Iron Gods - Mike Korupp

Harkness Journal (Life 234) Entry 2.1
Day 2 The Medical Ward and The Technic League

After taking down the dead alien we rested for a bit to catch our breath. Everyone seem to be on edge. Even I was effected by this battle. I didn’t think I would be this damaged after battle. This event has brought up many flaws in my attack patterns but I also gain some experience in combat which is always good.

After the break, we gave Vidon the Dwarf, the cloak of resistance to better protect him . Though he can be rough sometimes he is a good man in most situation. He plays a vital role in our attack force and losing him would definitely make this adventure a lot harder. So, giving him the cloak was the logical decision without a doubt. I took one of the short swords as back up in case I lose the longsword. No one seemed to mind.

We continued on to look for Khonnir and his team. We later entered into what I believe to be the laboratory area of the ship. Vidon noticed a recent blood trail lining up with the time Khonnir left for his second expedition. We followed the trail and it appeared Khonnir and his group faced many robots in a bloody struggle. We continued to follow the trail and it lead us to a geological lab. The trail seemed to have vanish but this fungus like creature dissolved the trail for nourishment. It communicated using it’s mind. It said it was hungry and he asked if we had any food. I gave it some food and Mal feed it all of his and it was pleased. I told it to stay here and we would come back. It seems to not want to leave but we will deal with it later… for now I have given it the name of mushroom because it too is a fungus.

We went to the other door and there was the trail it lead to a room and inside there were two medical tables and one was covered in blood. From the distance there was a medical bot it seemed to be malfunctioning like always. I really wish we could a find working robot. The med bot came at us trying to use some kind of poison maybe alien medicine. Vidon and I really did some damage to the bot and, I finished it off with a clean shot to the head. It was leaking some the poison so I asked Arim for a empty flask and filled it with poison.

We found a set of bloody tracks leading to another set of doors. There were two beds and a pod. Of course there was another set of robots; another medical bot and a hovering repair bot. I shot first then Vidon came and launched a Hammer at the same bot I shot. The med bot knocked Vidon unconscious and we had to fight the other one off. We were able to get the med bot down and get Vidon up to deal with the repair bot. We were having a rough time with him unlike the med bot. It seemed that the repair bot had a harder armor. Vidon fell unconscious again. I had no choice but to use his axe because it dealt the most damage. With Vidon’s Axe I was able to finally to bring it down.

We picked Vidon up placed him on the medical bed so he could rest and the rest of us opened up the medical pod. Khonnir was inside and he seemed to be in a lot pain, he wasn’t able to use his legs and had lost some of his brain function. Arim was able to calm him down. I examined him and saw symptoms of an nanite over dose. Making a quick assessment it was clear that we had no energy left to continue so we left. Leaving I asked mushroom if he wanted to come. He did but was conflicted so I feed him another ration and told him to wait here and that we would be back.

Returning to the city we saw one of the young children run off yelling “They’re back they’re back!”. We went straight to the temple to help Khonnir and Vidon. Joram was relieved to see us with Khonnir. He asked what happen to Khonnir. I explained to him what Khonnir was suffering and I let him know that Vidon was just as hurt.

Afterwards, we were approach by Sanvil Trett. He told us that he was interested in buying technology and was trying to buy some. I asked him that if he was interested in anything particular. He said no but I could tell by his expression that he was hiding something. I expressed that if he wanted something there was no need to pussyfoot. Again he was trying to hide his intentions. I was beginning to suspect that he was not who he claimed to be. Mal was about to mention the truth about me being an android. I shook my head and Mal had changed the subject but he began to look at me as if he was curious to see if I was human or not. I left before I said anything that could set his radar off. I heard Mal yell something about poisons. The towns people threw a party in honor of Khonnirs’ return. I kept my eyes on Sanvil Trett nothing suspicious but I am 74% sure he is with or at least works with the Technic League. I have to be a 100% percent sure before acting. I told the other just in case.

Another shadowy figure in the distance tonight this time I told the other and we are making plans on when the time comes.

Also bought a surgeon’s kit and extra potions just in case.

Vidon's Fourth day in Torch
We go back underground.

Overnight Harkness sees someone watching the Foundry but he cannot catch up to them. Before we left we told Khonnir and Val and the Constable about people watching the Foundry at night. Warning them to be careful.

The next morning we return to the caves.
The skeletons from earlier were resurrected in the chamber from earlier. The zombie from the other room also was there. As the Skeletons were destroyed there was a gaseous or mist-like cloud that left from the fractured mas of bones. As the mist escaped the skeletons collapsed into dust. When the zombie was finally put down there was a smile on its face and it seemed to mouth the word “Thank you” as the mist left its corpse. I took a lot of damage. I hope the better armor I picked up in town works better than what I had.

We are going back to where we found Khonnir to finish checking out that area.

Vidon's 2nd Trip underground.
During a break in the action
We have decided to rest a little before we go try the door that leads to another corridor. I will try to make some sense of my thoughts about my fellow adventurers.

Malku is somewhat a mystery to me. I can tell he is hiding something. Sometimes he acts as a male would and sometimes as a female might. He is mighty handy to have around. He has healed me a few times after I have taken some hits. He is not from Torch so I cannot place his accent. I think I earned some points when he saw the Axe I got off the Slaver.

Arim is one of 3 Torch residents and a close friend of Khonnir. He seems to be able to convince people to go along with his ideas. He is pretty good with that Greataxe of his. I have not run across any other person with his complexion though. Strange.

Susie is one strange woman, and that pet Donkey Rat of hers. I have seen plenty of rats but that is my first Donkey Rat I believe. She surprised me when she said she could also speak to these robots. Her actions in the sandy chamber made a significant difference in our survival. All and all I cannot say it is a bad thing to have her along.

