Iron Gods - Mike Korupp

Journal of Shadow Mal 18

Entry 171, Day 99, Lunch

We decided to check down one last hallway, and were immediately greeted by a trap which dropped two Hungry Flesh oozes on our heads. The battle was fierce, but with perseverance and quite a bit of fire we burned them out. The stench and the infectious nature of the beasts convinced my fellows that it was time to fall back and regroup.

Night passed uneventfully, and with the morning Susie and me were able to remove the cancerous infections of our fellows. Armed with the knowledge that an invisible stalker might be prowling these depths, I prepared a spell of dismissal along with my usual loadout, but more on that later.

Returning to the hall of charred liquid flesh, we were set upon by robots. These constructs were not particularly bright, and demanded that we give them Casandalee, the dead woman with a machine-spirit mind who we were looking. I stalled them for a time, attempting to get information as to whom they served while rummaging through my pack to “get her, you know, out of this bag.” Confused and illogical statements and demands were most of their side of the conversation, but they did drop one hint that they were hunting her for Unity. Servants of the Black are all-around dangerous, so I threw a coin at them claiming it was Casandalee (they seemed rather dumb) and combat began.

The leader of the pack was a chromed-out oddity with enhanced reactions and abilities, but the rest were fairly easy to dispatch. Bruce was forced to rely on my “primitive” crossbow, his mighty laser rifle not being equipped for punching through shiny steel. Ironically, I believe this marks the moment where my companions have used that crossbow more than I have. I cannot complain, Zex said it was for my protection, a purpose it is certainly serving.

After dispatching the constructs, we found a room full of technological junk which Susie believes has value, and we were introduced to Bob. Presumably his real name is some barely-pronounceable whisperings in Auran, but I will call him Bob because I neglected to get his real name. Sorry Bob. His last orders were to “wait here,” and 50 years of being bored left him eager to cut a deal with anyone who could help him break free of the spell trapping him here and send him home. Perhaps with a Dismissal spell.

He told us all that he knew, Xoud came here 50 years ago with a magically-bound Bob as his bodyguard. I am told he used a very surprisingly-small number of silverdisks to reanimate the mechanica and “turn on the lights” here. Then he slipped past any dangers, robots, or traps with a gaseous form spell and Bob in tow. Minutes later he found a female android’s body (presumably Casandalee), ordered Bob to “wait here” and teleported away.

After exhausting useful conversational options, I used my magic to send him away. I hope it was enough to get him home, but he was willing to accept the risks of “cheap berth” travel. It’s only a 20% chance of going somewhere besides home…

In any event, the only place left unexplored was a door marked with the symbol for poisons and hazards. As much as I would prefer to take those warning at face value and leave, we promised to try and discover the source of the Bad Water, and in so doing remove the Technic League’s interest in this area.

When we opened the door a cloud of mutagenic gas washed out over us and began to fill the compound. Most of us managed to avoid getting a lungful of the stuff, but Flynn was not so lucky. The room had been filled with the same substance that was slowly tainting the southern springs, and now it would be tainting a LOT more. For a moment I had a sinking fear that we had just doomed this entire village. Some conferring and planning renewed my hope, however, as we did the math and determined we could neutralize the poisonous gas if we could cast enough Neutralize poison spells. Better still, with the help of the high priest of Erastil and the trash speakers we will be able to do it in a mere two days.

Entry 172, Day 101, Morning

The past 2 days have been uneventful. The priest and I would dose up with poison-protection spells and dive into the miasma, neutralize some of the sources of poison, climb back out of the hole, remove any dormant poison in our own systems, and seal off the entrance again. Then we would rest and meditate, preparing for next day’s run. Flynn has not shown further malady from his unlucky dosing, but I fear only time will tell for certain. The poison is now neutralized, and in time the waters will run clear, which has pleased the Deadeye council greatly, and they are happy to overlook how we almost poisoned their town.

