The Astral Gale

A Monkey on His Back and "Heroes" of Might and Magic

A Monkey on His Back

The group set out towards the territory of the yuan ti temple. Journey on the road continued, following the road, with Wendeam and a miniaturized Ariel scouting by invisible flight and the rest riding phantom steeds. The whole plateau is covered with heavy jungle canopy and frequent clouds, though Wendeam, being an elemental of air, could see through it, and saw the gargantuan gorilla sitting atop a rock promontory off in the distance. He seemed to be looking for something. He suddenly moved in the direction of the group, which seemed bad… but then veered off. About this time, a group of carnivorous apes attacked! Deciding that fighting them seemed pointless, the riders used the speed of the phantom steeds to escape them, though the apes did pelt them with rocks… and other things.

More scouting around and everyone saw the gargantuan gorilla, who seemed to have a smaller gorilla on his shoulder, which looked ominous and incredibly sad at the same time.

Discretion suggested that camp be set up somewhere that the gargantuan gorilla couldn’t easily get, so a small valley was chosen and Rope Trick employed to make a safe (if uncomfortable and cramped) camp.

Exercising an abundance of caution, Wendeam was rendered invisible and went out. He saw a few strange looking gray-furred apes hiding in the trees, in an obvious ambush position. There were four small ones and one large, four armed one. He went back into the Rope Trick, seemingly unobserved. Zell knew what they were, the dreaded su monsters, who were threatening both physically and psionically. She recommended an aggressive attack, proceeding out to slip up rapidly to the four armed one, taking it by surprise, though to no avail, as she missed. Everyone else followed hoping that Zell’s plan of aggressive assault would kill them before they were able to do more damage. They still packed plenty of punch, both physical and mental, but were cut down, with Wendeam meleeing the large one. The fight was a tough one, but eventually they were dispatched and the group set out again.

van Rijn suspected that the su monsters were controlling the gargantuan gorilla and vowed to return to free him when the business with the yuan ti was done.

“Heroes” of Might and Magic

Proceeding onwards, Wendeam’s ability to control temperature maintained a state of comfort. After some travel they arrived at a sequence of very old snake statues. Some examination by van Rijn showed that they appeared to show now signs of Chaos and seemed to have been casually vandalized recently, or ignored. They certainly didn’t seem as malevolent, and Ariel felt they appeared rather sad.

As van Rijn was studying it, Andra heard a tell-tale buzz of some large flying insects and Wendeam, who could see through the mists, spotted large serpent flies heading in for the attack. Three quick moving giant dragonflies attacked Andra, Zell, and van Rijn, ignoring Ariel (who is not attacked by beasts or plants) and Wendeam (who is not edible). Picking anyone up was beyond the flies, but only Zell was hit. Wendeam engaged the serpent fly who had not attacked yet in melee and Andra used the electric arc, after using the Ruinous Glove to ward off snapping mandibles. It chose to leave and flew away to the south, towards a hive off in the distance. The others were undeterred, and their incredible swiftness meant they could escape nearly any attack, though some shots went their way. Eventually Andra used a Wall of Fire to drive them off. The flies abandoned the group as being too dangerous to eat. Andra realized that his old comrade Korbac had been raising dragonflies in the hopes of turning them into warbeasts, and wondered if this is what he would have obtained.

The path forked three ways, one continuing up the mountain following the snake statues, one going south towards the serpent fly hive, the third went north, in the direction of some horse tracks and signs of a cart with some humanoids with clawed feet. After some deliberation, north was chosen. A bit more traveling revealed a strange scene: A man wearing a breastplate and a green cloak on a horse. The cart proved to be a ballista, crewed by two men wearing blue and white tabards. The troops were four gnolls. He was studying heavy forest ahead. There was a hydra statue on the path and Wendeam spotted the head of a massive hydra popping up above the canopy.

After a careful an open approach (with Zell and Ariel hiding), the strange man said his name was Gerwulf. Andra felt s strange kinship and Gerwulf claimed that he’d been hired by “Lord Player” at “the tavern” and that he knew Andra’s old flame Adrienne the Fire Witch, last seen in Vorion. He proposed an alliance. He said he needed to defeat the hydra that lay beyond that was blocking his access to gnolls and lizard men. Recruiting them was his job. He said Lord Player would be willing to ally, though he was puzzled at Andra’s “army”, containing a djinn and a swordsman. He didn’t know what to make of either Zell and Ariel when they appeared. He also said he knew that there was an enemy city in the direction of what the group supposed was the Yuan Ti temple.

So the group went forward, Zell sneaking and Wendeam flying and using his crossbow to shoot one of the hydra’s heads. Unfortunately more sprouted where those were, revealing the dreaded Lernean hydra! Gerwulf ordered his gnolls forward while Wendeam and Zell stood back. The gnolls were annihilated by the angered hydra. Ariel enlarged Wendeam and van Rijn slowed the ponderous beast. Andra fireballed it, but the spell seemed to have no effect, as the heads had already regenerated. Some more heads were dispatched and flame used to kill them, but the hydra still had nine and was very dangerous. Realizing that timing was of the essence, van Rijn ordered everyone to ready to attack the heads just before Andra was to drop fire on the creature.