Now to Harkness. This is the one that confuses me the most. I have never seen anyone that is less emotional than him. If I didn’t know better I would swear he is part machine. The first few times he attempted to use that boom stick that he calls a gun he wasn’t very good with it. However, he is getting better. I don’t know what he requested to be created for him but I hope it works better than what he has now.

So as a group these folks are pretty decent for non-Dwarves. I have been thinking of how my seeing a mechanical creature causes me to go into a berserker type frenzy. I have fallen out of using the meditations that Donarivi taught me. I will take some time to begin renewing my meditations when we camp this evening. The others have spoken about my rage amongst themselves but I doubt they know I have heard them. One worry Malku has is if it comes to having to run away from a threat that is more than we can handle would I be able to run away. While it would irk me terribly it is better to run away and live to fight another day. Susie is worried about my watching Harkness so closely. Harkness has no concerns one way or the other. As I said he shows no emotion at all.

We will see what this new corridor has in store for us soon. I will write again when I have a chance.

Susie's Journal
Game Day 1

It was an eventful day. Continued exploring this underground cavern/spaceship system. We found more of these ancient technological marvels. They even had a bio-dome. It was the room that we were warned about, the one that had no stars in the sky, but we were able to turn on the stars! We also found the big baddie who appeared to be in charge of this section of the spaceship. Although I did not do any damage to the individual, several teammates congratulated me on my significant contributions to the fight.

Our stoic faced gunslinger finally learned how to hit the broad side of a barn. Hopefully he can continue to use the sights on his gun properly! Our raging barbarian didn’t start raging at the big baddie but he sure seemed to go nutso whenever he sees something of the least bit technological in nature. I wonder what would happen if I gave him a rubix cube for his birthday… I’m really disappointed in our ranger, he has his toilet plunger of victory and has yet to use it. What is the point of having such an item and not using it?

I think we will be back tracking a bit and heading to a different portion of this complex. I’ve been working on this cackle for a little bit now, hopefully I will get to use it in combat and see what it does. I haven’t used a journal in the past but hopefully I will be able to put something in here on a periodic basis.Susie

Journal of Shadow Mal part 2

Entry 130, the evening of Day 10.

Sareh has been murdered, and the killer is still stalking.

After the usual pomp and circumstance of delivering the dead and letting their people at least begin the grieving process, an oily human named Garmen Ulreth sidled up to us and loudly invited our little band to drink, gamble, and revel at his establishment, the Silverdisk Hall. He offered us 100 gold in house credit and played up his entertainments and buttered us up like a breakfast pastry.

I had heard rumors before, and I have since confirmed that he is a political gamesman. He uses the standard debt and leverage and gang of thugs (known as the Rope Fists) to scrabble and claw his way up the social ladder. Attempting to influence this dance of power, intrigue, and destruction would be like trying to treat an ingrown scale with a greataxe, so for the moment I intend to give him a wide berth to rise, fall, or both as fate wills. Of course, appearances must be kept up, and with the sun down I was in a much better mood, so I followed along with the local boys (and girl) to see what the hubbub was about.

Fatesapper had no interest in games, dancers, or sociable drinking, so he simply cashed in his credit and left the party immediately. I stayed a while to keep up appearances and to continue observations. This was of some success in two instances. I bought many drinks for many people, and assisted Arim’s attempts at gambling by buying his gambling opponents stronger than usual liquors. Their willingness to drink too much was our gain as Arim won the tournament and walked away with more money than he had brought in and one of the flexible cards that the technically-inclined trio always seem to be excited by.

Afterward, I spied Madame Dalrorn in attendance. As ever, warmth and sympathy are the hallmarks of her profession, and she was doing all that she could for our, excuse me, for Torch’s constable. Constable Pyle is a good man, but a simple one. His skills are in reasoning with the unreasonable by way of a friendly smile and an intimidating frame, neither of which are of much use to the town’s current troubles, and his feelings of impotence are weighing him down.

At Wrennie’s request I attempted to raise his spirits, but was almost immediately thrown off by the revelation that Ynsarehal, one of the 4 survivors of my ill-fated prison-break was brutally murdered on her way back from work. As Constable Pyle did his best to turn into a liquid and Wrennie continued to be evasive regarding her much-valued necklace my attention turned to criminal investigation. I am no inspector, but I will not be allowing my people, the people I brought here through fire and darkness, to be murdered beneath my very nose.

Black thoughts of hunts and bloody justice were temporarily interrupted by the bar fight. Some drunk patrons made some drunk, rather fruitless assaults, and with the party over I recruited my erstwhile companions for a murder investigation.

Our investigations were not entirely fruitless, but we did not get very far. Sareh was clutching an armband bearing the symbol of the Raiders we escaped, but Arim’s sharper investigative instincts showed it had been cut, not ripped from the cloth and was almost certainly planted on her body. The three remaining survivors had some impression they might have been watched, but did not have anything more than a gut feeling. An attempt to draw out the murderer using myself as bait was equally useless, as nothing happened.

Now I sleep, though no rest will quiet my concerns.

Entry 131: day 11, midday

This morning we awoke to more murders. Though none shall mourn their deaths, 3 of the 4 mercenaries that had attacked Madame Dalrorn were found dead of poison, and they did not go peacefully either. The survivor of this attempted murder was useless, a hardened criminal with no interest in helping authority figures, even if it might save his life. He intimated that Wrennie had a hand in his violent illness, and that she is not who she seems, but who really is in this town?

Well that is not fair, Vidon continues to be brutally honest in all things, part of his charm I suppose. I worry about his uncontrolled emotions though, if the time comes when there is a mechanical monstrosity that we would be better served fleeing, I do not know that he CAN. His soul burns against constructs so.