We now prepare to march northwest, to the Choking Tower. Natural lifespans suggest Xoud should be dead of old age, but you never know with mages. I am meditating on the best plans for dealing with a wizard who obsessed with air, smoke, and the properties of gases. Bob told us what he could of the man, but mercenaries rarely spend time getting to know their employer.

Entry 173, day 103, Morning

Stopped by the first line of defense. Xoud’s giant compensationGreat Tower is made of Glossite, and the only feasible entry is the enormous front door, which has had it’s unlocking mechanism ripped out, presumably by the giants who seem to be living in the area. Without the missing pieces, we have no hope of opening the door, the windows are too narrow for me to slip through, and chopping through the door, even with adamantine, would take days of effort and constantly repairing the tools used with magic. On the subject of the tower, it is an impressive sight. Some arcane or technological furnace is designed to spew smoke, I suspect merely for ridiculous decoration.

We are preparing to track the giants, though “tracking” is hardly a feat when a herd of giants is involved.

Entry 174, Day 103, noon

You might think that disguising myself as a Hill Giant would be foolish. After all, I am still elf-sized and cannot speak Giantish, but my reply is this: they are hill giants, and these logical arguments are far too smart for a hill giant.

We spoke to a pair of hill giants who seemed to be guarding their encampment. They said they had the piece of the door in question, and a weapon of construct bane, but that they would only give it to us after we killed a scary robot for them. I tried to argue that giving us this weapon would help us kill the robot, but again, hill giants and logic don’t mix very well. Reasoning that the robot was a hazard, we chose to take the job, and perhaps gain the temporary allegiance of the giants against Xoud. The giants themselves refused to come, having already lost several of their number to the rogue construct.

The robot was tough, and its sound weapon induced a powerful sense of vertigo and sickness on several of us during the battle. Mr. Langstrom once again used by crossbow, and sadly one of the bolts was lost somewhere in the guts of the machine, unable to be retrieved and repaired, but such is life. The fascinating thing about the machine was its accuracy. I have meddled with a few constructs in my time, but they are always clumsy, flailing things in combat, making up for lack of skill with size and raw power. This machine stitched us up with unerring shots of sonic energy and hit with the skill of a trained soldier.

After we beat it into submission the two Hill Giants revealed themselves. I hailed them in a friendly manner and they charged us. I pondered, for a moment, the stupidity of attacking a group that had just killed the thing that killed several of your own (in fact, possibly their entire clan) but then I remembered; Hill giants and logic.

We dispatched them quickly and found they were carrying the piece of the door, a pile of Noqual alloy, and a map and a plan of some interest. Noqual is a form of starmetal that hates magic. Were I to wear armor made of it I would suffer the same chance of spell failure that arcane casters face, yet it is light as mithral and hard as adamantine. Useful for a warrior who does not practice magic. The plan was, “kill robot, gets weapons from robot, test weapons on butterfly.” The “butterfly” on the map may refer to an enclave of fey. Before these were the “choking woods” I believe they were called the Fae Woods. At the very least, it is something to investigate for possible allies or information.

First, however, we should check the Giant’s camp. If they are ALL dead, then we should loot and if some are alive, we should confirm how many for interested parties.

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letters home
Letter 15 (The big summery)

Dear mom and dad

I know its been a few days since you have heard from me, and are probably worried seeing as how i normally send letter to you everyday. and because of this i have a LOT of things to talk about.

First thing first, there is an evil race of demonic blue chain/torture women that are strangely taken an interest in me. Haven’t really messed with me except with my dreams but as for now they are a minor treat.

Now for the schedule that i did in Torch during my down time for 3 weeks.

Week 1, Studied dragons and blue demons to find origins or weaknesses to both. At night i trained the local Torch Adjunct members of the local constabulary. Seeing as they all work for a former party member of ours that has put a lot of effort into not only providing security for the town, but have also set up a beneficial working system that everyone is happy with.