At this point Gerwulf and his compatriots, revealed to be rakshasa, treacherously struck!

One wounded Ariel badly but once again, Andra’s Ruinous Glove warded off his attacker. Zell, figuring that the hydra needed to die anyway, struck it, and her scimitar of sharpness lopped a huge chunk off the hydra, killing several heads, van Rijn finished the other. Andra once again used the Wand of Fire to dispatch the hydra. The rakshasa carried on witty banter as they fought with the party, proving to be amazingly tough, though Zell and van Rijn finished one off after Ariel used the Fractal Blades on it. They weren’t great combatants, but one used a lightning bolt to fry Zell, van Rijn, and Ariel, who was knocked down by it. Eventually the other two were dispatched, the final one having its arm cleaved off at the shoulder by Zell’s keen scimitar. One thing disturbing about the rakshasa was the fact that they were creatures of Law. They proudly bragged about how they engaged in “austerities to honor the universe” only to commit atrocities later. This was something Wendeam was left to ponder, not with quiet thoughts.

After the fight, Andra and Ariel extraced alchemical reagents from the hydra and rakshasa using the Intellect Syringe recovered from the crazy Dr. Joost. The freed lizard men and gnolls offered to join Andra’s army, and agreed to provide a place to rest.

Fighting the Snake Men

Quote of the session: “There are many different kinds of snakemen but they’re all fuckers.”

The battle in the unknown elven village in the land of Ambartzumian ended. Ariel went to tend to the surviving villagers while Andra used medicine to tend to Chernoff, the dying guard, saving his life. He then patched up everyone else who was wounded.

Wendeam attempted to track the fleeing snake sorceress, but to no avail. Her tracks simply ended.

van Rijn talked to Chernoff, the guard who survived the fight in the pile of bodies. Chernoff said that the snakemen hadn’t been seen. He didn’t think that Joliffe was trading with the snake men, but wasn’t sure.

The village was amazing in only the kind of way that elves who devoted themselves to gardening could manage. Andra wandered around in it, seeing many rare plants and herbs, far too many sadly destroyed by the snakemen and the ensuing combat.

Having been calmed by Ariel, the villagers told their tale. Their lives were very peaceful though they would trade occasionally. There were no cities, just some villages. No real violence had happened in their land for centuries but the snake men, long since thought gone, had recently reappeared in their abandoned temple in the mountains and attacked.

They indicated that when Wendeam returned they would try to help him with his Chaos infection. They also kept a sample of Elixir to study. Finally they knew of the legendary chronolily but didn’t know where one was found, as it only grew wild. van Rijn offered to garrison the town but this was not resolved.

The surviving elven villagers stayed there. In the event they were attacked they would retreat to the forest. Before the group left, the grateful villagers provided healing and some pots of a sovereign healing salve.

The snakemen went up the river with their captives. The snakemen appeared to have vandalized the village’s boats so flight was employed to speed travel. Eventually the remnants of an old road that paralleled the river were found, with signs of recent travel by large figures, captives, and massive carts.

The snakemen appeared to be camping further up in elevation but were too far away to be reached. The night sky in Ambartzumian was amazing. Andra studied them and was convinced that this land was not part of the planes from which he, Ariel, and van Rijn hailed from. It lacked many of the impurities and poisons that affected those lands as well as lacking an Etherial plane.

Phantom Steeds were used to speed passage. Eventually it became obvious the river was near a waterfall continuing up the elevation. The road peeled off to the side to go up the slope. A bit of scouting by an invisible Wendeam revealed that the snakemen were camped across a bridge on the other side of the river. The land continued to elevate, heading towards a cloud-covered peak in the distance.

The plan was for Wendeam to cross and summon a minor air elemental, with Zell following across the river to attack, while Andra, a miniaturized Ariel, and van Rijn using the massive speed of the phantom steeds to move up the slope to the bridge.

Unfortunately, all good plans sometimes go awry and Zell was spotted by a hidden snakeman archer, who shot her once, though the lightning-fast githzerai parried the second arrow. She disappeared and reappeared in cover across the bridge, near the captives. Andra moved up speedily and fireballed, slaying four of the histachi, and baking three of the large snakemen warriors, two of whom were confounded by the dust devil emerging among them. He also hit the large draft lizard that had been pulling the cart, which began bellowing and hissing angrily. van Rijn moved up and shot one of the other snakemen right in the head. The pistol ball spalled off its helmet, leaving a massive dent and addling it, though it recovered its wits. He then moved up to melee range.

The snakemen attempted to rally: The sorceress, hidden in the camp, turned herself invisible again and moved off to a better vantage. She and Zell started stalking each other, with Zell trying to hit her with an adamantine sphere and the sorceress attempting to magic missile, but to no avail against the gifhzerai’s magic resistance. The melee on the bridge between van Rijn and the snakeman got ugly, while Wendeam moved up and dispatched the remaining histachi, to interpose between the snakemen and the restrained captives. Andra used lightning on the snakeman fighting van Rijn. Wendeam released his spear and settled into a fight with the snakeman who stumbled out of the dust devil while one hapless snakeman attempted to finish the dust devil off.