After more largely-fruitless investigations, we turned to the caverns. At least in the dark the threats, dangers, and challenges are straightfoward. Through the befouled waters we went, and after once again greeting the skulks we entered the metal dungeon. The local archaeologist of our little band says it used to be part of a much greater structure, possibly even a ship, capable of traveling beyond the stars despite being larger than a city. Inside were machines and devices that would drive a tinker to madness, substances I have never seen before, and another one of those repair drones.

After Harkness and the construct barked at each other in an alien language, it tried to pull him apart, and we proceeded to pull IT apart. Vidon was very uncomfortable with the entire affair, but somehow he managed to avoid killing Harkness despite the fellow setting off a lot of his triggers.

We found and searched more rooms and corridors, we what is apparently some kind of door-unlocking wand called an “E-pick” and 2 brightly glowing silverdiscs. Apparently this alien not-magic functions like a wand or a staff, with multiple charges, but the charges of energy can be contained in separate devices, which can be swapped in and out of multiple wands or not-magic tools. This is a brilliant innovation which would revolutionize many forms of magical tools if we could adapt modern magical theory and practice to such a format.

But that is all high-minded fancy, we still have a job to do. As we delved deeper we came upon some of the other inhabitants of this ship-turned-dungeon. The first was an aberration of grasping tentacles hiding in a pocked and honeycombed shell. It tried to hide and ambush us, but I decided to goad it into tipping its hand by conjuring some water on its head. It did not expect this, and the surprise lasted until Vidon cracked it open and killed it like the hard shellfish they used to prepare in the wild markets of Goka. Supposedly these creatures are from another world, though they seem like they would be right at home in the depths of the darklands. Not nearly as inspiring as my father’s dreams of enlightened beings from beyond the stars.

Ah well, reality always falls short of idealism, and the world is what we make of it.

Directly after we found the chamber that the fearful Sef had warned us of. A black sky (you would think a denizen of the darklands could recognize a cavern roof, or perhaps ceiling is a better term) and an empty desert pocked with more tentacled aberrations and four-armed alien skeletons. The skeletons animated, and we crushed them with minimal incident. The walls were covered with not-magic illusions meant to create the false impression of a surface-world desert. I suspected similar ones had once existed on the ceiling to create an artificial sky, and this suspicion was borne out later.

But first we had to find our way out of this illusory cage, and following the dim light of a half-opened door behind an illusory rock edifice we found more not-magic wonders.

A broken device called a “decontaminator” (or something like that) spewed lightning at regular intervals across the blockhouse between the fake-outside of the desert room and the shining, mysterious inside beyond it. We timed the strikes and passed through unharmed, and after more exploration we found another four-armed, this one with flesh.

It was still undead, of course, but its speed and the intelligence shining in its eyes suggest a far more hellish existence, trapped in this dungeon for countless thousands of years. It was fast and dangerous, but we put it down in the end. We found some loot, and Vidon now wears a cloak which fortifies the mind and body against some of the effects of magic and misfortune. The crushed skeletons are a concern, as Sef was adamant that they will rise again, and again, but so far they have done nothing.

I have been writing this while Harkness, Susie, and Arim jabber and tinker with the controls of the devices in this room. Earlier they turned the sky back on, and the illusory approximation of an alien sky was quite a sight. Looking at the remains of our zombified adversary, he appears to have been quite primitive. Combined with the patches of information I have eavesdropped from our technophilic companions I suspect these aliens were being studied in their little illusion-filled cage.

I hope we find a way to end their suffering, and not just because I do not want to have to keep fighting them.

Harkness journal (Life 243) Entry 2
Day 2 Heading back To the Cave

After, the shadowy figure everything else seemed normal. That morning the Constable showed up hungover. I asked if he was okay. He gave me a grunt and proceeded to tell me about the thugs we fought yesterday morning that all but one were dead by some poison. He knocked on the door and told the others the news. We tried to identify what poison it was to no avail. We were able to talk to the other thug. I told him that we were looking into his colleagues death and that I was also concern about his safety as well. He gave me a look and didn’t say anything useful. Why must people let their emotions hinder them? I was only trying to help him anyway, he said something about not trusting the Mistress.

We went back to the caves after, visiting the councilwoman. We saw a repair bot and Vidon went crazy! I tried to explain to him that I spoke their language but he didn’t believe me until Susie also said she could speak it too. I tried to reprogram it but as soon as i touched it it tried to repair me. Sadly we had to destroy it. Moving on we found this coral thing and it was moving. Mal poured water on it and black tentacles came out of it. I had no idea what it was but we killed before it could do damage. Afterwards, we found the place Sef was talking about the dessert with gray sky. We faced the same creatures described by Sef too. They were nothing but bone and had four arms. We were quickly surrounded and were push back to the wall but in the end we prevailed.

We headed towards a source of light coming from a wall. Mal shot a bolt at the wall and it turned out to be an illusion. We went through and discovered a electrical trap. We told Vidon what it was and he ran straight through. We pressed on and found the control room for outside. It appeared to be a hologram of the environment. There were controls to change the look outside and i went to pressed the controls to change the environment. We continued forward and the door up ahead was closed. Mal saw through the door and warned us about an alien up a head waiting for us. We busted though and fought the alien it was a tough battle but we killed it.

A continuation of the Third Day for Vidon
We continue exploring.

We went to open the door into another Corridor. We found another door that opened into what looked like a big conference room. I found a blood trail that looked fairly fresh, maybe 3 days ago. Which would correspond with Khonnirs last trip down. In a room at the end of the corridor was a small creature that appears to be a type of fungus. I stood ready to attack it while Mal and Harkness fed it. It agreed to let us continue on. There was no blood trail in this room but once we left the room we could see the blood trail again. When we opened the door where the blood trail led we saw a couple of tables that had many tools and lights attached. There was a robot inside. I didn’t rage but I did do some good damage. Harkness finished it off.

