Iron Gods - Mike Korupp

Journal of Shadow Mal 9

Entry 147, Day 30, Evening

My skill at lying was insufficient, or the ruffians had no interest in legal behavior, and they attempted to attack me. I buried them in darkness and withdrew, removing the darkness only once I had blessed the party and gotten behind cover. I would feel bad about doing this to the humans if they were not jerks who had it coming.

A short battle with minions and constructs on the surface was rapidly followed by a shorter battle inside the ship with smaller robots and the cowardly leader of the group. I breathed lightning for the first time, it was quite exhilarating. The fact that the machines exploded was somewhat less pleasing, but such is life. I believe father would be proud.

After dispatching the brigands and healing our injuries, we investigated the rest of this tech dungeon and found 2 mutated goblins. They were dispatched quickly enough, and skimming the journal of the bandit leader we determined that they and the orc had been recruited to guard the “back door.” There were also 3 disgusting blots of tumorous flesh soaking in puddles of brackish water and their own filth. Hungry Flesh, they cannot be cut without growing back and growing larger, and must be beaten or burned to be killed. Fortunately they did not attack, it seems they were still well-fed at the time. I am concerned about the health of being here, with whatever is the source of these mutations, but the techsperts assure me that it is safe.

The “back door” is more concerning and less-easily comforted. A passage down, down into Nar-Voth, and perhaps beyond. My hope is that the oozes of wet cancer will slide down that path and trouble us no more. But to be safe we have sealed the door and are camping aboveground.

Entry 148, Day 32, Morning

My anti-disease magic is holding the infection at bay today, and I must write this while I am still sapient, because this malady is quite deadly.

We awoke to a crashing and thumping. The oozes were hungry and had decided to follow us up the stairs. A quick scry revealed they were attempting to bash down the door, and we had little time before they would breach. We arranged ourselves as I cursed myself for dumping my lamp oil. The damage done by flames would have helped, however little, but we made do with what we had. The battle was slow, disgusting, and horrifying as we expended most of our alchemist’s fire on the blobs, beating and burning them to death. Both I and Flynn were afflicted by a tumorous contagion that saps my health and my will. I am not powerful enough to cure this disease, and should I succumb I know I shall rise again as another wet, pustulent smear of hideous hungry flesh.

I feel fear. Fear of death, fear of becoming a monster, fear of something slow and inescapable. Far more horrible than the hot-blooded fear in battle, this eats and gnaws at me. My hope is that the healers of Aldronard’s grave can help, if not, I have little else to hope for, I can only hold the affliction at bay for so long.

After burning and cleaning, we made our way back south. The villagers and the captain of our vessel were uncomfortable with the presence of plague-bearers and demanded we quarantine ourselves away from everyone else. We sat at the back of the boat, and were thus the first to notice when chain-encrusted devils known as Kyton attempted a nighttime raid upon us.

As creatures of pain, torture, and horror they were covered in chains and did their best to subdue (but not kill) anyone they could get their hands on. The fight was frantic, as I seem to have been the only one to pack holy water on this expedition, necessary to defeat their regeneration. The fight also took a turn for the disturbing when Flynn chose to molest one of his opponents in an attempt to infect her with the tumor disease. We killed two of them, cramming silver pieces into their throats to block their regeneration and threw the third over the side and into the river.

Creepy moves, Flynn. Creepy moves.

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Sailing to Aldronand's Grave

We began searching the basement of this complex and it is pretty dank. It could definately use some cleaning up. If we’re going start using this place for manufacturing it’ll need some help. For starters there is a path that leads down into the Darklands. There were also some mutants running around the basement. Lastly there were some strange things slimes sitting around. We decided to leave the slime things there and if anything came up from the Darklands, one of the two would be eliminated.

We go upstairs and call it a night. The next morning while having a nice cup of coffee we heard a loud banging from inside the complex. Mal looked through the wall and saw the three slimes trying to get out. A rather long and repulsive battle ensued, resulting in Flynn and Mal getting some horrible disfiguring disease.

We walk back to town and while they are happy that we’ve cleared the problem, they aren’t to keen on our disease people hanging out. We have the town’s appreciation, but they’re pretty small to be of significant help. Then we get to our boat and the captain expresses the same concern about us being on the boat. If this trip to Aldronand’s Grave goes bad we’ll owe the captain double time and some magical healing.