The bridge settled down to a battle, with the snakeman archer proving to be incredibly adept at launching javelin-sized arrows, which it first tried to use to kill van Rijn’s steed and then at Andra, who was sorely pressed by it. van Rijn finished the snakeman he was in melee with and then Andra pressed forward into hard cover to avoid the arrows, though he took the time to use his Wand of Fire to ring the archer, hoping to bake it or at least block its arrows. van Rijn moved up and drank a healing potion to try to recover from the wounds inflicted by the snakeman warrior.

The archer moved through the Wall of Fire, though its magic resistance saved it from the real burn. Wendeam moved over to melee with it, sending his spear after the hapless snakeman still in the dust devil. The archer proved to be a stern melee combatant, with deadly coils and a poisonous bite. Wendeam was bitten by it, though he avoided the coils, and began to feel a burning sensation from the potent venom, which he used some of the ointment from the villagers to cure. van Rijn broke cover and shot at the archer, but missed. Ariel—-still small and riding on Andra’s shoulder—-summoned the Fractal Blade to attack the archer. Zell, meanwhile threw an adamantine sphere at the archer, successfully sneak attacking it, but then dropped down to protect the captives in the even there were additional threats lurking. At this point, the fight degenerated into a vicious melee, but the archer and the remaining snakeman warrior were put down.

The cart proved to be full of various looted items and corpses from the elven village, along with the magical bow of the archer and some magical leather armor found on the corpse of one of the Mercane guards in the wagon. The snakeman archer had the eightfold star of Chaos on its helmet.

The four elven villagers told their rescuers about the presence of a gargantuan gorilla up ahead. They hoped that he would be avoided, not killed, though they suspected he might be charmed by the snakemen. The villagers stayed with the group, who set up a counter-ambush overnight. They proved to be highly skilled healers. No snake men counterattacked, so the villagers, draft lizard in tow, went back to the lowlands, and the group moving to the highlands into the territory of the gargantuan gorilla.

Cumulative Recap

Battle of Hest

After gating back to Hest, the fight was on. Orixia and Phantine rallied the remaining giff to try to drive off the pirates, while Wendeam, Andra, Ariel, and van Rijn attempted to destroy the daemons and demodand mercenaries. The final conflict occurred outside the God Machine, where Razalflow proved to be cowardly (or discreet, depending on how you consider it) and fled the field rather than face the group, though it was a near run thing.

The God Machine’s Broken Parts and the Eater of Time

The God Machine seems to have a functioning but oddly so part that was incorporated into its parts from Trobriand’s lab… this seems ominous and some mind probing was used to try to recover the memories from the first time in Trobriand’s lab. Not much was concluded, but on the way back through the lab, Andra, van Rijn, Orixia, Ariel, and Wendeam stumbled on part of Trobriand’s laboratory where a bizarre artifact known as the Eater of Time had been placed. Unfortunately it activated some of Trobriand’s uncompleted or imperfect creations, including an iron golem, an aurumvorax, and other beasts. Ariel managed to disarm it but not before a stern fight.

Finding Zell

A ghost ship was sighted in the Astral on a course towards Hest. Not wanting it to get into navigational areas, van Rijn, Wendeam, Ariel, and Andra went out in a small skiff to intercept it. It proved to be inhabited by a crew of those drained of life by the Astral… they appeared to be gith, but not like the pirates. They had a much simpler style. They were still undead, however, and Wendeam received a wound from them. Attached to the bottom of the ship was a dust-encrusted heavy leather container, which contained a githzerai in Temporal Stasis. After some trepidation, the Stasis was dispelled. The githzerai inside was named Zell, who proved to be a skilled rogue of the githzerai explorer class. She had been in stasis for nearly 1000 years and spoke of how a unified group of githzerai, githyanki, and ee’ar—winged elves—had mounted an expedition to the Astral to try to follow the path of Zerthimon, one of their founders. The gith pirates appear to be the descendants of the expedition, which obviously failed. Zell, lacking any other leads, joined the group.

The Ee’ar Golem

Zell knew of some ee’ar ruins that were worth investigating. Wendeam, van Rijn, Ariel, and Zell went. The island proved to have several ee’ar guardian constructs. Most were destroyed, but one, in the shape of a prismatic minotaur, turned out to be dimly sentient and managed to communicate that it would serve for gems.

Styg’s Alchemical Breakthrough

Styg made a huge breakthrough on the production of powerful explosives from void salts. He managed to eliminate the use of charcoal and fire salts by dissolving the void salts and forming aqua fortis and then mixing them with soap. Unfortunately he did so by detonating the lab back in Hest, which needed to be replaced. Styg’s creation is too unstable to use now, but he’s searching for an improvement when he gets more raw materials.

