Thursday, August 6, 2015

Gloomlight Session 7: The Tower and the Corpse Balloon (7/19/15)

The prisoners of Gloomlight finally bridge the broken span and find, once again, that most mysteries are ultimately just trying to kill them. Also, Preacher, the dwarven miner, undergoes a terrible transformation.
 
-The party made camp in the tunnel a hundred feet from the blue pool, each member taking watch while the others slept. They had no idea how long they slept or kept watches in the cool darkness of the tunnel. Lightfoot heard sounds from the pool while on watch and snuck back to the mouth of the tunnel, where he saw heat signatures like the landwalking fish they had battled earlier. The fish were crawling about, and, he presumed, eating any remnants of battle that remained on the shore. Confident they hadn't seen him, he went back to camp.

-The party backtracked down the tunnel which led to the fortress. When they got close enough, they encountered signs of the Corbies; claw marks on the stone and whitish piles of droppings. It seemed the corbies gave up on their chase early. The Cheat and Preacher poked through the corby droppings, finding a tiny humanoid skull and some silver coins. The Cheat decided to save some of the droppings in case he could find a use for them later.

-Carefully entering the chamber below the fortress, the party found more evidence of the corbies, but the crow-men seemed long gone. On their way out of the chamber, they noticed that the corbies had not disturbed the ritually placed slave mummy; no footprints disturbed the dust within ten feet of the thing.

-The party made it up the entire inner staircase with no further signs of the corbies. Above, The Cheat called for Mother, looking to trade his coins. Mother responded and said he might be interested, but he had his fill of people for the time being and The Cheat should come back later.

-Returning to the blockhouse, Deadlight and the others revealed they thought the party was dead after the corbies gave chase. After Lightfoot and Warbaby alerted the corbies to their presence the day before, the corbies tried to gain entrance to the blockhouse, but the people inside remained as quiet and still as possible until the crow-men gave up.

-The Cheat offered to go upstairs to the second floor to clean and dry the fish. When he came back downstairs Preacher noticed blood on his arm, but The Cheat covered it and claimed he had cut himself while cleaning the fish. Later, they discovered he had given himself a crude tattoo that read "PINKY".

-While they rested, Preacher figured out how to make a passable grappling hook from the hooks they used to ride the chain down into Gloomlight. With a great length of rope, the party decided to head off to see if they could cross the broken span and gain access to the tower, hoping to investigate the strange purple light they glimpsed a few nights back.

-The Cheat, the most nimble party member, fastened a rope to his waist and tied the grappling hook to another. He stepped out onto the span, which shook the loose masonry beneath his feet. He waited until it stabilized and threw the hook across the gap three times, dislodging several large stones from the bridge below him, before it took purchase. The party pulled the rope taut and The Cheat climbed across, where he tied off more rope to fashion a crude bridge. The other party members used this to cross; some slipped, but had the foresight to use a safety line so their drop was only a few feet.

-On the other side, the party found an empty guard house and then a bridge that ascended to a squat, terraced building, from which rose the tower. Seven darkened archways opened from the terrace to the interior of the builiding, and inside they found a large altar in the center of the room, inscribed with Hadal markings. Rings were set into the ground around this altar, and a depression in the center suggested it was meant for someone to sit on. There were two closed doors to the north, a stairway to the west and also a three foot basin filled with teeth; they recalled the pile of teeth they found in the blockhouse and confirmed that these were all incisors as well. They also noted eight square shafts in the ceiling above, each ten by ten feet. Their lights could not penetrate the darkness of these holes, and it had a reflective quality, like liquid.

The Cheat's Nightmare
-After investigating the door to the right and hearing an unsettling whispering inside, they decided to open the center-most door instead. Warbaby hid around the corner, Preacher opened the door, The Cheat stood in front and Lightfoot behind. Inside, an eerie bluish light shone, not unlike moonlight. The light grew brighter, but when the source of the light appeared Preacher and Lightfoot were transfixed, incapable of discerning just what they were looking at. The Cheat, however, recognized it--he recalled the summer afternoon by the swimming hole when a snake bit his friend Jimmy; Jimmy nearly died from the creature's venom, and it instilled in the Cheat a lifelong fear of snakes. What he saw, shining in the darkness, was a giant version of the same snake that nearly killed his friend Jimmy. He acted quickly and slammed the door closed. Inside the snake smashed against the door, shaking the entire wall around it. The party decided it would be prudent to head upstairs should the snake escape its prison.