As we’re sailing along, we’re boarded at night. 3 Chain Devils climbed up the back of the ship and attempted to take prisoners. I’m not sure what devils want with us, but I’ve got no interest in finding out. The fight dragged on for way too long. We really weren’t hurting them and they were slowly wearing us down. In the end Susie put them to sleep, I threw one overboard and two were beheaded. Even after beheading they continued to regenerate, so we had to finish them off with silver coins. I’d have to say, that is not something I ever expected to do. I am concerned that Flynn seemed far too interested in molesting a female devil than he was in defending himself or repelling the intruders. I’ll ask the paladins to detect evil on him.

I’m also looking forward in talking to the paladins in Aldronand’s Grave. They will hopefully be able to fill us in on the happenings going on in Scrapwall. In addition I’m hoping our interests and theirs will coincide. If we can assist them in their mission, maybe I can convince some of them to relocate to Torch. Protecting the people of Torch is a noble goal and I’m hoping to convince some of them to take charge of improving the defenses there.

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Vidon in the Crafting Forge.
We continue our search.

After we had dispatched the Leader and his friend along with their robots we continued to check out the rest of this place. We found a couple of other robots and dispatched them. Then Harkness and Mal I think found some more buttons and they went button pushing happy. As we continued our search we found the tunnel leading to the Darklands and the two Goblins that had been tasked with guarding it. They were mutated like the Orc we had fought earlier in town and took a while but they fell too.

There had been a mention of the “Waste disposal” area. We found it and it contained three masses of what looked to be jelly-like creatures. They were big suckers though. I didn’t like the look of them and advised them to leave them alone. We thought they would serve as adequate guardians of the tunnel to the Darklands. It was not to be though. As we exited the structure and closed and locked the doors there came a loud boom from the other side and the door shook. Harkness and Susie took up positions near the door. Mal had used his ability to see through doors to see it was the three cancerous growths on the other side. However, they had grown somewhat. Two were larger than us and one was larger still. They were pounding on the door and it soon gave way. Flynn did his usual “Hey, look at me I’m a target” ploy to try to slow them down it worked for one. However, he got hit and there started to be a growth similar to the creatures growing on his arm. Susie had decided to not use her spell to make me larger when we fought the Goblins. It turns out it was a good idea. Cause she used it now. Mal I believe told us that slashing and piercing weapons would heal these creatures so I pulled my Warhammer and went to work on big boy. It took a while but eventually we overcame the creatures. We also found out that when they dissolve they leave behind a very toxic grease. That was how Mal got hit. He went to walk through the remains of the big one and fell face first in the goo.

We went back to town to speak with the Captain of the barge to see how he felt about taking us on or going back to Hakadose. We were exactly halfway between Hakadose and someone’s Grave. The Captain was hesitant to take us back on board but we convinced his they were not contagious. So as we were traveling down river one night we were woken to find that there were three creatures that were draped in chains that were climbing the stern of the barge. Neither Flynn nor I had time to dress in our armor so we fought in our tunics and trousers. I think I will invest in an armored nightshirt. I don’t like fighting ‘naked’. Flynn used his affliction to harm one of the creatures. I believe afterward Mal told us they were Demons called Kytons. They were trying to capture us not kill us so that helped a little. Mal put one of them asleep and Arim carried her over to the rail to throw her overboard. We killed one and pushed the other overboard. They didn’t return. We continue on toward someone’s Grave.

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Susie's Journal #4

I feel sorry for the villagers. Not only did that monster kill several townsfolk, they were being fleeced by the brigands. Give us your food and money in return for protection, followed by a wink and a nod. We all know what that means. Although we came too late to save all of the townsfolk, we were able to save some. Hopefully that little girl at the dock will grow up remembering how she brought people from the dock to save the town and not just remembering the devastation wrought by that creature. We talked with the town elders and they let us know who was responsible for part of their misery. We will take care of them.

Another spaceship in the middle of nowhere. Actually, towns seem to develop near these things. I wonder if that is just an oddity with the two we have found or if there is more to it than that. Oh well, the brigands that inhabited this ship won’t be around for long. Not sure if it was bravery or stupidity to go talk to the guards, but we did it. Fortunately we saw the other guards trying to sneak around so we were able to ambush the ambushers. Unfortunately the leader got away – temporarily.

Although this ship does not appear to be as large as the previous ship, I am still impressed every time we step into one. To think that we are stepping way into the past but are surrounded by technology that is vastly ahead of ours. We did find what appears to be the leader of these brigands on the second deck as well as the lead engineer(?). Those two will not be harming anyone ever again. Delora went into combat and her sword appears to be able to pierce these robots as well as the dwarven war axe. She will definitely be helpful in future combats against these robots. I keep wondering how this technology, which is ages ahead of ours isn’t more deadly. Fortunately or unfortunately, Vidon showed us just what it is capable of doing. One second he is a barbarian, the next he is running for his life with scorch marks on his chest. Going to guess that probably hurt. Their leader went down due to numerous hits. So far the party seems pleased with my performance even though I don’t even bother carrying a weapon half the time now. I have to admit this does make it easier to clean up after a battle – no weapon to clean or sharpen!