Raid on Sitirthra’s Pleasure Palace

One of van Rijn’s father’s old crewman, Onghena, appeared on the docks in Hest. After a harrowing tale of being captured in a port and sold as a galley slave, Onghena expressed a desire to return to the skies of his own world where he could die. He also told of the gith pirate captain who seems to have a secret hideaway. The captain was Sitirthra and Onghena knew how to get there. A raid was mounted. Yna, the aasimar captain from Sesh, agreed to take her vessel with Andra, Wendeam, van Rijn, Ariel, and Zell. A long sail later, a group of ruins emerged. Zell approached stealthily and scouted, noticing that a pirate and a courtesan were in a boat below. Wendeam and Zell dropped down and attacked, subduing both. They got a bit of intelligence from the pirate. Assault on the palace began: More pirates, bugbear eunuchs, and bizarre mechanical fiends proved to be tough, but were eventually dispatched or surrendered. van Rijn toyed with the notion of recruiting the bugbears. The courtesans were held securely. One was a Quan woman who told news of how long it had been in her land, revealing that van Rijn, Ariel, and Andra had been gone for a long time. The Kang had attempted invasion of the Elven Isles by fleet but the fleet was destroyed by a massive storm before it arrived.

After a while, only a locked door remained. Zell picked it and it revealed a private dining room, a torture chamber, and another locked door. She picked that too, revealing a Brain in a Jar, who proved to be the remnant of a long ago githyanki captain that had been part of the group following the path of Zerthimon. This was interrupted when an invisible vampire attacked and drained the life from one of the bugbears to restore herself and then fled. Wendeam and van Rijn chased after her but she managed to elude them. Zell tried to dismantle the brain but failed. Andra used magic to tell Yna to flee to avoid the vampire and Ariel’s gate was used to take everyone back to Hest.

Brain in a Jar

When Zell was trying to disassemble the Brain in a Jar back in Sitirthra’s palace, she broke… something. Styg is working on trying to reactivate the Brain in a Jar.

Running the Vortex

After running from the vampire that was in Sitirthra’s Pleasure Palace in Hest, Captain Emit’s ship was locked in a tight run from the pursuing and very angry gith pirates. Fortunately during a check in her plight was noted and so Andra, van Rijn, Orixia, Ariel, and Wendeam gated in. van Rijn took over at the helm for the exhausted Yna, who could barely stand. Her plan was a bold (or desperate) one: Run an Astral vortex, counting on skill to gain speed or force the pursuing pirates to break off. Fortunately van RIjn was able to carry this plan out. At this point, Ariel stayed to defend the ship while Andra, van Rijn, Orixia, and Wendeam teleported to the pirate vessel. The didn’t reckon with the fact that the vortex itself was stirred up by the presence of magic, and that seemingly sentient and very dangerous pieces of it emerged. The pirates themselves were torn asunder by the vortex and everyone else fled to escape the nigh-invulnerable fraction of the vortex. Fortunately at this point, no pirates were nearby and so van Rijn and Andra helped sail Yna’s vessel back to Hest.

Arrival of Ecin Dek Oms’ Vessel

The Senior Captain of Sesh’s trading vessel arrived. It contained a large quantity of powder. Given that Phantine managed to recruit more giff this is good. Phantine is trying to bargain with the giants for all of the powder… which is likely to be very expensive.

The Mercane

A mercane merchant visited Hest, accompanied by several thuglike guards, including a stylish minotaur named Bruno who seemed to take a shine to Orixia. A different mercane proved to be there later (oddly) though the ship crew was the same. Many deals were had with them, including “Prime Membership”.

A Deal With the Mercane
Working for the Mercane

Andra, desiring more and powerful spells, decided to return to the Mercane to see if a deal could be raised. Andra, Wendeam, and van Rijn returned to the merchant with a list of several rare and powerful spells. After some negotiation, the Mercane suggested that three could be obtained for gold… but that other possibilities were available, if a service was to be performed.

The Mercane required a Non-Disclosure Agreement before providing details, which involved some debate. Fortunately the Company was available to vote. After some debate and a few reservations expressed by Ariel, it was agreed to sign and find out what the job was.

It turned out that the Mercane had a deal that was “problematic” and wanted to hire more security. Their trader, Joliffe, was in a land called Ambartzumian. Ariel and Andra had both heard of it, as it was known for exotic herbs and alchemical goods.

The Mercane would provide transport for the job, which was expected to take a week. More haggling ensued, particularly about payment if the job was to prove to be a failure. Orixia helped but felt that she and Phantine needed to stay in Hest to ensure its safety.

Eventually Andra and van RIjn approached Zell, who was practicing martial arts up by the gates. The githzerai seemed to find the implacable presence of the Guardian soothing. Eager to do some exploring, Zell signed the NDA and went back. She haggled with the Mercane—quite skillfully, to van Rijn’s ears—in gith, and seemed to extract quite a bit from him, at least based on his pained look, but only said she “got some books.” Still, van Rijn wondered….

The Mercane opened a gate to Ambartzumian, and van Rijn, Ariel, Andra, Wendeam, and Zell stepped through. They appeared in a dark jungle, with the raw smell of rotting vegetation and the presence of a dead body being dragged by a scaly, twisted being with a reptilian mein. It charged immediately and, quick on her feet, Zell interposed, sloppily cutting it with her silver scimitar but preventing it from getting to Andra and Ariel. Battle ensued, though, as the creature proved to be tougher than it looked.