We saw faint trail of blood drops leading to another door. I let Harkness lead and he shot first, then I moved forward to throw a hammer at the med robot. There were two robots in this room. One med and one repair robot. The repair robot moved up and took me down unconscious. So everyone had to do without me. They did manage to get me up and I took out my frustrations on the remaining med robot. The med knocked me out again. I understand that Harkness used my Adamantine Axe to destroy the med robot.

I was put in a bed and slept for a while. I was very badly hurt so they waited while I recovered some of the damage from the robots. They found Khonnir but he was very agitated and his legs didn’t work. The decision was made to try leaving to get back to Torch. We get back to Torch and the town is very happy to see Khonnir back among the living. The Temple healed him and did some healing on me.

Before we went to Khonnir’s Foundry I went by Dolga’s Foundry. I wanted some armor that would protect me a little better. Those pinchers on those robots hurt.. I sold her my current armor and bought a suit of Agile Breastplate and a heavy Steel shield. That should help protect me from the robot attacks. The Agile Breastplate was crafted of Dwarven Steel and was engraved with the Holy symbols of Dwarven Gods, Trudd to be exact, and inset with yellow-green chrysoberyls and purple amethysts. Dolga said she had brought that with her from Five Kings Mountains. The heavy steel shield was finely crafted and engraved with the image of a brave Paladin beating back the forces of Hell. The gilt border of the shield is studded with red garnets and spinels. I asked what the value of the armor and shield were, and she said the shield was worth 2000 gp and the armor was worth 2000 gp also.

At the celebration that the town threw for Khonnir I spoke with Dolga again to see how the ex-slaves had been working out for her. She said they were doing good. I asked if there were any new strangers in town. She said there were quite a few that she suspected were here because of the failure of the torch. I believe her exact comment was “The wolves are at the gate”. Seems that getting the torch relit is a first priority.

A Sanvil Trett approached to ask if we found any technology that we would like to sell. Harkness and Susie tried to determine what his reasons are.. Harkness got very aggressive in his asking Sanvil questions.

Harkness journal (Life 243) Entry 1
Day 1 Returning to Torch

After returning from a extend hunting trip with Arim and Susie we discovered that Khonnir went missing. We went to the local bakery to discuss what we intend to do about Khonnir’s disappearance. When suddenly I heard a scream, it was the mistress of the Merrymaid and she was being attacked by some thugs. At the same time a horse attached to cart came rampaging straight at us. We were able to dodge the cart before the thing could do some damage. Afterwards, we took care of the thugs pretty easily thanks to some bystanders; a dwarf named Vidon and an elven male who looks very feminine name Malku.

Malku was able to get the mistress back to her feet, while I was talking to Vidon his neck grew red which fascinated me I have never seen anything like it before. I ask if he was okay he explained that clock work and robots agitate him into a berserk like rage while passing the mistress’ necklace. With this information I decided not to tell him I was an android for the time being for his sake as well as my own. I inspected the necklace and it seemed like some clockwork device for what I do not know. I gave the mistress her necklace and she seemed a bit nervous I asked if she was alright and, she replied with a quick yes changing the subject by rewarding us with a discount at the Merrymaid. I think she was hiding something but I decided not to press any further.

With our new companions we went to the councilmen office to discuss about Khonnir. When we arrived Lady Freddert was the only one there at the time. She seemed relieved when Arim, Susie, and I showed up. She explained that the torch had went out and Khonnir went to the Weeping Pond to find anything that could bring the torch back to life. She explained that the local cleric was casting water breathing spell on anyone willing to go looking for Khonnir.

We left to our home to gather supplies and inform Khonnir’s daughter that we were going out to look for her father. The dwarf left to the Merrymaid to seek a woman’s touch. When we arrived home we heard a scream we busted inside and saw Khonnir’s daughter, Val, run at us yelling that the robot was alive and attacking her. From what I saw the repair robot was malfunctioning and I tried to talk to it but got no response. The others were quick to destroy it, but I tried to explain not to damage the robot beyond repair. I shot at it but missed, our new companion Malku was able to bring it down with a hit to the head and destroyed it. Such a shame really that repair bot could have been useful to the town. After the fighting was done Vidon was at the scene and saw that I gave a gesture to the robot and looked at me with suspicious eyes. Khonnir’s daughter explained that the robot just turned on, I find that impossible without a power source maybe there was a remote power source nearby that was linked to the bot. At the time we dismissed it and went to visit the cleric then to the pond. On the way to the pond I pondered on what could have started the repair bot. Maybe the necklace of the mistress could have started it, she could have been in the vicinity. I will go around later to the Merrymaid tonight to question her when everyone is a sleep since I can’t.