Her singing is also a welcome reprieve. Before, the singing by the various party members was tolerable at best; an assault to the senses at worst. Now marching doesn’t seem nearly as bad. Delora just picks a tune, magically creates a musical instrument and the miles just seem to vanish. So far she hasn’t sung the same song twice either. Even if she were to, it would still be better than what my ears were subjected to previous to her joining the group. The funny thing is that I didn’t realize just how bad everyone else’s singing was until I heard the voice of someone who is a professional. I wonder what other amazing things I will witness as I travel these lands.

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Susie's Thoughts

Delora has joined the group. Not quite sure what her long term plans are but so far she has proven her worth. She is almost my opposite. As much fun as it is to torment the enemy with hexes, I can see the benefit of boosting one own’s group too. She also is willing to go into hand-to-hand combat which is more than I can say about myself. Then again, what would I do in hand-to-hand combat, shake hands. give high fives? I noticed her sword is made of adamantium. That will be a definite bonus as we move forward. All of these robots are made of metal and having your sword made of an even stronger metal is a definite plus. So ultimately the question is: what does she want? She used to know Harkness, but now that a different android is in Harkness will she feel as part of the group or will she be turned off by the different mentality that now resides inside his body? Will she be an individual personality within the group or will she be a cohort, will she stay with us….? Only time will tell.

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Journal of Shadow Mal, part 8

Entry 145, Day 29, Morning

We have a new compatriot. A tattoo-covered woman (android) named Delora has decided to join the son-self (whatever) of her old mentor Orvid and weave an epic ballad. It is quite serendipitous that a songmage should join us so soon after learning of the Song of Extinction. This will require further reflection. We have also lost a companion, I can no longer justify keeping Hughie or my cart with us. The difficulties in transporting a cart where there is no land are too great, and with extradimensional storage, it is also irrelevant.

Travel was uneventful, we sailed north for two days. At the end of the second day we came upon the village of Hacklemore just as it was coming under attack by forces unknown. Charging into battle with the attackers we found them to be a single orc, female, but of gross mutation and horrid strength. It hit like a runaway cart and unnaturally regenerated as fast as it hurt, but we overwhelmed its defenses and put a stop to its murderous rampage.

Speaking to the townsfolk we learned that the beast came from the same direction as the tech-forge we are looking for, as well as some local racketeers who were doing the old “protection” racket. This morning we intend to follow the beast’s trail and see what connections exist between the three. I remain uncertain what could link the mutant and the bandits, or why the monster would come to the town instead of attacking closer targets.

Entry 146, Day 30, Afternoon

Following the trail proved fairly simple, it seems the orcish mutant was angry at every living thing. She left a wide trail of destruction with broken trees and torn earth behind her. Given what I recall from Ksh’arko Kanta’s blasphemous work “Fleshwarping made Fun” she was probably in endless horrible pain as a result of whatever magic or technology had so twisted and altered her form and the orc was likely taking out frustrations of pain on the ground.

After a few hours travel we found our way to a pass that led into a large valley. Well, truth be told it was more of a crater, but Arim expressed certainty that the pass was a recent development, and a quake had just opened it up. Upon venturing inside we found a large forested valley with the tell-tale shine of star-metal in the center.

We trekked our way to the center, and found a squat structure, doubtless mostly buried, which was guarded by a team of soldiers in training. I believe it was Susie chanced to recollect their banner was a defaced symbol of a noble house from the city of Chesed. After consternation I was urged to use divination magic on the heraldry and determined that the man leading this group was another gunslinger, one who had been shamed and cast out for failure. He was trying to raise an army in some half-cocked scheme for revenge.

A concern arises to me. These may be thugs, but they are all-too mundane thugs. The bestial orc that attacked Hacklemore was clearly not the kind of creature that would follow the orders of these men, nor ignore them or flee them if it knew they were there. This makes me wonder where she came from, and where more might come from in time.

