Entry 162, Day 65, Evening
Glad to be back in Torch.
Chesed was terrible, horrible, and smelled bad, even before the sewers. A horde of Halfling witches have left Arim paranoid to the point of schizophrenia, betrayals by Delora have resulted in the Technic League knowing FAR too much about me and my compatriots for basically no reason. Indeed, her entire motivation for everything but the theft of the golden lute is purely nonsensical, wanting to give DANGEROUS amounts of information about herself as well as her former teacher and her allies to an organization that openly seeks to capture and vivisect her in the hopes that they won’t notice what she is or use that information to find her later. All for what was apparently an attempt to gain sole control over the android forge everyone seems so excited over despite not actually getting a “where” out of us before sticking the knife in our backs. “A classic example of stupid evil” as my father would say. Though I suppose their bumbling is part of the reason we are still alive, so I shan’t complain too much.
Further, our efforts to uncover the third piece of the music box led us into a supernaturally foul and horrible sewer system populated by Kytons. It seems that their twisted little cult of torture has been working with the league, their adept knowledge of surgery and fleshwarping being useful to the League and it’s obsession with shoving metal things of dubious value into people’s bodies. Target number three on our list of “people trying to hide evil artifacts and not doing too well” was simply a victim of random violence, grabbed off the streets by the torture-devils as fodder for some blasphemous experiment in mass-producing more of their own kind.
I suppose I should take a moment to discuss the Chain-devils to the best of my knowledge. Kytons are outsiders, the creations and worshippers of Zon-Kuthon, a god of torture and twisted shadows. They are obsessed with pain, torture, and gross body mod horror. They make more of themselves by kidnapping or tempting mortals to their home plane, torturing them artisinally for long periods of time, and eventually the mortals cease to be mortal or even natives to the prime. This is relevant because a faction of their number is attempting to invent a means of mass-converting captured victims quickly, and without dragging them to another plane of existence.
The experiment we stumbled upon involved the mechanized torture of over a score of kidnapped citizens. They are severely traumatized and scarred, and none of my band of troublemakers is equipped to handle such things. Since the Church of Abadar is not actually allied with the League, we turned over the evidence that shows Technic League agents supporting and assisting fiends from the Shadow Plane in abducting, torturing, and killing citizens of the city. We also attempted to foist the problem of dozens of refugees upon the high priestess, which she haggled for. After some discussion we agreed that in exchange for her taking in our refugees we would take in her itinerant murderhobo and thus both productive citizens and wandering psychopaths would be returned to their natural habitat.
Bruce Langstrom is an interesting fellow, an alchemist by trade, and apparently deeply involved in this Kyton business. The details remain sketchy, both because his investigations are incomplete, and because he received severed head trauma during his last venture. There are several kyton factions at work, it seems, and he had dealings with the one that wants torture to remain an “art” instead of an industry. Of course since they were still evil outsiders, they still tried to kill/convert/whatever him and I ended up spending over a thousand gold getting the high priestess to fix his head.
After that we FINALLY left that stinking hole of a city and I hope never to return. Dear gods do I hate Chesed.
Back in Torch, Arim has begun working through his newly-developed issues by abandoning our merry band and throwing himself into his growing empire. He is “building up Torch’s defenses,” in his own words, “to combat the hobbit menace.” I am concerned, and attempting to counsel him, but hopefully his wife will be able to keep him from going “well-intentioned extremist” all over Numeria.
We will be spending a few weeks here, I have some things I need to craft, and some things I need to get started. This building of bases has caught my interest, and I am thinking I should like to build up a wayshrine to Father Apsu. It occurred to me that there is quite a divide between the people who trust no technology and the people who trust firmly in technology. Perhaps a place where those who prefer magic and fear or distrust machine-demons can find healing, safety, and peace in a garden of my making.
Addendum: The bounty was set, and Zaagmander will be hunted should she return to this plane.
Entry 163, Day 87, Morning
It has been a busy 3 weeks, but productive. With quite a bit of luck (and the assistance of the local power-broker) I found a new abbot for my Wayshrine. He is a fellow follower of The Exiled Wyrm, and decent with numbers. He helped me find and recruit several gifted individuals and we have begun laying the foundations for the temple. It is quite complicated, this business, but it feels nice to build something good that will (hopefully) have a lasting effect in the area. I have also spent some effort enchanting a few new items. My headband now provides me enhanced skill in the arts of stealth and I finally have a portable hole again. Heavy cargo is so much easier to carry when it is in between dimensions.
Today, I leave the last of my investment capital with Abbot Costello, who will continue to construct the infirmary and Wayshrine in Apsu’s name. I and my adventuring companions are heading off to the community known as Iadenveigh, where we hope to find long-dead trails of machine-spirits in Android bodies and clues to fighting the menace that calls herself Unity.
Also, Flynn asked Harkness to rip out his chest and shove some weird piece of technology inside of his ribcage. It was weird, but he seems healthier for it. Harkness is remaining behind, as well, to further work on his forge quest.
Entry 165, day 90, Late night
One of Susie’s shadows came for her. A beast known as a Barghest assaulted her (and very specifically her) in the night. It quickly disabled her and attempted to spirit her away with its fiendish powers, but my protective magics were able to stymie its plans and force it to engage us. Surprisingly it did not strike her with lethal force, and more strangely it did not simply dissipate when defeated. The beast was bound to our plane with strong magics before making its abduction attempt, and whoever did the binding is still out there and unknown.
We also fought some rock trolls the same night, and left quite a pile of corpses by the time it was all done.
Entry 166, Day 97, midday
Little else of interest has happened in our journey, but we have arrived at Iadenveigh. The shattered and publicly impaled gearsman on the main road made it clear this settlement allows no technology or machinery in their domain. Mr. Langstrom has wisely stowed his “Wazer Wifle" and will be relying on his skills with potions and otherwise “acceptable" skills.
The city is built upon a mound which leaks strange and toxic fluids to the south. The people seem twisted by both inbreeding and unnatural mutation. They clearly distrust outsiders, and will likely be difficult to get information from. Still, insular communities like this don’t tend to sell information to other outsiders, so we should be good on that front, at least. Perhaps we can find a way to ingratiate ourselves with the locals.
Entry 167, Day 97, evening.
We assisted one of the local leaders, Redfang (redfang, redtooth, there is an odd pattern developing here), in checking a local farmer. His complaints of “Monsters" were largely dismissed as he apparently constantly cries “wolf" but when we arrived we found his house destroyed and his orchard torn apart. We did not need to look very far before discovering the cause, a horrid Yao Guai, twisted both by its own nature and the mutating waters of the southern spring. We put paid to the beast, but scattered blood and body parts make it clear we were days too late for the man who lived here.
As reward for our services to the community they gave us a Hearth Mantle, a deerskin hood with attached antlers with enchantments of a rugged and primitive design. It is made by and for adherents of an old faith, Erastil, a hunter-gatherer god who dates back to the Age of Darkness.
After looking at the local maps and talking with the locals it seems that we are near the infamous “smoking tower”where a technomancer of ill repute makes his home. Given his knowledge of technology and the locals’ aversion to it, I have the nagging suspicion we will be dealing with this stranger, one way or another.