We went to the underwater cave and encountered fire beetles I fired at both of them and missed I was beginning to think that maybe my sights were off. Anyway the group was able to handle them with ease. We saw the Half Orc woman that was hanging around the local thugs. She was covered with knife wounds it was shame really she had potential to become a great guard. We pressed on to find a frog like creature I shot at him missing again thankfully Vidon was able to finish it off. Vidon heard a clatter from ahead to the South and told us to be quiet. Susie decided to send her familiar to see what was making the noise. It came back saying there was a body ahead against a wall and it was cold in the area. Arim had a rope tied around his waist and Vidon held the other end while he went down to claim the body. When he brought up the body we discovered that it was Amelia’s fiancee that had been with Khonnir. I suggest the logical solution of leaving the body there so that it would not infect them and the town. I was overruled, I don’t understand why they let their emotions cloud their judgment. I mean my suggestion was the most logical since they could have contracted this disease. After we moved his body we went down the tunnel and were met by a gray skinned woman warrior. She asked that a couple of us come meet with her leader. Arim and Malku went they told us that they had encountered a group led by a woman with purple hair that had strange marking and little to no emotion. It sounds like another android has been living down here. I hope so, it would be good to see another android. I haven’t seen one since our hunting trip. Anyway, they have been hassled by a group of Gremlins and they asked if we would take care of the Gremlins. We found one Gremlin and killed it then, when we discovered the doors that the Purple haired woman and her group went through we found the Gremlins leader. Vidon had split him from top to bottom it was quite gruesome. The .other Gremlins saw that and fled. The others group of people who were very happy rewarded us with some treasure. Afterwards, we went back to Torch where Lady Freddert and the cleric were happy to see us. They called for Amelia and we explained what happened she seemed sad and happy at the same time it was quite bizarre. There so many emotions that I can’t seem to understand. When we find Khonnir I am going to have to ask him to explain more about these complex emotions. Her father told us that he would craft any weapon we chose for free. I plan on asking him to make a revolver or a rifle because my musket seemed a bit off today.

Afterwards, we were confronted by a name who worked for Garmen. He said that Garmen wanted to “reward” the hero’s of Torch at The Silver Disk Hall, after the man left Vidon asked what we knew of Garmen. We told him that he was a powerful individual and a lot of people owe him money. We went to the Hall, I planned on leaving but there was card game going on and i decided to test my luck with Arim. However, Arim came up on top in the end. By this time I noticed Vidon was gone. We spoke with Garmen and he was most pleasant despite his reputation. I saw that Mal was taking to Constable Kreed and Mistress Wrennie, Mal had this compelling look on his face. As we were walking towards them the other players were angry about their lost. I guess they got a little bit of that liquid courage. The Constable seemed a little drunk, as he tried to calm the other patrons they close-lined him knocking him unconscious. One of the attacks came at me, he was quite drunk. I though that there was no need to harm him so i took a side step and tripped him. He stood up again and I explain to him he was quite drunk and asked if he really wanted to do this. He agreed and walked out. The others handled their own drunks with ease and the other patrons and even Garmen gave use a salute as we left.

We left to go the foundry and we saw Vidon, that’s when Mal explained that one of the slaves he had saved was killed and he wanted to make sure the others were safe. They were safe and we brought them home to our foundry. Susie and I stayed behind while the rest set off to set a trap. They came back unsuccessful, I told them I would take watch. Around three in the morning I saw a figure in the distance as I went to investigate the figure was gone. I should tell Mal when the time comes.

Torch Gazetteer

1. Iven’s Livery Stable: Most travelers visiting town leave their mounts and pack animals in the care of Iven Lesky, a retired tracker who chose to settle in Torch after falling in love with a young Kellid woman named Annika whom he met when her tribe was overwhelmed by hill giants. Together, they buy and sell horses, doing frequent business with trade caravans drawn to the town’s marketplace.

2. General Store: Torch’s general store caters to scavengers, artisans, and metalworkers first and foremost, but also carries plenty of gear sought by adventurers traveling through Numeria. The town’s unique forge attracts plenty of traders to the local marketplace, some of whom bring rare items which storeowners like Inkrit Kollisun uses to stock their shelves.

3. Silverdisk Hall: This busy gambling house features many card tables and dice games, all played with the local silverdisk currency in exchange for whatever money travelers bring with them.

4. The Marrymaid: Given the frequent influxes of fortune-seeking scavengers and merchant caravans, the Marrymaid bordello opened its doors almost as soon as Torch established a successful economy. Wrennie Dalrorn oversees the entertainments inside.

5. The Copper Coin: One of the oldest taverns in Torch, the Copper Coin stands right on the western edge of town. This fixture nightspot fills up with patrons almost every evening, and it is especially popular with laborers and artisans looking to relax after a hard day’s work. Siblings Lawton and Katina Rimos run the Coin as a quality establishment with good food at reasonable prices. In fact, much like their father, who ran the tavern for 30 years before passing away, they pride themselves on claiming everything costs “just a few coppers.” Lawton runs the kitchen, cooking up signature dishes like spiced lamb and lentil soup with sourdough bread. Katina tends bar, serving up popular drinks like Rusty Ale, Wineberry Mead, Steelforged Stout, and Black Hill Whiskey.

6. Garrison and Armory: A crenelated 30-foot tower rises from this squat barracks housing the town’s active militia and guards. Approximately two dozen off-duty guards can be found here, with three times that number patrolling the marketplace and city streets during the day.

7. Olandir Estate: Serantha Olandir, the charismatic, inf luential leader of Torch’s town council, lives in this large home. She lost her husband 2 years ago to a back alley mugging by the Ropefists near Silverdisk Hall. Since then, she’s made it her mission to ensure Torch doesn’t become a den of crime and corruption by taking a more direct hand in shaping its politics.

8. Otterbie Manor: One of the original founding families of Torch owns this expensive manor, built by an enterprising merchant and ex-crusader from Mendev named Orm Otterbie. He passed away several years ago and his granddaughter, Bazlundi Otterbie, inherited his legacy, successfully organizing many of the town’s artisans and smithies into a powerhouse consortium. By controlling access to their services and coordinating a communal profit-sharing scheme between them, the Otterbies have become one of the more successful families in town.

9. Weeping Pond: This placid-looking pond is set off from the surrounding area by a crescent-shaped escarpment. No vegetation grows on the banks of this pond, and the waters carry a bitter stink of sulfur and other chemicals, enough to make the eyes water after spending too much time on the shore. The pond is fed by an underwater spring from under Black Hill, but no fish live in these waters, for the pond is tainted by runoff from whatever is buried under Black Hill. Until recently, the foulness of the water has prevented anyone from discovering that the underwater spring leads into a series of caves under Black Hill. A shallow stream runs southeast of the pond and finally empties into Crowfeather Lake.

