights of Kordak, Stor, and Extang cause a pressure plate to shift under their weight. Sections of the wall swing out, bashing into the three and pushing them further down the hall before clicking into place - blocking the path back to the others, leaving nothing but a six inch gap at the top. After a search on both sides reveals no switches for resetting the traps, they spend twenty minutes widening part of the six inch gap until its big enough for people to get through.

Once everyone is back together again, they open the door into a large room. The floor is covered in mud and there's a boulder in the centre of the room with a bamboo staff leaned against it. Beside the boulder is a giant crayfish the size of a pony, staring at them intently. They slowly enter the room, testing to see how the creature will respond. It charges forward, jabbering something in a language they don't understand. When they back away, it returns to its place beside the boulder, watching....

After a few more tests, and some failed attempts to communicate with it - during which they move too far into the room and the crayfish runs over to the bolder and taps on it, awaking what is apparently a giant crab - they decide to try to get through the room without disturbing the strange crayfish. There are doorways to the right and left, as well as a stairwell leading down across the way. They run for the door on the left, keeping close to the wall with Kordak positioning himself between the crustaceans and his friends, but the mud turns out to be slipperier than anticipated. They can't make it as far as expected, and Balasar ends up falling flat on his face.

The crayfish charges Kordak and the crab goes after Stor, who is closest to the door. Since the creatures look too big to fit through the door, the group decides to continue their flight. Extang once again grows Kordak to giant size to help him fend off the crayfish for the duration of the retreat. The plan takes a sudden turn when, just as most of the group are getting to the door, the giant crab manages to grab Akta in one of its claws. The fight is now on and, slipping and sliding in the mud, often falling when trying to swing weapons, the group take down the crustaceans. They then spend the next ten minutes eating some crab and storing the legs in the bag of holding for later while Balasar casts a spell to heal their wounds. Stor investigates the stairwell, finding the bottom of it filled with mud blocking a door. He checks all three doors for traps, finding nothing.

Now the group has a decision - where to go? They look through the two upper doors, finding that the one on the left leads into a hallway that then goes down a set of stairs, and the one on the right goes into a long hall that turns to the left. Not wanting to go further down - more pointedly, wanting to go up and get out of this place - they choose the door on the right. They go down the long hall that has wet and slimy walls, with the stucco decomposing a sloughing off, exposing the seams of one of the large stone blocks. They turn the corner to find a stairwell leading up...! That is filled with rocks, clay, and rubble.

Disappointed that this was probably once the way out, they head back to try the door in the mud-filled stairwell. It is unlocked, but the mud is completely blocking it from being pulled open. They try various methods of moving the mud out of the way, but the silty, quicksand-like mud fills back in too quickly. Frustrated, and concerned about the poison that's still affecting them, most of them decide to take the final route - all except Extang, who consults his cards and interprets his findings as a message that he needs to persevere and keep doing what he's doing. He's left alone with his flickering torch that seems to be struggling to keep burning.

The rest of the group go through the final hall and down a flight of stairs into a room with an inch and a half of water and mud on the floor. There are fallen pedestals all around the room, and one standing with a small metallic pyramid on it. The walls are covered in a slimy white buildup, and there is a wet, green mass hanging above the door on the far end of the room.

Stor is immediately able to identify the green mass as algae - far less sinister than it could have been. He then pokes at the wall with his tiger-tooth knife. It comes back coated in a white substance that, after examining it, he determines to be lime. He declares it safe and washes it off in the water - feeling a slight burning sensation as soon as he touches the lime. He realises that lime, when wet, can become quite acidic, so he warns the others.

Everyone else have been talking about Extang being left behind. They decide that they really shouldn't leave him on his own, so they return - finding that he hasn't made progress with the door yet. They join in, trying to find more methods of moving the mud, but still find nothing that works. Finally they go after the hinges - taking a few minutes to remove them and then lower the door to the ground. As it lands with a squelch, the hear a gasp and a splash from down the hallway they've just revealed.

They proceed with caution, finding a room filled with soft light at the end of the hall. The light seems to flow from everywhere and the room is quite strange - the floor in front of them is a rocky beach leading up to a pool of water that takes up most of the room to their right. The ceiling is a crystal cavern. There are a pair of bronze doors in the wall to their left, and a set of doors carved wit a sun symbol to their right, on the far side of the pool.

Stor moves closer to the pool, looking to see if he can determine what made the sounds earlier. He finds the water to be quite clear and about 12 feet deep, though he can make out a ledge only two feet down that is running along the side of the wall to the doors beyond the pool. Beyond that, he doesn't see anything and is just about to give up searching when a head pops out of the water close to the far end of the pool with a giggle. It is a young, slim woman with long golden hair wearing a silky, sea-foam coloured shawl. She radiates a soft silvery light that is even glowing through her shawl.

Everyone is immediately suspicious of her. Extang consults his cards again and tells everyone else not to worry - the cards, which haven't steered them wrong yet - say to have a positive outlook, which he takes to mean that this woman is safe.

The woman says something in what Kordak recognises as the same language the crustaceans were speaking. No one understands it, so they try other languages they know as she looks at them in confusion. Finally, Stor tries elvish, which she responds to with delight. She expresses that it has been a very long time since she's had anyone to talk to, and answers what questions she can - explaining that she doesn't know much about this place because she wasn't awake when she was brought in. She tells them that the sun on the door is in praise of the sun god, Nanahuactin, and is surprised they don't know this. None of the group has ever heard of a sun god other than Epesta.

Knowing she can't possibly be a normal being, but unable to figure out what she is, Stor works up his courage and asks her what she is. She calls herself a nereid. Stor has never heard of that before, but he figures - based on what he's observed of her - that it probably means some kind of water nymph.

Bored of the conversation he can't understand, Kordak wanders over to the double doors on the left, checking them for traps, but not finding any. He doesn't see any point in hanging around, so he's getting ready to move on.

And that's where this game session ends. Check back for Episode 25 to find out what happens next.

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