Week 2, I kept up my study habits but i also brushed off my blade work, for that way i could teach the non-combat oriented women, who happen to be professional entertainment troupe, how to properly hold light weapons.

Week 3, I didn’t do anything really noticable in this week except more studying as well as help anyone who was in need of a strong man. As well as resupplied my inventory.

We set off in search of a woman Casandalee in the East. The town that we came across was as anti-technology as you could EVER want to be. And it seems that the town is more “Connected” than more towns normally are. It would seem that there is a mutation problem that is going on underground and we are going to help the town out.

On a side not the blue women tried, and suceeded, to contact me in my dreams and tell me that they have an obcession with me. I wouldn’t mind this but they are evil and chaotic and are prone to random acts of non-provoked violence.

We meat these quirky druid brothers that can’t seem to get along even thought the only thing that they seem to have to argue about it the color of a creation.

Next up we went underground to search for clues and to find out what could have became of Casandalee. We ran into some (A LOT) of murder robots in the form of a swarm as well as an assassin bot that self-destructed when it thought it was going to die.

Gotta wrap this up for my next letter.

As always, your son,
Flynn

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Journal of Shadow Mal 17

Entry 168, Day 98, Noon

This morning I went to the local bar. Flynn tried the same thing last night, and while he apparently won the drinking contest, his winnings were eclipsed by his bar tab. I suspect he will not be joining us today, but time will tell.

The locals’ distaste for outsiders is expressed in many ways, including very uncomfortable lodgings, but after buying a few rounds of exquisitely terrible beer and listening to ridiculous local problems I was able to get a feel for the local color. The most helpful citizens (and the most ridiculous) are probably the trash brothers, who spend their days gathering filth and using druidic magic to stimulate crop growth and their evenings trying to create a new form of defense for the town. They have some species of plant or plant-like fey that can blend in with foliage and ambush attackers, though their current experiments remain incomplete. I say “ridiculous” because these two brothers hate each other, and feud bitterly over whether these Leshi-creatures should brown and blend in with the trees, or green and blend in with the grass and bushes.

I suppose this is what people do in small towns for entertainment, but aside from that there were a few points of interest. A clan of wandering Varisians are camped in a nearby apple grove, they purportedly come around this time of year for whatever it is they do on their wanders. More locally, there is a family of stonemasons always interested in finding custom for their quarry. I might have to purchase a block from them now that I think about it, after some consideration on the Kyton Problem I believe I have worked out a means of interrogation. It will take some prep-work, but I have the time and the extra-dimensional space. The local tannery once produced some sort of “Golden Leather,” they are very proud of their local map-maker, various other details I have forgotten since the conversations. I determined little else of note, except that the so-called “bad water” which causes the local mutations is not, in fact, why this beer tastes so terrible.

After a long breakfast of chatting, we made our way to the domicile of Redfang’s friend. I believe his name was Ivik? Ivik is another member of the Deadeye council (basically the local leading families) and wanted a low-key investigation to avoid panic and angry mobs. I made the point that wandering murderhobos are rarely good at subtlety, but was forced to agree that he had few options.

A few days ago a hunter shot a mutant bird, and was greatly concerned to find that it was actually some kind of metal construct in the shape of an owl. It was bearing a note written in Androffan, and was clearly a message of the Technic League’s intentions to investigate the bad water as well as the good fields, and they believe both these phenomena have to do with lost or hidden technology (obviously). The note further implied that searching for the source was dangerous, because it would blow the writer’s cover identity.

