Entry 152, Day 35, evening
Madame Marrow’s contingency-planning skills were uninspired, but I am getting ahead of myself.
The Smiler’s den was guarded by a mechanical sentinel attached to a “Laser Rifle.” Like Harkness’ fire-throwing pistols it could burn anyone within its range and like a golem it could sense and target people who approached without speaking the right code-phrase. Fortunately, its strange technological senses were no better than that of a normal construct, and Arim’s superior skill with shadow-blending and silent-walking allowed him to reach the device without notice or alarm and deftly disable it. The rest of us approached, looted the “turret” of its weapon and kicked in the front door.
We were immediately set upon by Gun-shy, who broke Harkness’ favorite gun and nearly broke him before falling. He was in what passes for a bar to a cult of cannibalistic psychopaths. After healing we advanced and found the Smiler’s fatally flawed tactics. While they all had the expensive and dangerous pistols so common in this land, none of them bothered to arm themselves for close combat. I find this odd, as most mutilation-cults trend toward bestial “rip and tear” combat and give themselves clawed or bladed weapons and filed, gnashing teeth for murdering and chewing on their enemies. Not that I am complaining, their poor tactical planning and cramped quarters made them easy pickings.
We found broken zombies, their limbs grafted to half-broken tools and weapons, their bodies controlled by a technological version of necromancy. Interesting how for all the wonders and amazing things that this technology can produce, it seems to inevitably repeat the same lovely glories and abominable crimes that magic-wielders engage in. But I digress. We also found secret doors and passages that served no actual purpose and were barred for no discernible reasons. A running theme with these people and their insanity.
We rescued Whiskeyfist, but he was not in a condition to walk the paths and badlands of Scrapwall on his own. We crushed the tech-zombies and more madmen and finally kicked in the door of Marrow’s den. She somehow pushed the grip of her magic past the legendary resistance of Vidon’s dwarven heritage, but that was her last act of magic before I silenced the entire room. Dispelling is not my specialty, but between Vidon’s stout will and my own talents I shredded the magic that paralyzed him and he struck forward. Even when she deployed toxic gas grenades and reinforcements struck from behind we ground down her defenders, both living and undead. It was near the very end of the battle that she attempted to flee from a distracted and retching Flynn before being struck down by Arim’s lucky bow. I was distracted by her flight, and one of the few remaining Smilers got a lucky, and very painful shot on me.
waele phindar zatoasten, nindel llaar jivviim lu’Usstan kestal nind skiki cos
Let us just say I am not that flush with victory, even if we won. My broken leg is currently propped up on a table and I do not plan on leaving this chair unless the Rough Beast itself is making a ruckus. I should be able to fix this tomorrow, and I will not discuss my uncharitable opinions on -this filthy rat ho-our current accomodations. I am sure they will seem much better when I am feeling better.
Can’t even get a decent drink with all the Smiler “liquor” being horrible and tainted with body parts. Mutilation cults are such nasty things.
Entry 153, Day 37, morning
I feel much better, and while this place is still filthy it seems a lot more homey. Most of Redtooth’s lost tribe have returned, and I have rendered some small assistance with my magics while Arim wheels and deals in his industrious way. Always throwing more blocks and bodies onto that hill he wants to be king of. He is quite obsessed with his dream of having a unit of Rust Monster cavalry at his call. Healing and mending is always valued, and I believe I fostered good will with my trivialities and incidental assistance the past 2 days. They were wary at first, both because I was a physician who had failed (at first) to heal myself and because trust is difficult in a lawless land
The ratfolk society exemplifies the strengths of the animals they draw their name from. Quick of blood and quick of finger, I delivered several of their younger clan members for scolding, though that scolding seems to be more dedicated towards not getting caught than not stealing. They are survivors, like rats they faced the brutal attempted extermination of their people with aplomb and it was ultimately their enemies which were found wanting. In many ways I am reminded of the descriptions of the nomadic Varisians, though I am also reminded of the Tian Xian histories of Oni-led ratfolk armies boiling out of Sekamina and acting as servants of darkness.
Still, the way they were able to welcome their lost tribe members so quickly after said members had abandoned them had a certain beauty to it. ‘To forgive, divine’ as the saying goes…
Now that we have reconnoitered the area some more and set the Lords of Rust back on their heels, our plan going forward is to meet up with the priestess of Brigh who cloisters herself like a hermet behind construct guardians. She is either the woman who Father Joram Kyte says is no longer hunted by the League, the woman who Wrennie has said is once more hunted by the evil minstrel-lord from Daggerfall, or both. Moreover, she is a force to be reckoned with and somewhat on-the-way to other places we need to go.