Off in the distance, by a fire, a hulking, ogre-sized snake headed man seemed to be butchering a deer that was hanging from a pole using a large hacking blade. He was by a pile of mixed bodies, including some humanoid ones. Wendeam went up to melee the small snake man, killing it, and van Rijn slowed a mass of them, noting that the large snake men seemed to be resistant to magic.

Andra, realizing that the battle’s darkness favored the snake men, cast an enhanced Continual Light and lit up the entire field, showing a camp, many more snake men, and a coffle of roped captive women and children. Ariel used Displacement, which was fortuitous given that the large snake men had quivers of javelins along with shields and large swords and proved to be skilled in their use.

As the fight ensued the small snake men, who appeared to be nearly mindless servitors and the larger snake men charged. Andra fireballed them while Wendeam, van Rijn, and Zell moved up to melee them, while Andra continued casting fireballs, though he was Magic Missiled by a snake-blooded sorceress who was hiding among the captives, invisible.

Far to the edge of the village a large snake man had a hunched over reptile man on a leash, which kept lurching forward as if it was eager to attack.

This proved to be a most fearsome creature… a gith of some sort that had been converted into a dreaded soulsuck. It went straight for Zell, sensing their kinship.

It mind blasted Zell, van Rijn, and Wendeam. van Rijn managed to fight off its intrusion, but the other two succumbed. Wendeam turned out to be reasonably safe but Zell was savaged by two of the smaller snake men, who took advantage of the fact that her guard was dropped.

Ariel, seeing this, used the Fractal Blades to slice many of the smaller snake men and the larger ones to ribbons. It proved necessary to do this twice before the soulsuck fell. Wendeam and van Rijn went to finish off the rest, while Zell threw her adamantine spheres to help.

van Rijn moved up and saw that the captives were elven villagers, and noticed that one of Joliffe’s guards was still alive near the pile of bodies, though he was in bad shape.

To be continued….

Sesh Is a Lonely Town?

Andra, left to himself, set to a long sequence of calculations.

van Rijn, Wendeam, Ariel, and Orixia had a long conversation with a Loxo—-a bipedal oliphaunt—-named Phantine, who was the lox-firkin of his vessel. This proved to mean captain. His people, the Loxo, were the cousins of the giff, who were from the same world. They were more peaceable and skilled with their trunks to make incredible detail work on top of their crude smithing. He said that they were interested in going to Hest, as many of the herds would be happier there. He also said that his people had great memories and would be able to tell more, but that he wasn’t a tunnuk, or loremaster.

Wendell asked Phantine if he was affiliated with Law or Chaos, but Phantine indicated that his folk, the Loxo, did not fight in the cause of either. Ariel studied Phantine for a while and thought that it was very sad that he had no connection to his world anymore, or at least none she could see. She wasn’t sure if his folk had been changed by their time in the Astral or if his world no longer existed. She left to go check on Andra.

The rest went to buy any elixir which could be found as well as any smokepowder. Both appeared to be in short supply and Wendeam realized that nobody knew where elixir came from. Eventually they found a merchant who had both. He seemed kind of odd and suspicious, but van Rijn and Orixia dickered him down on the goods. van Rijn did most of the dickering but Orixia’s intimidating presence seemed to… speed things along. Orixia eventually left to get money from Ariel, and returned with two gems, which the merchant found unusual and overvalued. At the end of the haggle, van Rijn got him to accept two oriental amethysts worth 2000 gold, ultimately managing to get a stupendous deal on two casks of powder and three doses of elixir.

Leaving they went to check on Andra. Ariel walked out of the house saying “He’s impossible when he’s like this!” to the sounds of Andra tearing up a bunch of paper. In the room he had covered the walls with tacked up calculations which he was angrily pulling off the wall. He looked at van Rijn, “Why can’t you see? I don’t know enough!!!” van Rijn noticed that Andra’s calculations had the same figure over and over, a hexagon. Both Ariel and van Rijn keenly remembered the mad wizard, Blais Radlock, who, having glimpsed the nature of reality, promptly Feebleminded himself in an attempt to forget it.

Some debate while Andra continued his mutterings about the nature of the gates, particularly why they were solids with four, six, eight, twelve, or twenty corners each, and assorted other things. Nobody really felt better about it, though, and Andra continued his calculations.

Eventually Wendeam grew bored and joined Orixia, whose tolerance for metaphysical debate was even lower than his. Wendeam saw that she too was pacing outside, smoking, nearly as agitated as Andra inside. However, the ever-pragmatic elven warrior was vexed by the fact that Razalflow hadn’t made a move yet. She decided to use Clairvoyance to examine Hest, and said “Ariel, ready the gate, all else, get your weapons. The gith pirates attack Hest.”