In any event, come night fall I shall speak to them. It is possible we can simply convince them to leave, and if not they will chase me into an ambush instead of bunker down in their safe little hold. Hmm…paperwork is often intimidating, perhaps I will claim an eviction notice…

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Harkness side note 10
Letter to Torch

Dear, Khonnir and Brothers and Sisters

I’ve found out that my previous life was named Orvid and he was a contributing member of Hakadose. He thought he found an Android Forge! I do not know what he intended to do with the forge. All I know was that he traveled to the forge’s location and was caught by the league and later found by Khonnir. The leaders of Hakadose have recently told me about the location and about someone who might know where it is. So I’m writing to y’all asking for guidance. I am troubled, what should I do if it turns out to be real. The location of this person is past Scrapwall so I don’t think I’ll be dealing with it soon but I want to have some input as this effects us all or at least I think it does. This forge has the potential of literally raising an army for anyone who finds it. Please keep this in mind when reading.

I hope too see y’all soon,

Harkness

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Letters Home
letter 4

Salutations mom and dad

So after leaving the city our journey took us down the river towards the next town, which the navigator of our boat swore up and down the it was called, and this is verbatim “West Bumblefuck” even thought the town, which as it turns out is called Hecklemore, is located on the East side of the river. Upon approach of the town we found it to be on fire and the citizens under attack of a troll/orc, forgive the uncertainty but with the light being dimmer at the time and my knowledge between two such creature being limited i would not be able to tell you the difference at this time.

With quick haste we dispatched the beast with almost certain ease. However we weren’t quick enough to prevent the needless loss of a few of the villagers. After the battle ended, Vidon, our dwarven companion helped dig graves for those how had fallen as I attempted to raise the morale of the village with my skill in the kitchen.

We were later informed that the village that we saved was being extorted by a local bandit group, which turned out to be lead by some disgraced military favoring noble from a city more northern than Scrapwall. He and his bandits were asked to leave the city and never come back by one of our party members as nicely as you can for an unpaid 3rd party.

We are about to set off to find an artifact that Harkness wished to pursue and then after that we will be most likely off to Scrapwall to meet an associate of ours.

Will send another letter as soon as i can, with all my love,
Flynn Sileet

P.S. There has been a bit of talk about what to call our party to really identify ourselves in the cities we come across but nothing has really been decided. Any input you have on the matter would be appreciated.

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Harkness Journal (Life 234) Entry 11
The Crafting Forge

During the night I wrote a letter explaining about the forge and how I should act on it.

That morning Lady Altouna wanted to see me before I left. I asked if anyone wanted to go Mal and Arim did and we went to see them. When we arrived Lady Altouna wanted to say her goodbyes and wanted to introduce someone to me. I wonder who since I did not know to many people. Before Lady Altouna could introduce her a red hair woman hugged me. She seemed to be an android but looks more “human”. Lady Altouna said her name was Delora. Delora explained that Orbid had found her and raised her like a daughter. Since Orvid was gone she felt it was her duty to help her “sibling”. She asked if she could join our group. I told her she was more than welcome but it wasn’t my decision. I asked the group and to my surprise they did not mind at all.

As we traveled to the forge I told Delora about our adventures… It feels nice to have siblings. As we approached a nearby town we saw fire and a little girl waving us down. When we docked Delora asked what was wrong and apparently a mutated Orc was killing towns folk. Needless to say we rushed to the town. The Orc had mutated and gone rampant. This is probably because of the hydraulic fluid. It took awhile because he Orc’s wounds would heal itself. We were able to kill it before it could heal itself.

The towns folk were grateful but apparently they were forced to pay tribute so that this kind of things doesn’t happen. We headed north to the forge when we spotted a metal similar to the ship at torch. We saw what seemed to be a camp of sorts. We discussed how we should approach and we sent Mal to see if they were hostile or not. As predicted they were hostile. Mal used darkness and told us they were coming. Long story short we were winning and the leader of the bandits saw the outcome and order his men to hold the line while he escaped. We quickly finished off the line and advance forward. We saw the door the leader went through and it happen to be a white key card. Luckily for us we had one but some robots came to stop us. Finally, it was a time my bullets (which Ive been wasting) to do some damage. My bullets were able to pierce through most of their armor. When we disassemble the robots we went for the door. As soon as Arim open the door he got shot by a laser. There seemed to be another human with the leader and 4 spiderbots. We quickly found out that the bots exploded if they take enough damage. It was a sticky battle but we won. Know that i have some regular bullets i plan on making some for the other revolver. We still havent found the forge but i think we will soon.

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Vidon Learns a Lesson.
We find more than we wished for.

We continued our journey after returning to Hakadose. While there Harkness went back to see Lady Altouna and the other. I can never remember his name. It is just too weird. I think Arim and Mal went with him. I had some shopping to do. I wanted to make sure when I hit something it felt it. I found a merchant that had a belt that would up my strength. I didn’t think we had time to let Mal create it so I just bought it outright.