We investigated the bad water area, finding no obvious spring or hidden cave like in Torch, and we asked the nearby family (the stonemasons) if they had seen anyone. Things seemed to go nowhere until a child in the house revealed he had been playing in the toxic area and found a pair of “gold” (brass) “clapper thingies” (finger cymbals, also known as “zil”). Susie had a vague recollection that such instruments are common in Varisian culture. We offered the usual bribe for useful information (paid his parents) and are making our way to the apple orchard to speak to some Varisians

Entry 169, Day 98, Evening

The cold entrance was awkward, as Varisians are known for their bad reputation and defensive because of it. But after some discussion I was able to uncover that their people did sometimes assist people on the run, and that only one of their number currently used such accoutrements. Since I managed to avoid offending him or putting on a threatening demeanor, their speaker led us to her tent to speak with her. What we found was scattered and disarrayed tent of someone who had packed up and run away very recently. The speaker quickly revealed she had been a runaway of some sort, and that it is not their way to ask questions if a fellow traveler pays her way and makes no trouble. I respect this, since I have had my own need for “no questions asked” travel before.

While investigating the tent, I found a perch that had probably been used by a bird of prey (or a mechanical construct shaped like one) and Susie found a very damning note speaking of the woman’s spying efforts on behalf of the technic league as well as a set of explosive runes. We all survived, fortunately, but the tent will have to be broken down for salvage and no further evidence could be gathered from the ashes and debris. After consideration I recommended that the speaker of the group come with us to explain the situation and how his people were not involved in this technological “heresy”. The rest of the Varisians wisely began packing up to leave, as angry mobs are rarely discriminating in their hunt for a good target. I do hope they make it out all right, and did my best to back them up diplomatically. They are important to this town, and Iadenveigh is far too insular to conduct necessary trade without the assistance of groups such as their caravan.

At this point a council was called, which meant we had several hours to kill waiting for everyone to gather. Flynn rejoined us in time to visit the Trash Speakers. The two brothers were exactly as described, feuding hilariously and pointlessly over how best to protect the town. They were also able to tell me that something about the soil just beyond the bad water is special. Trees grow incredibly fast (a whole fruit-bearing tree in 2 years is not natural) and it seems samples of the soil retain these properties when dug up and moved elsewhere. After a brief flirtation with trying to bring the two sides together in their furious debate, we wished them both luck and wandered back to the meeting house.

The meeting was mostly a formality, everyone was informed of what they had likely already been told on the way in, that a League spy had been sniffing around bad water and good dirt, and it was quite clear that the technology they had tried to bury and ignore was not going to stay buried, no matter how hard they hoped or prayed to Erastil.

And so, we are off a well which was so dangerous the town elders felt the need to bury it under a magically-trapped rock. We may be skeletonized by a shimmering glow cloud of doom, but we’re taking the job.

Entry 170, Day 98, Evening

I am writing this to see if I have suffered any serious brain damage. After removing the cap and going down a well we discovered another tech dungeon. After some wandering about and dealing with a lighting trap of some sort we were assaulted by a flying ooze called a “nanite cloud.” I am told it was actually made of millions of tiny constructs, too small to see as anything but dust and very deadly. It buzzed and hummed and referred to us as “defective androids” while we desperately tried to kill it with our area-damage tools and tricks. Flynn in particular was chewed up badly. I shudder to think what would have happened had Bruce and his lovely frost bombs not been with us.

After the battle we discovered another one of those image records, which showed a man and an unclear outline in conversation as they plotted to delve this ruin and plunder it. Susie believes the bodiless entity was an invisible stalker, and it referred to its current master as Xoud, the technomancer from the smoking tower. Come to think of it, I need to see if we he spoke the stalker’s name, it could prove relevant.

Beyond that room was a mostly-collapsed chamber which was once VERY large, and appears to have once been an android forge. This was further evidenced by the summary assault of a band of badly-deformed and mentally unstable androids, presumably the result of being rendered “not defective” by the nanite swarm, or some such. The fight was going well until their assassin of a leader shot me in the back of the head with some kind of cold gun. I don’t recall much after that, something about Flynn burying them in knocked over shelves and the woman who shot me exploding with incredible force. I was still active, but I think some of the memories were too cold to form at the time.

We now have a stack of goo tubes that I apparently agreed to cast purify food and drink on tomorrow, and a pile of broken technology that the androids were attempting to fix by hitting it with hammers and praying to it. At least they weren’t slapping it with their dicks. So far everything down here is broken and useless, and I am lobbying for us to withdraw. It is late, after all, and except for Flynn most of us probably need sleep soon.