The Captains' Mast

After a long journey, which involved astrally drained pirates (a disturbing reminder of the effect of being shipwrecked in the the Astral), an expedition to find the Icon of Ordered Chaos (ominously consumed by Ariel, who seems… different), a stopover in the settlement of Blor (ruled by the Masked Oligarchy, where everyone wears masks for their assigned social roles, even the prostitutes, much to van Rijn’s chagrin), and a vicious fight with a pack of demons, Owt Roval’s ship arrived at Sesh, with van Rijn, Andra, Wendeam, Ariel, and Orixia in tow.

Sesh is built from the lashed-together hulls of many ships. Busy docs protrude in all angles. van Rijn felt at home, and a little jealous and wondered at the possibilities of living in such a place, boiled of all impurities and reduced simply to commerce.

van Rijn saw a huge vessel, twice the size of an ordinary one, crewed by long bearded giants.

Owt Roval led to the meeting house of the Captains’ Mast. He seemed somewhat nervous, and revealed that he was not a captain, simply a Master.

Captains were voting members, of which there are three Junior Captains and a Senior Captain.

Ecin Dek Oms, the star giant Senior Captain of the Captains’ Mast met them. He was ancient, gray skinned, with a long beard and eyes like the Astral. None of the Junior Captains—-the brash young aasimar Yna Emit and rival of Owt Roval, the dwarf trader On Gnikap, and human Xidreppo Stcaf—-were present. van Rijn presented his case for attacking the Gith Pirate base to Ecin Dek Oms, who considered it carefully. He noted that he would need to confer with the Junior Captains, who voted first, with the Senior Captain having two votes.

A ship-house was provided.

New Visitors and Happenings

Orixia is sitting outside a nearby shop where an aromatic hot beverage is sold. Its rich and pungent smell pervades the air. She is sitting contentedly with a large burbling water pipe made of artfully and intricately blown glass, her sword slung, feet up, reading an book of illustrated erotic poetry. The clockwork proprietor grinds more of the dark green beans and adds them to his copper-piped still. She passes the end of the pipe to Wendeam, who floats upright nearby. 

Not far away, van Rijn is at the butcher shop buying meat for his pablum flatbread. The tiefling butcher makes small talk with him about various trade matters. “What say you, Sir van Rijn, about the three eyed gimel? You clearly enjoy its flesh… as do all of Hest.” He hacks off a chunk of the flesh of the creature, and throws it into a sizzling pot of oil. “I have more today, but I would pay well for a reliable source….” He and van Rijn discuss such things every day. 

The crowd is light between watches. The folk of Hest have settled down after waiting for the God-Machine to act. It has not moved from its position, although Andra’s scrying reveals that the internal reconfigurations have proceeded and the interior has been altered almost totally from what it was before. The folk of Hest have finally given up making random gonging noises and kowtowing, after Orixia somewhat amusedly suggested to them to use a gong at a regular time so she could sleep. (Although like the rest of the party, she sleeps in the soundproof keep built by Razalflow.) 

A group, really a squad, of large creatures marches through the square. Each is the size of an ogre, although clearly not. They have a a broad head with an almost horselike maw, and stubby teeth or tusks more like swine. Each is wearing an odd green uniform and bearing a large musket, sheathed bayonets at their side, their heads topped with tall hats made from the fur of some unknown beast. They form up in a line in front of Orixia. An older one, hideously scarred and dressed in a grander red-coated uniform topped by a gold-fringed bicorne hat, a jeweled horn strapped to his snout steps to the side. He raises his blunderbuss and bellows an order, “Ten-SHUN!” The rest crash their musket butts into the ground in unison. She looks at them somewhat amusedly. 

The older one addressed Orixia in an odd voice. He speaks in a raspy, gruff voice, one that has bellowed orders over dozens of battlefields, “We have heard of you, captain, from one who served you before. The giff would be honored to slaughter your foes for coin and glory.” 




The redcoated giff looks Wendeam up and down, alternating eyes. “I see a warrior! You look tough, but I wonder just how tough you really are! We should fight and find out!” He brays uproariously, which you take to be a laugh. “But first, I must see to my platoon.” 

He looks at Orixia. “I wouldn’t have thought you were some kind of captain. You look like a poncy elf to me.” He gets real close and you’re not too sure his eyesight is all that good. She stares at him and sips the hot efek. “I’m afraid you have me at somewhat of a loss. I don’t even know who, er, what you are.” 

His eyes seem to cross. “We’re giff! We’re strong and proud and fight for glory and coin, coin and glory! We’ve fought gith pirates! Demons! Devils! Crazy shit you never heard about! Sometimes we lose and a lot of our boys die, but that’s the way of these things, can’t make an egg if you don’t break the omelette! So when it happens, you don’t look back. No sir. It’s back to the wallow for more of the lads! More there want to pursue the path of glory! But sometimes, sometimes you win… that is the sweet path of glory for you! Medals! How many medals”—-he thumps his chest, widely adorned with jewelery pins—-“do you have?” 



He studies Wendeam’s spear very closely. You think he might be somewhat nearsighted. He considers it for a while and then smiles (at least you think that’s what that look is). “Ahhhh… you keep your medals on your weapon, not your chest! Not so different than giff. Glory is essential for one’s name. Coin is nice.”