After that, we hope to speak with the Manticore, assuring he will not be a problem for us in the future through bribery or violence. What little I know if Manticores and Mutants (for he is both) suggests that it will be violence, but the beasts DO have minds under the fur, teeth, and poison.
Then comes the truly tricky part, there is an area which is believed to contain packaged destruction called “Cylex” (?) in an ill-used portion of this blighted area. It and possibly other technological treasures remain untouched because the place is haunted by a gang of incorporeal undead. Word is they keep to their zone, and repeated use of the word “gang” leads me to believe they are uncharacteristically coherent. Ghosts and specters who know what they are yet linger in the mortal realm are often the most dangerous of all, for who would retain an accursed half-existence but those of inordinate will and dangerously dedicated purpose?
Entry 154, Day 37, Noon
It is a shame we had to break all those junk golems, from what I know those things are quite expensive. I do not blame Ms. Dinvaya Linalei for setting them to attack us, of course, she is at least as hunted (if not more so) than any of our little band and merely shows an appropriate amount of paranoid self-defense measures. After knocking on her door, crushing her construct defenders, and knocking on her second door, we were able to converse for a short period before mentioning the name of Lord Jerod. She immediately slammed the inner door and began working on exploding acid things. Judging from the curses, these things did not seem to be working.
After more confused and disjointed discussion including information that our three Quested companions never got around to sharing, (we are not very good at communicating, so I am not surprised) I explained, in the correct and coherent order, how we came to be here and Arim shoved the letter from Wrennie under the door.
After some more back and forth which I honestly don’t recall (acrid fumes were giving me a headache) Sister(?) Linalei told us what she knew. It was known (apparently) that each person in the quartet of artifact-hiders only knew the location of one other member, a round-robin method of watching each others’ backs. Her charge has dropped from her sight, whether through death or through magical occlusion, and upon our news it is clear she is no longer safe where she is.
She intends to flee, and because her face is known and she has (it seems) no means of obscuring her own looks she gave us the gearbox of the accursed artifact. This changes little, given we already have enemies and vendettas levied upon us, so I can hardly disapprove. She is going to make for Torch, and assuming we all live will see us when we return there. Strange, what was merely a stop along the way has become a sort of home…at the very least I need to return and finish crafting my new robes. I have few other uses for this phasing thread and alchemical gold buttons.
Dinvaya made one last attempt to destroy the gearbox, but neither she nor we were surprised it failed. Frigglish didn’t write about something if it could be destroyed by reasonable efforts. After that, we went our separate ways.
Entry 155, Day 37, afternoon.
The march up the mountain was dull, interrupted only once by a strange form of ghost. A weak, hateful spirit, it is sometimes formed when someone is killed by a trap they were trying disarm. It forges a body of discarded scrap and creates traps around it, to spread its curse and share its pain the same way so many undead creatures do. Much as I would have liked to put it to rest, it quickly fled in the face of our strength and we were still “on the clock” so to speak. The name of the beast escapes me again…I had it at the time. Ah well.
Reaching the radioactive beast’s nest and lair, we called out to it and were immediately assaulted. Susie opened with a spell that blinded it and the battle went rather quickly downhill for the beast from there. We found some magical trinkets and Harkness determined that the Manticore was radioactive, (he says it is like the glowing poison cloud we encountered in the ship under Torch) and dangerous to meddle with. Well, they are poisonous normally anyway, but it seems this poison works like a gas or a terrible light. Flynn and Arim were disappointed, as they had a mirthful idea involving setting up the body so it looked as if it had committed suicide. Complete with hangman’s noose that its paws could not tie and suicide note in a language I doubt it knew. We’re so weird.
Moving on, we made our way down the hill, dispatched a frankly pathetic assault by Hellion-worshipping chokers (odd how many there are here, considering this is the surface world) and were then greeted by an emissary. His glaze-eyed devotion, laughably sacrificial nature, and erudite prose were polished, I must admit. While this Hellion-thing continues to be an enemy, I must give credit where it is due, he does know how to program cultist diplomats.
We have been invited to “discuss the new order” and various other flowery ways of saying “come join the dick-waving contest we call ‘diplomacy’ at the arena where we’ll also try to kill you when we aren’t trying to intimidate or cut a deal with you.” It seems the current boss of the arena is a troll warrior, and I am sure he will have both “test” challenges as well as ambushes prepared. But we committed to nothing, for now, as we have a goal and no need to get side-tracked just yet.
Ugh, chokers. Those waggling, tentacle-like arms are so creepy.