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Journal of Shadow Mal 16

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.

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Vidon in Chesed Part 2
We go about town

We spent some time creating equipment and retraining to use weapons. As we completed the tasks we get word that the Head Priestess of Abadar sends word that she will see us now. Harkness asks her about his previous life and she responds that she remember him. She shares that Ovid had heard of Android Forges and was researching the locations of them. Between the Priestess and Harkness they figure that the nearest one is probably 100 miles away.

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Vidon and Company in Chesed
Will we be able to stay out of trouble in a Technic League city?

After our encounter with some Technic League thugs and the City Watch we were very careful not to go anywhere without someone else along. There was a very real chance of some of us being on Wanted posters. So we never unpacked completely.

Flynn went to a n Armor and got his 2 Adamantine Wakizashi’s, I got a Light Ironwood Quickdraw Shield and sold my large shield. I also picked up a new belt and one of those funny flying stones that is supposed to make my use of the Chainsaw easier to handle. Susie and Mal picked up a few useful items too.

Mal was going to be fairly busy creating some stuff so I went and found a trainer to toughen myself up so maybe I won’t fall sown so often. Flynn trained with his new weapons.

I think the plan for next week is to start looking for the next part of the Music Box and try to get Harkness is to see the High Priest of Abadar.

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On the road again with Vidon
Where will our travels take us?

We left Scrapwall and walked the road toward Chesed. On the second day out we find 4 Hill Giants. I hate Giants so I attacked. It caused us some slight trouble but no one went down. On the third day out Flynn woke up without the ability to talk. It appears that the wound was from earlier in a fight. Mal healed him. A message from the Priestess arrives via a clockwork Hawk.

We arrive in Chesed in the shadier side of town. It appears that there is a Tax Festival going on. We get a note asking us to meet someone in the Lords District. It is recommended to us to stay at the Martyred Mare. We decided to go to the Bar and Grill in the Lord’s District. We see our “Friend” Treet from Torch is talking to an Elf at a table. Treet moves to the bar and Arim and Harkness move to either side of him.

Two agents of the Technic League challenge us to a fight outside. I tell them to go ahead of us. The Half-elf cast a spell that seemed to make me feel slower than normal, but Susie cast her spell and I feel normal. Harkness shoots them and Arim fires his bow while trying to not hurt them.

It turns out that the summons to meet someone here was indeed a trap. We made a mistake in trusting that everyone is honest and straight-forward in their dealings with people. That is evidently not the case when it involves the Technic League. Unbeknownst to us the tavern we were sent to is the local hangout of the League. So when we went outside we were presented with some made up Rules of the Duel. We tried to abide by them but were unable to compete as we were outnumbered and outclassed.

The last thing I recall is hearing a hysteric laughing, and then nothing til I was shaken awake by a City Watchman. We need to tread lightly in this city I see. We will continue with oour mission and keep a very close watch on our surroundings.

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Journal of Shadow Mal 15

Entry 160, Day 39, Evening

Puny god.

We descended further into the metal dungeon, discovering along the way that it was, in fact, a gigantic digging machine which Hellion wished to possess and use as a new body. We were assaulted by Dark Folk, yet another familiar brand of shadow-dwelling humanoid given to murder and stealth. From what I gather they are not actually extra-planar in nature, but they do fear the light and even when walking in total darkness prefer to bundle themselves under multiple layers of filthy clothing. According to Arim they also fear the light, see perfectly in any kind of darkness, and as witnessed, upon death their bodies explosively evaporate into one or another brand of energy. Some burst into blinding light, some shattered into thunderous waves of sound, and rumors tell of other subspecies having even more spectacular death throes, and they seem to bear the mark of Darklands corruption.