He considers Wendeam further and says, “I, Lieutenant Algernon Redcoat, challenge you to a duel to blood, or whatever passes for such from you. For honor and a test of our mettle.”


Awakening in a Broken Universe


Something terrible has happened. My patrol had been operating within acceptable parameters of the expected result. The minions of the Queen of Chaos had been active along my route, requiring a moderate amount of hunting. Once I had completed the destruction of a cluster of demon touched creatures and the infestation they revered, I proceeded towards the station along Cubic Three. Then when I stepped out of the gate I found myself confronted by a mixed band of humanoids in a disheveled cave by a malfunctioning cubic gate. It was also approximately 100,000 years after I had stepped into the gate.

The whole situation proved to be full of enigma and confusion. After some discussion with these savages, I pieced together the following approximation of events. The humanoids had had some sort of conflict with even more primitive humanoids. Eventually they uncovered the gate and got it to activate. That released me from whatever happened to the gate.

One race of them, the elves, was at least familiar. With my translator, I was able to establish effective communications and adjust to the debasements which they had applied to the language we gave them. The others were Lizardmen and Humans. The former resembled large reptilian animals which had been incapable of speech before I entered the gate. The latter were unfamiliar. They are overall somewhat bigger and more crudely made than elves. Lacking the pleasing angular qualities of the elves, they are ruled by rounder symmetries. More disturbingly, they are even more given to irrationality and emotional reactions.

The nature of these primitives merely hints at the more fundamental problem. The order of the universe is shattered. The celestial spheres do not intersect and align in beautiful and eternal cycles. The gates are in disrepair, the Vaati are unknown, peoples wander from world to world venerating strange creatures they call Gods. Reality itself is easily suborned by ritual manipulation of energies. The power to do so is granted to an alarmingly large subset of these humanoids by powerful beings. What those beings get out of it is unclear to me, but it seems not too dissimilar with the pacts that Lords of Chaos make with their supplicants. Perhaps these “Gods” are merely servants of the Queen in another guise. To my eyes, the war with Chaos has not gone well, perhaps not entirely lost, but certainly not decisively won. It is everywhere.

Despite their inadequacies, and they are too many and varied to list, the humanoids who repaired the gate have apparently been operating on the side of order. Well, more on the side of order than disorder. In any case, they are the only remotely reliable creatures I have discovered so far in this shattered place.

The Mission

Several of the humanoids have agreed to accompany me on my quest to Vale of Aaqa, so I can report my findings to the Council of the Vaati. They are Andra, a rude and curmudgeonly man skilled in magic; Nicholas van Rijn, a more well mannered man who uses both magic, sword, and gun; and Orixia a mostly civilized elf who uses magic and a bane sword similar to that borne by our people in war. After they had recuperated from their prior battle with the giant humanoids, I led them through through the Cubic Gate. The others stayed behind to guard the area, for we had to leave the gate open for fear that there would otherwise be no way back due to the gate’s malfunction.

Cubic Three Station

The station proved to be in severe disrepair. Empty of the Vaati, it had been infested by crude automatons. Hostile crude automatons. After defeating several of them, we were able to activate a different variety which had hidden itself from the others and self deactivated. My translator unit was able to convert its light signals into speech, so we interrogate it for a time. It called itself Silversann Unit 1. It, like the other automatons, had been made by The Master, whom we eventually discovered to be the Wizard Trobriand. This unit had achieved sentience and rebelled. Finding itself alone, it hid and shut down rather than be broken down as parts for a new kind of automaton.

We won it over to our side and discovered that it had remarkable facility with improving tools. It was able to make its own speaker unit, upgrade my translator, and improve some of our weapons. Silversan then guided us through the disheveled and ruined base to the Master’s lab.

The Lab was well guarded by a variety of powerful automatons and Trobriand himself. Though he had transplanted his head onto the body of an Iron Golem and shielded himself from reprisal behind a dome of glasssteel. It was a terrifically difficult fight. My Hound valiantly gave his life to assault them and give us a moment of respite. In the end, we were victorious, but it consumed many difficult to replace resources, including the bulk of my healing accelerator charges.

We spent a few days searching the base, resting, and watching Silversann Unit 1 assemble more Silversann, and the heavy duty maintenance Farragom units which serve them. We were able to recover some healing charge replacements from the fluid that had housed Trobriand’s body. For he had raided and corrupted the supply station’s charge complement to make the suspension fluid.

The most worrying thing we discovered was an ancient disassembled automaton. Of elegantly simple design and lethality. Simple enough that it was probably capable of making copies of itself. Lethal enough to be very dangerous in quantity. Ancient by current time keeping standards, it is possibly of only slightly lesser antiquity than myself. It is possible that this enemy was what overwhelmed the station and left it in a state suitable for Trobriand’s misappropriation. We made some notes regarding its design parameters and destroyed it.

We also recovered a number of devices whose subtlety was beyond Trobriand’s skill. Especially the control structure for his Golem. They were not familiar to me, though that is unsurprising for I have no need of such knowledge as a Hunter. Nonetheless, the quality and style seemed on par with the work of our people.