10. Crowfeather Palace: The contaminated waters running from the Weeping Pond collect in Crowfeather Lake. Here the taint diffuses to the point where the water becomes drinkable, though it retains a brackish aftertaste. Until recently, long exposure to the water could still cause birth defects and strange afflictions, but since the creation of the strange-looking building here, these effects have been all but eradicated. Called Crowfeather Palace because of its proximity to the lake and its almost miniaturized palatial facade, the building is the brainchild of Khonnir Baine. With the aid of the local priesthood of Brigh, Khonnir built this facility to help purify the waters of Crowfeather Lake. Utilizing a combination of divine and arcane magic with scavenged technological elements, a pipe-like extension from the building constantly purifies the waters around itself, giving the townsfolk a safe source of drinking water.

11. Market Square: The southern shore of Crowfeather Lake is the location of Torch’s largest marketplace. This location draws nearly as much attention and tourism as does the f lame, for it’s here that the town’s skilled artisans put their wares on display.

12. Foundry Tavern: One of the more popular hangouts in Torch, the Foundry Tavern is aptly named. Its owner, Khonnir Baine, makes frequent appearances to demonstrate new inventions here—whether mechanical or magical. The tavern itself is always packed, and Khonnir rents out space in his neighboring foundry for visiting smiths and metalworkers to use.

13. Tempting Tonics: This building is home to Jhestine Imierin, the town’s apothecary and healer. Jhestine’s father was a Snowcaster elf and her mother a Kellid chieftain’s daughter. She moved south during a particularly harsh winter and opened her apothecary shop to help the people of Torch deal with the tainted water from the Weeping Pond. Jhestine sells a variety of herbs and special substances, and now that Crowfeather Palace has made the waters of the lake drinkable, she’s been able to turn her attention away from her original purpose to crafting all manner of other potions and elixirs for sale. Among numerous other concoctions, she currently offers a wide range of poisons, antitoxin, healing potions, and even a few technological pharmaceuticals.

14. Seven Tears Farms: Fertile fields and orchards line the stream near the southern side of town here. Before Crowfeather Palace, these farms had to rely upon the generosity of local churches for water purification, but now the fields are flourishing. The produce grown here feeds most of Torch, thanks to the owner of the farms, a matronly woman named Celda Veed.

15. Town Hall: One of the grander buildings in Torch, the town hall doubles as a second garrison and lookout tower watching over the eastern roads. Council meetings take place in the hall every week on Oathday, but the hall sees frequent use for social gatherings as well, including many dances held in the neighboring square.

16. Chapel of the Wanderer: A somber man named Mylan Radli retired here after the town’s previous gravekeeper passed away. Along with the blessings he administers to those passing through Torch, he also conducts funerals and looks after the town’s cemetery.

17. Temple of Brigh: Bronze wind chimes and clockwork statues decorate the domed portico of this compound dedicated to the goddess of invention. The oldest faith in Torch, Brigh’s temple sees regular worship from many of the town’s citizens, and also includes a meticulously organized workshop managed by the town’s religious leader, Joram Kyte. His friendly demeanor, active interest in the metal trade, and innovative crafting skills helped land him a seat on the town council many years ago. Joram’s temple includes a small shopfront selling magic items and gear.

18. Evercandle Inn: The name of this establishment refers to the strange alchemical candles used to light its rooms. These showpieces, which never diminish, are arrayed among multiple chandeliers in the common room as well as smaller, portable candlesticks by each bed in the individual chambers. Soceal Murgrave serves as the inn’s proprietor, aided by her ever-present attendant Erlmon Reverstoudt.

19. Boarding House: The nine buildings surrounding this small park provide temporary housing for larger parties not wishing to stay at the more expensive inns in town. They see frequent use during the warmer seasons when their owner, Agren Maust rents out rooms to scavengers, adventurers, and merchants seeking to do business in Torch for weeks at a time.

20. Warehouse District: The majority of the buildings in the northeast portion of town act as storehouses for trade goods designed by the town’s artisans.

21. Torch Guildhouse: This large building is home to the guild of metallurgists and artisans established by Bazlundi Otterbie. The guild was founded to support craftspeople in the skymetal trade, and the experts under its banner include several skilled armorers, blacksmiths, and weaponsmiths. The group always keeps a few weapons for sale in their shop.

22. Dolga’s Foundry: The sounds of ringing hammers and dwarven songs frequently rise from this busy foundry, which is owned and operated by Dolga Feddert and her team of veteran crafters. An odd transplant from the Five Kings Mountains, Dolga helped found Torch and became the first to test the unique properties of the flame erupting from the hilltop. She also constructed many of the first buildings in town, and is Torch’s oldest councilor.

23. Junkyard: Unprofitable components and debris smelted for skymetal invariably find their way to Torch’s junkyard on the east side of town. An eerie bleachling gnome named Garritt Burrwaddle received the honorary title of Junkmaster after several decades of obsessively collecting and cataloging the items left here. Aside from hauling away junk no one wants, he provides an invaluable service to those searching for spare parts among the debris in his care.

24. Black Hill: Easily the most recognizable landmark in Torch, this bald escarpment rises at a steep slope in the middle of town. Until recently, the town’s namesake torch burned at the hill’s peak, emerging from a 5-foot-wide hole in the ground. Today, the flame is out, the hole caved in and filled with bubbling, foul-smelling sludge. The four specially-designed adamantine carts used to ferry ore to and from the fire now stand a short distance down the hill near the Black Hill Craneworks—a building run by Smeltrunner Oskah Unteret. She coordinates access to the flame and ensures merchants pay the appropriate tribute to the town’s treasury. She bears no love for the Technic League, but holds the Black Sovereign in high regard, and loudly shares tales of his uniting of Numeria’s tribes in every tavern she visits.