But enough ecology, after a dark-folk ambush, Flynn touched one of the many screens that Hellion was using to shout at us and was promptly rendered stupid. The touch of idiocy curse is (fortunately) temporary, but always troublesome, and we were forced to ride herd on him to keep his attentions from wandering away for the rest of the delve.

And his attentions were important, as we were soon faced with yet another horde of Hellion’s fanatics, whipped into a frenzy by the roaring chainsaw of Kulgara. Aside from the obvious threat of an angry warhost and a mad orcish barbarian with a deadly tech-weapon was another ambush by Dark Folk and several hurled explosions, both technological and magical. This chainsaw is a powerful weapon, it’s primary threat is the titual “chain saw-blade” which is exactly what it sounds like. Sharp blades attached to chain links are placed on a gear and crank system which whirls the blades at incredible speed around and around. It achieves slow cutting effect of a saw with the speed of a chopping axe. Quite ingenious, I find myself wondering if I could create a magical construct which would achieve the same effect, perhaps with a circular blade that whirled in place…

But again I digress. The battle was fierce but we were victorious, and after looting and investigating we found the control center of this massive digging machine. Its guards (small insectoid robots) were quickly dispatched and upon the screens of this nerve center was (unsurprisingly) Hellion once again. Arim continued to torture this machine-demon with disinformation and misleading claims. I was quite impressed as this self-styled god was reduced to selling out his own minions in the hopes that we would let him escape “the other team” (which did not exist) that had been sent by Unity and the Technic League (who may not even be aware of each other, let alone working together) that was sent to kill him. Lies are such terrible weapons sometimes. After he told us several useful things in exchange for a liar’s empty promises Susie remembered the Memory Facet she was carrying and decided to attach it to the banks and arrays of incomprehensible (to me, at least) machinery. Hellion barely had time to yelp in horror before he was banished from the screens and, it seems, the entirety of this great village-sized excavator.

Another ambush and battle burned out the last of my wand of healing, it seems I underestimated the amount of damage my allies would be receiving on this trip. We soldiered on and found the last surviving member of Hellions Lords of Rust was not, as I had thought, an alien from the stars. She was instead an alien from the planes, and had been hunting and parasitically breeding in the corpses of people for some time. She was a Xill named Zaagmander, and had apparently chosen to abandon Hellion just as he had abandoned her. She was cursed to be unable to return to her home plane, and offered to assist us if we could assist her. Hellion would otherwise escape, she said, and with our depleted resources we were willing to agree. Lawful outsiders can usually be trusted to stick to a short-term deal, even if they are ultimately a dangerous and deadly evil.

With the assistance of the outsider we were able to quickly find and defeat Hellion’s true form (a mechanical scorpion) and the few robots he still had at his side. Upon defeat his machine body shrank down to the size of the small machines we fought back near Hacklmore. I almost feel bad for the beast, dying in terror and ignorance, with nothing but constructs at his side. But then he chose to stand alone, and his goals had always been to make everyone and everything his puppet.

So ends the puny god, and tomorrow we shall either return Zaagmander to her home plane or my magics will fail and we will probably have to kill her. I still feel moral qualms about agreeing to help her escape her dimensionally-anchoring curse, as it is clear she or her children will return to hunt here anew, but I won’t bust a deal and we needed to make it at the time.

Entry 161, Day 40, Morning

Zaagmander is free to stalk the planes once more and the deal is now completed without betrayal or dishonor. It is my hope I can rectify this transgression later, perhaps set up a bounty on Xill in the Scrapwall area for other adventurers to collect. As it is we did what we had to, whether or not I like it. Hopefully Chesed has a pathfinder lodge, those are always good for placing bounties and getting problems solved with violence.

Speaking of Chesed and future plans. I have been speaking to Mr. Sileet about his combat aspirations. Although I could never hope to teach or train him in the arts of the sword, I know a thing or two about the combat style he seems to have started developing all on his own. His love of twin blades would likely be better served with smaller, lighter weapons than what he is currently wielding, and I recall seeing a kind of short sword that was often used with this style in Tian Xia. If I can find someone with the appropriate expertise in crafting I suspect I can help him find what he is searching for with the sword and axe pair he currently swings. Chesed is where Harkness’ quest leads, and it was a place that Hellion had leads on weapons against the other dread Machine Spirit, Unity.