-On the second floor, they found railings surrounding the eight shafts they had seen below. From above, they confirmed some manner of black liquid filled these holes. The Cheat crept to the edge of the closest railing and peered in; his body went rigid. Below was a tiny pink point of light, growing larger. The others came near and looked down; what they saw was not something growing larger, but something far, far away coming closer. By the time they realized what it was, The Cheat started grunting and squealing like a pig, for that's what it was down there in the dark--an impossibly huge, malevolent pig's face. They pulled The Cheat away, who started convulsing, and tried snapping him out of his trance. Behind them the pink light grew brighter. Preacher put the corby-shit covered miniature skull into The Cheat's mouth, which did the trick. The Cheat snapped out of it, gagging. The light stopped behind them, and the portal went dark.

-The party decided to save the other potential portals for later and headed up the stairs. The stairway spiraled upward for over a hundred feet before terminating at a trap door set in the floor above. Inside, they found a large, circular room. In it was a bed covered in dusty blankets, a desk, and several empty bookshelves. A layer of dust covered the floor, and a light breeze blew in from the balcony to the west. It appeared there was nothing in this room. However, careful examination revealed footprints in the dust at the center of the room, trod in a figure eight pattern. They tried following them exactly several times, to no effect. After Lightfoot used his ability to speak with the air of the room, it was decided that they should stay close, speculating that whatever haunted the place always returned at a certain time.

John Kenn Mortensen: my new favorite artist
-The party headed back to the second floor to experiment with the portals, as they could possibly contain a way out. They peered into the portal closest to the tower stairs, and inside saw a vast, dusty plain, lit by a dim sun. In the foreground walked a little boy wearing threadbare clothes. Over his shoulder was slung a rope, and the rope was tied around the neck of a large figure floating behind him. It was a bloated corpse, easily ten feet tall, and it's lower half seemed hazy, incorporeal. Its white eyes were trained on the far horizon as it dutifully followed the boy.

-Someone ran upstairs and grabbed one of the chairs from the tower and threw it into the portal. The surface went black immediately after the chair disappeared inside it, but when the surface settled their view of the plain returned. The boy and his companion were now standing in front of the chair, examining it carefully. The Cheat decided to fire an arrow into the pool; since it barely disturbed the surface, there was only a moment of blackness. The arrow was buried in the dust by the boy's feet, and his floating corpse ghost now bore an expression of rage. Its eyes began glowing, and it floated closer to the portal. Shortly, the creature filled their entire view, and his mouldering hand rose up from the surface. It groped around, trying to find purchase, when The Cheat scattered a handful of the teeth he had pocketed across the portal's surface. It went black and the thing's foul-smelling arm sank back.

-When the portal stabilized, the floating corpse was now missing an arm, and it and the boy were attempting to hurry away. The portal remained trained on the duo, however. Preacher, seeing the dim sun on the other side, was overtaken by memories of the cave in that left him trapped in a mine amongst the Korthal Hills for months. He decided whatever was on the other side of the portal was better than the darkness of Gloomlight and began climing over the railing. Warbaby tried to restrain him, but the dwarf was too strong. He clambered over the side and then fell in with a splash. 

-When the surface settled, the party saw Preacher struggling to his feet in the dust. The boy and his corpse stood in front of him. 

-The boy asked Preacher who he was, telling him he was not supposed to be there. Preacher told him he was there to help, and that the boy was meant to take him to the nearest town. The boy shook his head, telling him that there were no towns, only dust. He asked him if he was the one who fired an arrow at him and took his guardian's arm. Preacher tried to explain that it wasn't him but someone else, but the boy didn't believe him. The boy's eyes began glowing, and Preacher lifted off the ground. The party attempted to throw rope into the portal, but when the rope hit the surface everything went black. Moments later, a length of severed rope sat by Preacher's floating feet.

-The boy explained that his guardian was now damaged, and he would need a new one as he traveled across the dust. Preacher's body began expanding, his skin mouldering. The boy reached town, tied a loop at the end of the rope the party threw in, and put it around Preacher's neck. He then walked off, two floating corpses at his back.