Journal of Shadow Mal, part 1

Journal Entry…124?
My old journal, along with most of my possessions, are now in the hands of some unscrupulous thief, or the merchants and black marketeers he fenced his stolen goods to. Most of the events it chronicled are inconsequential, my first travels away from my Father’s protective shadow and experiences in these northern lands of war and savagery. My feelings towards these environs are mixed, as a well-traveled scholar my father had more than a passing interest in the skymetal artifacts and alien things in Numeria. He also had no interest in dealing with or exposing our family to the knotted mess of paranoid ignorant barbarians and paranoid miserly mages who live in the debris-littered steppes and plains.

I am getting ahead of myself. I began in Brevoy, I had intended to travel as a merchant, profit less important than experience, along the established trade routes and known paths, seeing new things and new people. Many may be crude and ignorant, but the people of these lands have as much potential for goodness and greatness as any, and there is always something out there to surprise you.

Speaking of surprises, it seems I was operating on outdated information. Roads and towns that were safe when last we left this continent are quite dangerous now. This should not surprise me; it was 40 years and time moves fast among the quick-blooded, but here we are. The trade caravan I was with (and the village it was resupplying at) was hit fast and hard by a force of raiders from Numeria. They were not men of the Technic League, but they were tied to it all the same. Their leader, an impressively large gnoll with a metal arm and a (doubtless stolen) Dwarven Waraxe of Adamantine led a charge that captured or killed most of us. I was beaten, stripped of my possessions, and thrown in a cage with the remaining few lucky survivors.

With few exceptions, everything that was not burned was stolen. Our goods were boxed and sent away to some town, I believe it was Chesed, where the black and gray markets mingle. We were taken towards Starfall for rape, torture, sale, and eventual death at the hands of the horrible monsters that run this country. I did not care for this outcome, so I began working on an alternative.

After carving a symbol to Father Apsu and quietly, secretly healing and preparing my fellow captives, I magically suggested our night watchman take a brief nap when the rest of the slavers were at rest, dinner, and recreation. From there it was a simple matter to lift his keys, slip out of the cage, and slit his throat with his own dagger.

Of course, even when fortified with the blessings of the divine, sneaking is not a natural skill, especially to the folk I was imprisoned with. While opening other cages, we were spotted by one of the more-sober slavers, an alarm was raised, and though our guard was kind enough to leave an enchanted weapon to me in the will he did not write, none of us were particularly skilled with mace and shield.

We fought and ran, I used magical darkness and fire to create distractions as best I could. Surprise may have been on our side, but little else was, and for every raider killed in our flight, they killed at least another two of us.

I am not proud of or pleased with that, but as Zex always says, “change what you can, abide what you cannot.”

The 5 of us that escaped with our lives and freedom followed the river. Though it took several days we eventually came to the settlement of Torch, easily recognizable by the great pillar of purple flame that shoots endlessly into the sky. We entered town ragged, but bearing enough stolen magic to get us back on our feet.

My hand is still shaking a bit, I think I am still a bit shaken up by this experience, and the fact I might be relatively safe again.

Entry 125:
A new day, and new successes. The local expert of all things magical is a mage of some skill named Khonnir. He helped me find a buyer for the mace and shield, and while it involved quite a bit of wheeling and dealing, my 4 fellow survivors have a place to stay and seem to be stable. I do not know what the future holds for them, they lost everything, but they are alive, and Councilwoman…Dolga? seems to have some experience in taking care of lost lambs. Hopefully they will survive this experience, but I lack the skill (or temperament) to influence such things. At the very least, some donations and fund establishments will keep them looked after for the immediate future.

Khonnir and I hit it off quite well. He is, in many ways, like my father. He even has my father’s not-particularly-secret interest in worlds beyond. Zex often spoke of other life among the stars, and while he tried to keep it a secret I believe this interest came from personal experience. He would not say it, but I am quite certain he wanted to come to Numeria and investigate the ruins from beyond. I simply presented too much of a responsibility to go endangering our little family in such places.

Khonnir has told me more about the magical ruins that dot the lands. He tells me, (and my own senses see it to be true) that a great deal of the “magic” from beyond is not magic at all. With very little prodding he showed me the town’s water purification system, which has almost no magic at all within it yet clearly functions as well or better than my own magics.

It is actually quite fascinating, my father was always convinced it was just a trick, but I do not see any way it could be. These tools and powers are not magic, they do not tap into the supernatural forces of the world, (correction, the universe) any more than my new crossbow. Speaking of which, the smith and his carpenter friend to good work, this bow was nothing but an idea and raw materials this morning, now it hits apples at a hundred paces. Simple design, but solid.

But as interesting as all this is. I should not stay. I have determined a safe (safer) path out of Numeria, and getting beaten, robbed, and almost killed several times, proves I am not ready. Indeed, with my father’s gifts all stolen I am even weaker than I was when I was first captured. “Know when to hold them, and know when to fold them,” the saying goes. I will purchase supplies for my journey and be off. Some lovely distilled cider is cheap here, perhaps I can restart my merchanting forays with a keg of it.

Entry 126:
Perhaps not. For the past few days I have been shopping and preparing for a journey, but strange things have been afoot in the town. First the titular Torch of this fair city went out. I had heard it fluctuated, so I paid no mind until I realized everyone seemed severely upset by it. After asking about I learned that while the torch might flare, it never just went out like a snuffed candle. My magic-wielder’s pride says this proves that this “technology” is unreliable, but as Khonnir pointed out, it is hardly fair to blame a tool for breaking if you never understood how it worked.

