Sunday, November 15, 2015

Session 9 - "Eberhardt's Always Been Good To Us" (9/13/15)

-After the strange events in the tower and the sudden loss of young Lowtrade the party stumbled through the darkness in a partial state of shock. At the blockhouse the news of the deaths of Preacher and the boy were met with a subdued lament and then a quiet stoicism amongst the other Gloomlight prisoners; this was yet another reminder that death lurked everywhere so far beneath the surface.

-The party rested for almost a full day. Time passed strangely in the darkness and few words were spoken. Until, that is, someone--or something--called to them from outside.

-In a high voice without inflection, something outside called for help. It demanded the prisoners let it in, and when questioned of its identity it claimed to be Lowtrade.

-The Cheat ran up to the second floor to get a better look at whatever was outside. The thing heard him, though, and floated up to the window. The Cheat saw the black eyespots of brain-like creature looking back at him, with its tentacles wrapped around the bars. 

Lowtrade 2.0
-The party questioned the creature for some time, but every answer it gave confirmed that either this was the boy they watched fall into the yawning cleft below the Broken Span or something that had access to everything he knew. When the creature produced a ring featuring the crest of the boy's noble family they were convinced that somehow this was Lowtrade. They let him in. (And thus Allen's next new character was introduced. Or reintroduced?)

-Lowtrade told them he remembered swinging across the chasm and then waking up feeling confused and very strange. His belongings were scattered about, so he picked them up. Only then did he realized somehow his form was different; he no longer had hands, but tentacles, and when he moved found he merely floated a few inches above the floor. He could now see a slight difference in the darkness between the stone walls of the cleft and the air around it, and with this newfound ability navigated his way back to the blockhouse.

-The party suggested traveling up into the cleft to see if they could tell what happened.

-After a treacherous climb into the cleft (with the exception of Lowtrade, who simply touched the wall with his tentacles and floated up), the party pushed on. They traveled for a little while, slowed down by the uneven terrain. Within time they found the spot where Lowtrade woke up. They found some discarded clothing and a pile of reeking, unrecognizable decomposed material, but nothing else.

-They explored further until they found a cave near the back wall of the cleft. The air inside was damp and cool. They moved inside further, the stone wet and slick beneath their feet. Hundreds of small holes lined the walls and floor, many dripping with water. As they rounded a curve, they saw several cave fish flopping around and gasping in the air. These were not the fish they fought previously, which were adapted to travel on land for short periods of time; these were standard fish, pale and blind, and for some reason they were on the floor of the cave.

-After rounding another curve and finding more fish and extremely wet rock, they started to piece together what was going on in the cave. Of course, the thing they were speculating about actually happened and the cave rapidly filled with water. The party was fortunate, though, and managed to swim back to the entrance.

-They stood outside and shivered as the cave completely filled and then emptied once more after twenty or so minutes. Realizing he wasn’t actually breathing, Lowtrade volunteered to enter the cave once more to see where it led while the other members hung back and gathered fish to bring back to the blockhouse.

-Lowtrade went past the second curve, encountered standing water, and swam downward. The cave funneled into a narrow tube. Lowtrade realized he could fit into this tube, but even without the water it would be a treacherous crawl for the rest of the party. He was just about to head back when he saw something wedged in the mouth of the tube. He swam down further and found something metallic. He pried it loose just as a jet of water issued forth. It slammed him into the wall at the closest bend, but he was able to maneuver in the rushing water and eventually make it back to the entrance.

-The party took a look at Lowtrade’s find; it was a black, metallic thing not unlike a spider. There was a metal ring on the underside of the thing, and they figured it was some kind of grappling hook, although the limbs were curled to tight to be used in most situations. In more light they saw a small retractable needle in the thing’s mouth. Ever curious, The Cheat pricked his skin with the needle. The needle began draining some of his blood and the legs of the grappling hook uncurled, moving slightly of their own accord. The Cheat tied a rope to the ring and threw it up as high as he could. The spider clung tenaciously to the sheer face of the cleft wall, and easily took his weight. By merely thinking of it, the spider let go and fell back to the ground.

-Glad their trip wasn’t completely in vain, the party decided to head back. Upon climbing out of the cleft they found Gloomlight lit up with a column of light—miles above, the sun was directly over the shaft that led to Lord Eberhardt’s estate. However, there was something in this column of light. A vast chain, just like they one they were lowered down on days before. They crept forward to investigate.

-On the Quay stood one of Eberhard’s guards. He wore the customary scale mail of the guard and bore one of the same hooks the prisoners used to hold onto the chain and only a short sword at his waist.

–The party called out to the guard under cover of darkness. He replied that he was sent here by Lord Eberhardt to check in on them. Sensing their reticence, the guard assured them that while he wore the guard uniform he was more sympathetic to their plight than it would seem. He asked them to come out so he could see them.

-Warbaby volunteered to speak with the man. They remained suspicious; Lowtrade floated just out of sight close to Warbaby,  The Cheat snuck through the dark to the south, and Lightfoot ducked into the arcades beneath the Quay.

-When Warbaby showed himself, the guard introduced himself as D’Jasper Probincrux III. He said he fell into ill favor with Lord Eberhardt after expressing concerns about the welfare of the prisoners of Gloomlight; he was summarily sent down below to check how they were doing with Eberhardt’s orders (reopen the mines as well as find magic items through either adventure or trading with the denizens of the beneath.) Probincrux looked genuinely upset when Warbaby told him only ten of the original thirty prisoners were still alive, but asked if they had found anything of value he could show to Eberhardt. He claimed any proof would result in a fresh delivery of supplies.

-Reluctant to let go of anything valuable where resources were so scarce, Warbaby asked how he could trust the guard’s words. Probincrux pointed out that they had almost no leverage to bargain—he was convinced his Lord would let them starve in the dark if he suspected they weren’t doing his bidding. However, he tried to reassure them that not all who served Eberhardt supported him. Many were merely biding their time as moves were made in secret to depose the cruel lord. Probincrux urged them to cooperate for now for he was confident that in time they would be rescued.

-From beneath the Quay, Lightfoot began shouting abuse at the guard. He questioned the truth of any of his statements and took personal offense at the notion that they needed to be rescued. Certainly his calling as a cleric of That Which Carves the Aeons clouded his judgement, and his companions were quick to point out to Probincrux that they would like to escape.

-In time Lowtrade revealed himself to the guard, which startled him a great deal. The group (save Lightfoot, who was still making negative comments from his hiding place beneath them) decided to give him something to take back to Eberhardt. After spending some time thinking it over, they realized the best item they could send up was their newfound spidery grappling hook. With a sigh, The Cheat handed it over.

-Probincrux told them he only had an hour before the chain went back up, so he wanted to wait by the quay. He told the group to stay safe and to expect something within the next few days.

-The party headed back to the blockhouse, where they encountered a startling sight. Standing by the entrance were three pale, spindly humanoids resembling eyeless cave salamanders. When the party got close enough the beings turned to them and one stepped forward. It said, in a distinctly feminine voice, “We seek the Warchild.”