Friday, June 27, 2014

Intercontinental Numenera One-Shot - The Crawling Lake

The Crawling Lake


Characters


  • Corvyn, a Strong-Willed Nano who Crafts Illusions, played by Christian
  • Caldros, an Honorable Glaive who Metes Out Justice, played by Andy


Summary

Corvyn and Caldros entered the Westwood of Navarene in the service of the Emol family of Naavis.  The sellswords were planning an excursion into the Beyond, but required a bit more experience and mastery with the numenera first, and were hoping to acquire an artifact or two before crossing the Black Riage.  Luckily for the pair, the Emols, a logging clan operating in the deep and deadly Westwood forest, lost a precious piece of equipment in the woods called a "Behemoth", and they needed someone to help discover it's whereabouts.  Behemoths were large machines that could be operated remotely by one skilled in the numenera, and fell trees completely on their own.  Although little more than an automaton-lumberjack to the Emol family, these amazing pieces of equipment that were the size of boulders must have served another purpose in a prior world.  The last place the Behemoth was seen was near the Crystal Pool, a place of myth and mystery where local legend told of a Dead God known only as The Minotaur residing in the waters.  

Corvyn and Caldros weren't afraid of Dead Gods.  

Several hours into their trek the pair came across a rather disgusting scene.  A squad of four woodsmen were lying on the ground being devoured by a Zabrin.  Native to the Westwood, Zabrin were large, five foot wide beetles that had tentacles instead of legs and a sharp, piercing mouthpart that would enter a victim and digest them before sucking the juices back up.  The Zabrin obviously killed three of humans, but one looked to be alive and twitching still.  Corvyn had seen several "bears" in the woods during the first leg of their march, and so he summoned forth the image of one of these monstrous creatures while using a cypher to remain safely hidden from the tentacled beetle.  Upon seeing the massive form, the Zabrin quickly shuffled away from it's meal, not even attempting to put up a fight.  Caldros approached the woodsmen and noticed that they were adorned in the colors of the Emol's rivals, the Vadris family.  The group's scout was still alive, but severely injured so the glaive immediately went to work patching her wounds.  Her name was Dineria, and while she appreciated Caldros' splint for her broken leg, she was not happy when Corvyn suggested that she walk herself out of the forest.  She insisted that the two accompany her out of the forest, and that they would be greatly rewarded if they did so.  Caldros had admitted to Dineria that they were working for the Emol family, and being quite adept at seeing through lies and trickery figured that the woman had an interest in seeing this mission fail.  Still, the glaive told the woman that she could accompany them to the pool or stay behind.  She chose to follow along, complaining the entire way.

Once at the Crystal Pool, Caldros and Corvyn looked upon an amazing scene.  The lake was nearly five-hundred feet across, and at it's center was a fifty foot wide, four pointed structure that rose forty feet out of the water and was made of a dull grey metal.  The structure appeared to be hovering above the water, and there were circles of vibration in the waters surrounding its base.  On one side of the structure, close to shore, was the dissolving form of a large machine, which the party deduced to be the Behemoth.  Like a sugar cube in hot tea the machine was submerged in the water and was slowly coming apart.  On the northern shore was a village of spider-people known as Culova.  Warned of these creatures before they left, the Culova were indigenous to the Westwood and were a constant threat to lumber operations.  Afraid to go into the water, the party looked for other options to get onto the structure.  The trees surrounding the pool were massive, and their canopy's touched about a hundred feet above the structure, with each tree's boughs creating a vine-like network giving the forest multiple "levels".  It was in these other levels that the Culova commonly made their homes and villages.  Dineria kept asking a lot of questions rather loudly, and it seemed obvious that she wanted to get the Culova's attention so that the mercenaries would have to disengage from the scene and flee.  So Caldros tied Dineria up, gagged her, and placed her at the side of a nearby trail so that if she made any noise the Culova would find her.  