They packed up Silversann Unit 1 into an extra-dimensional space with a movable opening in the guise of a container to protect and hide him from whatever lay beyond. The container was in the form of a sack, for some inexplicable reason. Then proceeded through the hexahedral gate using the key we had recovered from Trobriand’s effects.


Through the gate we found that the Gate area was guarded, the guard had been set long ago by the higher orders. His only concern was that we should not proceed past him through the octahedral gate. He was dubious about my companions and concerned that the town below was too full of disorder. We negotiated a sort of understanding that he would let us pass if we fixed the issues in the city of Hest.

The city of Hest proved to be a very peculiar place. Its police force was comprised of Daemons, led by an Arcanaloth. Its people forced to make obeisance to the God machine, by bowing a certain number of times, apparently randomly chosen at random intervals. They were fed by basins which produced pablum, a highly nourishing and suitably bland food, several times daily. Furthermore its people were an odd assembly of humans, miscellaneous humanoids, and sentient clockworks.

Fortunately, its map and book vendor, Modron, was possessed of a book of the history of the Vaati, along with a number of maps interesting to my companions. The history book was somewhat disturbing in that it indicated that after an ancient and terrible war, the Vaati had retreated into the Vale and were rarely seen. It brought me hope in that it indicated that the Vale must still exist and my people may yet be found. It brought grief in the fear of what may have become of them to change their course from the way that I know.

Some Gith pirates assaulted us. Though not known to me before, they are of a kind with the lesser servants of Chaos. Similar in form to human and elvish kind, though singularly thin and lacking in moral character. The Gith roam the astral sea and take whatever they can by force. We destroyed the group who assaulted us, except for one who escaped. Anders was then assessed a fine for the damage his area magics caused to the surrounding shops.

Summoned into its presence, we made a deal with the Arcanaloth to destroy the Gith captain. It had an unspecified grudge. In turn it would give us the octahedral key. It also agreed to prepare us with its magics. We prepared an assault and had a largely successful battle against them, though they were quite skilled in martial and arcane matters of war. In the end, their captain chose to use explosive powder to destroy the back of the ship, along with most of the items they had purchased from the merchants of Hest. He was accidentally assisted in this by the hasty use of fire on Anders’ part. Anders was gravely injured, I only survived it by dint of the ring of fire resistance which we had the foresight to purchase in town.

Then we freed the hideously abused slaves of the Gith. In some cases it is possible that death might have been better for them than freedom, but it is not my place to make such judgements.

The God Machine

During our recuperation, especially Anders recuperation, we studied the God Machine. During one of its instructional dances, I noted a face staring out from within its eye. From this we deduced that it was hollow and that something lurked within to control it. Clearly the disorder of the town could only be solved by fixing the machine.

There was a great deal of debate about assaulting it from without, though no entrance was visible, versus my position of teleporting inside directly. Anders had a very great fear of teleporting into solid matter. Though being displaced to another place in the astral did not seem like such a terrible inconvenience to me. He persisted in opposing this idea until he recalled that he had the capability to view the area remotely. Once he engaged this ability, he found it to be a large hollow space with more than sufficient area for all of us to teleport within. However, in doing so his viewing was detected and set the God Machine into some kind of alarm reaction. This roused the town who were confused and tried to determine if it was setting a new obeisance ritual.

We used the ensuing confusion to teleport ourselves, and the Silversann and Ferragom units within. The machine summoned a series of demodands to assail us, but we persisted in protecting the automatons as they repaired broken parts of the machine. Oddly, they chose to do so by incorporating themselves into its workings. In the end they settled the machine and returned to Hest to rest and prepare.

We have not approached the octahedral gate, for it is not clear that the God Machine is operational. Its defensive matrix is not obviously active. It makes no motions. It sets no laws. The Daemons have fled, so the town lacks even their arbitrary protection. It is not clear that we have set the situation to rights.

- Hunter Wendeam of the Vaati

The Defeat of Trobriand and Reclamation of the God-Machine

After a long hard struggle, the damage done by Trobriand to theGod Machine has been repaired.

In a sense, things have come full circle, as the clockwork lore he stole for his own use from within the God Machine has become the source of his own undoing and then repair of his own damage.

Silversann Unit 1 (aka “Silver Sam”) aided the intrepid band of Andra, Orixia, van Rijn, and Wendeam, who in turn defended the surviving Silversanns as they integrated themselves into the God Machine with the help of the Ferragans. In addition, the Arcanaloth Razalflow and his yugoloth mercenaries departed in haste. Razalflow quickly realized that he had little chance against the God Machine in Its full might, and that the loyalty of the folk of Hest was not to him but to the God Machine. Better profits would be made elsewhere. However, now that Hest has been freed from the day to day control of the yugoloth, it is unclear exactly how it can remain free from the Gith Pirate Fleet. While the would-be Admiral was killed due to the scheming of Razalflow and the hard fighting of Andra, Orixia, vanRijn, and Wendeam, it is likely that another admiral will arise, given that Razalflow is no longer around to keep them in check. (One hopes that he and his yugoloth don’t simply go to the Gith and take over.)

The folk of Hest lack a warlike bent, and it is likely that they will have to adapt.


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