That reminds me, we need to see if we can still use that Memory fragment. I shall ask Susie.

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Letters Home
Letter 14 (Some good and bad)

Dear Mom and Dad,

So for the latest, and hopefully last update being done in Scrapwall, we ah…well this is kinda hard to write since there is some traces of the touch of stupidity left but. here it goes. As it turns out the last guardian for Hellion was a planes hopper that rapes it’s victums and once this is done its babies explode the victum upon birth. Truth be told, The archer spoke with this creature and did some DAMN good diplomacy because it let us through so we could kill the would-be machine god Hellion before it reached full power. HURRAY!!! Although as soon as the battle was over the last guardian disappeared on us. But at the time i was to exausted to care. But don’t think for a second that i don’t think this will come back to bite us in the ass.

We are staying for a time to finalize and settle the power hold on the city so that we can axcess this city late. But for now we are heading north an OUT OF THIS HELL HOLE!!!. I couldn’t be happier.

Write to you new when i have more happier news.

Your Son
Flynn Sileet

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Devon watches the last Lord of Rust disappear.

Only being one lord left, Zagmander, we head further into the belly of this gigiantic machine. We bicker a bit about whether we should go straight to the remaining lord or make sure nothing jumps us from behind. Thinks have tried that twice so far and I’m no longer interested in a third occurrence. As our fighters are in desperate need of glasses, they rush into the lair of the DarkCreepers and are completely oblivious to their presence until the stabbing begins. Thankfully they are not very tough and we are able to walk out without too much effort. I scout further ahead and see some weird thing sitting in a vat of bubbling stuff. It knows we’re here since we through some exploding DarkCreepers its way eariler, so I suspect it won’t go anywhere on its own initiative. Declaring that side done we head to the other.

The first thing we find is a large collection of bodies who have been killed by alien chest bursters. This looks rather ominous. we get together and try to figure out what could do such a thing. Our conclusion is a Xill and they are important since, their bite paralyzes. Sadly, we have no antitoxin on us, so we’ll just have to take our chances. Further into its lair, we see that all the monitors are broken. It seems to have had a falling out with Hellion. We finally meet it and it is willing to talk to us. We learn it only joined the Lords of Rust in exchange for Meyanda removing a curse from it that placed upon her several years ago. The curse stopped her plane shift ability and left her stranded and in pain. Meyanda was unable to remove the curse and her replacement was pretty incompetent. So Zagmander dummped the Lords of Rust and has been down here killing off any stray followers she comes across. We tell her we are well aware of Meyanda’s lack of magical ability and that we are more pwerful than her. If she helps us we will remove the curse. Secretly talking to each other, we plan on attempting to remove the curse via magical means, but if that fails we will remove it via executing her, since we don’t wat to leave behind any surprises.

Zagmander warns us that if we don’t go take care of Hellion quickly, he will escape. We head down to his lair and find he has kind of possessed a little drone and it the process turned it into a huge scorpion bot. He moves incredibly fast in it and hurts several people. Thankfully we are able to overcome him with Zagmander’s help.

The next day we successfully remove Zagmander’s curse and she disappears, never to bother us again. At this point we have finished of the Lords of Rust and find ourselves the defacto rulers of Scrapwall. However, Redtooth and the Steel Hawks seem to want us to leave soon. Redtooth is the only one with any power left and is eager to be the new force in town. I’m not sure what the Steel Hawks issue is. They were the very lowest faction when we arrived and they are no number two. We’ve been deliberate in our dealings with them and they know we’d like to see their position here improve. Our presence here can only be a boon to them as they raise themselves up on our coattails. Anways, we are now planning on relaxing a day or two and then progressing north to Chesed.

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