Finding one of the nearby trees suitable, Caldros was the first to climb, using metal spikes to make the ascent easier for Corvyn as he followed.  But Corvyn's ascent was not so easy.  Nearly to the level where the branches of all nearby trees tied together, Corvyn found the spikes that Caldros placed were starting to loosen and fall as the massive tree swayed with a great breeze.  One of the spikes fell right near a patrolling Culova, and when it came closer to investigate Dineria started to scream.  The Vadris family scout chewed through her gag and told the Culova that the two sellswords were directly above it.  Caldros tried to cover Corvyn's climb, firing a heavy quarrel at the spider-guard, striking it in the abdomen.  But this did not kill the guard, who blew a horn and started climbing.  Soon, five other spiders were in pursuit and the two mercenaries had to move quickly across the branches in the direction of the pool's center.  When directly above the metallic structure, there were two Culova who were nearly on top of the party.  Caldros used a matter disrupting cypher to damage the spiders and destroy the branches below their feet, letting the two guards fall into the water.  Expecting the Culova to dissolve, the party was surprised that they merely swam out of the pool a bit agitated.  Upon closer inspection, however, the spiders lost all of their metallic gear, as their spearheads and arrow heads, buckles and clasps all dissolved when they touched the water.  Not waiting to ask questions, Corvyn finished lashing the rope to the branches and the two climbed down to the structure below.  

On top of the structure Corvyn and Caldros found a small puddle of water and a few skeletal remains.  Apparently someone else made it to the top of this building but never left.  At least he left a shatter wand artifact behind, which Corvyn happily scooped up.  It didn't take long for the two to be agitated standing on the building, as it vibrated and shook so rapidly that it was starting to hurt their knees.  Adjacent to the northern face of the structure a wooden dock or platform was sticking up out of the water, so the duo slid down the metallic surface and landed on the wooden planks.  There was still no obvious door in sight, but peering underneath the structure the party could tell that while the building seemed to hover from a distance, up close there was a tiny point at the center that actually touched the water creating the ripples of vibration.  Corvyn looked at the flat surface of the structure, hoping to find some kind of entrance.  Carefully applying three fingers to the metal, a single black portal appeared.  Although they could not see inside, a stale air blew out from inside the chamber.  Using his motion sensor, Caldros noted that there were eight moving shapes within, four on either side moving up and down.  Figuring that the odds were low that there were eight bouncing monsters, the two simply entered the room.

At the center of the chamber was the Minotaur: a single dome with a pair of hornlike protrusions ending in wires attached to the walls.  Two display screens mounted next to each other on the dome showed a strange language flashing while a single terminal was located in the center of the mass.  Eight massive pistons were located in the room as well, constantly moving with the assistance of a gross, green lubricant.  Looking behind the domed "Minotaur God" was a closed and secured eight foot long container.  Unable to open it from the side, Corvyn moved to the terminal and started playing with the controls.  It quickly became apparent to the nano that this entire discovery was set to minimize the size and mass of metallic objects.  It used the waters surrounding it to facilitate the transmutation, and inside the container were thousands of miniature oddities, one being the shrunken Behemoth.  Not only could the building shrink metal, it could also be set to shrink other types of material, such as non-metallic minerals or organics.  

Needing a way to escape the building, flee from the Culova, and get back to Naavis, Corvyn and Caldros enacted an ingenious plan.  First, they searched the miniature metal oddities until they found a shrunken rowboat.  Corvyn set the structure to minimize organic material, which would keep the Culova at bay.  He then reversed the process for the rowboat, which was reconstructed just in front of the portal.  The dock was now gone, as it was organic in nature, and after grabbing the miniature Behemoth, Caldros jumped into the boat, followed shortly after by Corvyn.  The two had grabbed pieces of the building's interior to act as metal paddles, and they headed down river away from the arachnid threat.  The Emol family wouldn't be happy that their priceless artifact was now the size of a toy, but perhaps the Minotaur discovery could be of use to the clan.