He said this to me shortly before leading an expedition into the caverns beneath the town. I probably should have joined him…no, I have too many reasons to avoid such entanglements.

Besides, these are good people, I am sure they know what they are doing. Khonnir already returned once with some kind of broken science-construct, his eyes practically glittered with excitement over the new things he could study and experiment on. Khonnir has gone back down to keep looking for the source of the Torch, (and though he will never say it, a chance at finding more toys to play with.) I intend to leave as soon as he gets back, I should say goodbye to such a nice and helpful person.

Entry 127:
Khonnir has not returned, everyone is worried, and as more people go down and no people come up things look more and more troubled. I do not know much about Numerian Politics but I know politics in general. The city’s main source of power is broken, and without it they grow weak and their enemies grow bolder.

Life on other worlds, I wonder if it is better than this. If civilizations and societies of the stars have grown to love life, and seek higher goals than a world or predators and parasites. I wonder if the answer to that question lies at the bottom of those caves…

No. I need to leave, I could not even do anything down there, not alone. And I do not know anyone in town able enough of mind and body to join me. It is foolish. Tomorrow I am seeing if Jondas has any more of that lovely green tea, loading up Hughie (that is my new horse) and heading out.

Entry 128:
Father often says, “no matter what you want, sometimes fate don’t give a flip.”

I was shopping at the market square when a ruckus started. I was kind of distracted, it being light out, but the sun was less of a concern than the assault and…robbery? Rape? Of Madame…I wish I was better with names. The local Madame of the Merry Maid. While I do not know (or particularly like) her business, such an assault on someone who is undeniably a pillar of the community is very strange.

That aside, with some sort of loud distraction behind me, I called upon the strengths of my adopted scaly kin and began to stare down the attackers as best I could in the blinding light.

My efforts were aided, (or vice versa) by the involvement of a skilled Dwarven Warrior. His name, I came to find, is Vidon Fatesapper, and whatever other observations I might have made were eclipsed by my surprise at seeing a very familiar axe. But I am once again getting ahead of myself.

Three local bravos also dove into the fray, they are almost as odd a bunch as I am. A fellow child of Sovyrian, a humanish person I suspect is plane-touched or even (dare I say it?) related to the alien wreckages of this land, and finally a clearly shadow-touched man of cocksure demeanor. They worked well together, and apparently do so on a regular basis. The elf, tattooed mystery, and shadow-charmer are named Susie, Harkness, and Arim Shadowbleeder. The most interesting to me at the time, however, was Vidon. His axe was remarkably similar to the one I saw cutting down innocent victims in the hands of the metal-armed gnoll. I was pleased to learn it WAS the same axe, and my new best friend had ripped the beast’s head off before taking it in hand and letting the rest of the band run in terror. I take some solace in the knowledge that though we lost much, the enemy was undone.

We made short work of the bandits, helped the lady, managed to not get arrested for fighting in the streets, and got little information except that this was a contracted job, probably a robbery, involving hired agents from the local scumbag hive.

I was going through the motions, helping out, turning down an offer of carnal rewards. Then Dolga turned on the charm.

Try as I might, the hardened but puppy-dog eyes of a woman trying to hold her city together as pieces of it fell off beat me, and I offered to join the latest merry band of mildly suicidal fools exploring the depths.

We went to look at the construct that Khonnir had found dead, it was alive again. It stumbled around, attacked in a most ineffective manner, and I batted its head off with my staff. To be honest, I felt more disappointment than elation, now the thing was even more broken, and I cannot claim brave heroics against such a pathetically broken enemy. Vidon was similarly disappointed; he really, really hates machines. I think he was somewhat placated with the knowledge the machine was so easily broken.

Now we go into the water, since the caverns are only accessible through a tainted spring, and into the darkness.

Entry 129:
I should start keeping track of the days in this thing. Too used to magical convenience. Day 10 of my misadventures in Numeria, Evening.

We found…things. There were the usual bugs that infest most surface caverns, 3 corpses of some of the previous expeditions. Other things of little note. The Russet Mold was interesting. I should have brought some of my apple brandy to kill it, but since our tattooed mystery humanoid claims to be as resistant to disease as our shadowbleeder was resistant to cold, we were able to manage.

We met, and killed, some sort of frog-like monster. I believe it was a fey, though that is not really my area of expertise. Later, as part of a deal, we killed/drove off a Wrench of Gremlins, which were teleporting around and causing all kinds of troubles.

But the deal was the part I have the most mixed feelings with. We met a clan of Skulks. Their race seems forever doomed to be preyed upon and enslaved by the deep elves of the Darklands, and indeed this little tribe had fled such depredations. I empathized with their desire to survive.

But victims can still be villains, and these skulks are also murdering little shits. They took a deal from some purple-haired tattooed woman (similar to our musket-toting fellow traveler, in fact) that hired them to kill anyone who came behind her. They have since ended this contract, having lost too many to maintain it and not particularly caring for the exchange rate of lost tribemates to gained treasure, but they are still murderers. They showed us the giant starmetal wall, and the strange metal doors cut into it. They gave us the treasures and told us what little they new, and we left them.

I have misgivings, but frankly we have higher priorities than meting out justice and judgement on a band of mooks. We drove away the gremlins that had been troubling them and warned them that the folk of the city would be coming, or someone even worse, and soon.

We retrieved the corpses that were intact enough to deliver, and that had people who would recognize and mourn them, and returned to the surface.

We have also been offered some rewards, we found some treasure, we were promised superior-quality weapons. I supposed my crossbow could be upgraded a bit, but I think I will wait until our more dedicated warriors get better tools first.

Tomorrow we return to the caverns, and continue to search for Khonnir and the source of the Torch.


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