Anyway Harkness found another person that knew the previous owner of his body. She asked to come along and he and the others said “Why not?” She has a very intricately decorated rapier. The blade is black and looks similar to my Dwarven Waraxe. The rest of her rapier is finely silvered with a complex, sweeping hilt and a pommel set with a dark indigo schorl. She claims to want to come along to be able to write our adventures into a ballad. I guess that makes her some kind of Bard. Maybe we will get a little fame.

The others had a talk with the Captain of our barge and decided to travel the next day down river to the next small town. There were no more attempts to extort toll from us. Now whether that was because news of what we did to their other outpost or they were just bidding their time is unknown at this time. But I suspect we have not seen the end of the Blood Gars. I definitely have a score to settle with them. They must learn you cannot enslave Dwarves with no thought of vengeance coming back your way.

As we neared the next stop on our journey there was what appeared to be smoke and as we got closer we could see flames. As we neared the entrance to their harbor there was a young girl standing on the breakwater dike waving us over to the shore. She said the townsfolk were being slaughtered and they needed help. Arim glanced at the Captain who then motioned toward the center of town and told us to go he would take care of tying the barge up. When we reached the center of town there was a very angry looking Female Orc with a very big dangerous looking club. It took a lot of effort on our part to put her down but we did. Not without some damage to ourselves though. She was one tough bitch. Some of our hits seemed to heal themselves without her doing anything. I don’t think I want to run into a bunch of those types. We talked to some of the townsfolk and heard of a band of bandits that had recently taken to demanding gold and food in order to “protect” the town. Also there were occasional visits from creatures similar to the one we just fought. Both sets seemed to be coming from the North. Strangely that also appears to be the direction of the Craft Forge that Obid had thought he had found.

So without further discussion we head off in a northerly direction. We find a place where there had been a hidden valley. I wonder how there salad dressing tastes? Anyway there was a place where the wall of the valley had collapsed and made a way down into the valley. We followed the landslide to see a metal structure similar to the ship at Torch. It was in the center of the forested valley floor. They talked of how to best approach the tenants of the structure. This group wants to talk too much, I had just as soon get on with the confrontation. I will have to say talking does have its advantages at times. But sometimes it is just clobbering time. Mal decided to try talking to the tenants to find out if they were hostile or a group of do-gooders. He used some heavy handed words that had the guards scratching theirs collective heads, until one decided to go get their leader. Once the leader arrived the conversation continued until the leader said he was going to hurt Mal. That’s when he dropped Darkness and escaped to safer quarters. Then the rest of us came out of hiding when Mal dropped the Darkness. Susie did something to me. All of a sudden I was 12 feet tall, and big as an Ogre. It turned out sort of a blessing in disguise though. Being that big I was easier to hit cause you just about couldn’t miss me. But when I hit I usually cleaved right through the target. A couple of times I had to pull the Waraxe out of the ground I swung it so hard. The Leader of these bandits saw which way the combat was going and as usual for less honorable leaders ordered his men to “Hold the Line” and he ran away. We dispatched the rest of the guard and entered the structure. There was a door as we had seen before. There was what the others call a “card-reader” next to the door. So before I could use the Waraxe on the door Arim said he could open it. About that time two robots with what appeared to be saws for one of their arms come up from behind. This is what I had been hoping for, a chance to kill more robots. Me and the Waraxe managed to remove a saw arm and some of their armor which made it easier for the others to take them down. I am liking not having to do all the damage myself. Working together is pretty good when it works. This is where we learned that Delora’s Rapier was made of the same material as my Waraxe. When the others hit the robots part of their damage was reduced but when the two of us hit the robots they took a terrible hit. We managed to take them down and turned our attention to the door that we think the Leader entered. Arim had thought he heard some talking behind the door with the White card-reader. He opened the door and got a blast of fire shot at him. He got inside and out of the way. When the way was clear I saw the Leader and another human standing behind 4 small robots. The robots were the ones that had blasted Arim with fire. I wanted to get to the humans fast so I charged right over two of the robots and took one out, but when I did it exploded and hurt everyone within about 10 feet of it. Which naturally included me. It was a terrific fight and I went down again. That is getting too often for my happiness. But me being behind the robots caused the others to be able to flank and get hits they may not have otherwise. It took a while to take all of them down but it was done and Harkness picked up some regular ammo and a couple of weird pistols that seemed to fire light beams. Arim and Susie are currently inventorying the equipment the humans had before we continue exploring this structure. Harkness thinks this may be the Craft Forge Task was talking about. We will see what the rest think after a bit. Will write again when I have something to say.

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