Iron Gods - Mike Korupp

Journal of Shadow Mal part 29

Entry 203, Day 192, Evening

It has been a while.

I fell out of the habit of writing things down, first from being too busy, then from having to burn my old journal (it picked up some kind of pink mold) and recopy it. But I suppose I should recap the last month and a half.

I spoke to Binox again, and it would seem he no longer recalls our previous conversations. Some further investigation proved he has what Mist referred to as a “memory leak.” He loses most of his memories, including all knowledge of our previous conversation. He knew he controlled the power source we had gathered for him but believed he had always controlled it. In spite of this communication barrier, I believe I managed to impress upon him the need to set up a regular “burn patrol” to go out each day and cook/kill anything in the alien-befouled caves.

Some other members of his “court” are self-aware constructs as well. As beings of function, doing something about (or even noticing) their mechanical king’s growing madness is difficult, but not impossible. We discussed some courses of action, but they will take such measures in their own time. I wished them luck.

After that business, we went in search of a deadly ghost said to be poisoning the land. We found a ghost, (if I recall my studies in “101 undead horrors” it was actually a Bhuta, but that is a petty distinction) and put it down. We wandered further, did battle with a giant froghemoth that had been blighted, and finally stumbled upon the beast causing all this death and decay.

Honestly, I would have preferred if it had been a ghost, at least ghosts make sense. This beast was a living, incorporeal ooze monster, a creature of indescribable yet awful colour from the outer realms which rendered most of my anti-ghost tactics useless.

Most, but not all. Force spells and judicious violence still won the day, but Mr. Mistofelees spent several hours taking notes on the beast afterwards. It flew with maddening speed, disintegrated with a touch, and tried to decay and devour people (body and soul) simply by looking at them (though with no eyes, its “look” was an alien concept).

The next day was spent repairing the damage that this blob of ruinous energy had done to people.

The day after that I was eaten by a giant mutant crocodile before walking around inside a horrid rotting corpse. The Dominion forces came to this world in a “drop ship.” So named, presumably, because it drops from the sky and crashes. The ship, a living thing, dies from this impact but its crew survive to colonize and conquer. The rotting carcass of the beast causes mutations and madness nearby (hence the aforementioned crocodile) which I only survived when Susie was kind enough to transform me into an air elemental.

A rather freeing sensation, really, I should try that again sometime. But I digress.

The inside of the ship was the inside of a rotting carcass, albeit one with tissue as hard as steel. It was horrid, smelly contained “traps” in the form of bursting pustules and “treasures” in the form of the vile organic tools and weapons that the Dominion uses. Some of the “crew” remained, still doing maintenance and repair work and defending their ship despite it being dead, pointless, and a waste. They looked like flying horseshoe crabs, with dangling tentacles below the main body and threw lightning to little effect. I have taken to always dosing everyone with lightning resistance before a major delve, as it simplifies matters when I have an opportunity to use a breath weapon.

We met the ship’s brain, which was depressed and angry about being left to die, it asked us to get revenge for it (we agreed, since the Dominion presence must be destroyed) then it tried to kill us to “make sure we were strong enough.” I suppose being half-dead and blinded by the pain of a slowly-rotting body makes logical thought difficult.

The dominion cave was strange. We fought cybernetic spiders, found intellect devourers, were confused and disturbed by scaly, slimy, living wallpaper. We met a mutated Black Dragon named Maukui with a taste for self-augmentation and a fascination with technology, I managed to talk our way out of a fight and even get some helpful information out of him. He told us of the Dweller in the Dark who leads the Dominion forces and of The Surgeon, a Kyton who is apparently more “mellow” than the two factions we have been having trouble with.

Part of the way through fighting more cyber-spiders Flynn spontaneously attacked the Surgeon, despite the fact that a great big scary dragon thought she was “dangerous”, and apparently because he thought it would please the Kyton he is currently “trying to convert to good.”

So after he was rendered helpless and bleeding on the floor I managed to talk Ms. Paajgat out of killing or “improving” him. It was not easy, but we worked out a peaceable settlement and I eventually put the boy back on his feet. His Magoo-like luck has its limits, it would seem.

I do not recall particularly interesting details beyond that, teleport circles, strange techno-organic constructs, a hideous alien and its hideous alien minions throwing spellwork and claws and tentacles at us.

Part of the deal with Maukui was to give him back a technological device he had been studying. He only described what it looked like, a tripod with wires and things on it. We told him we were looking for a mind. Sadly it seems the two were linked, and we simply did not understand what the other wanted. Rather than kill a dangerous black dragon while tired and battle damaged we elected to follow the letter of the agreement, removing Casandalee from her tortuous prison but leaving the prison for Maukui to find.

I am sure he is enraged by this “betrayal” but frankly, I had and still have higher priorities than fighting a mutant black dragon. We teleported back to Pete’s place. I took an hour to meet with Binox (for the first time, again) and convince him and his minions to burn whatever might still be alive in the other alien caverns.

After that we went home to Torch, where demons had attacked.

They were not particularly powerful demons, but they were enough to overpower the guards and torture poor Mr. Costello for several hours. He is still shaken up and I spent several days working with him. I have also given him a sort of “plan B” should something like this happen again. A scroll of Holy Word is expensive but will deal with most lower-order monsters. Anything tough enough to handle that is too tough for ANY measures I have the resources to set up, and likely so powerful that their mere arrival would kill anyone tring to stand up to them.

We did some crafting, we rebuilt what was damaged, and we got a body for Casandalee.

Sandy is…odd. Even by the standards of spirits who used to be androids who were tortured for several decades and are demigod-like tech-spirit AIs. Well actually maybe she is perfectly normal by those standards, I would not know. She shows signs of trauma but also other things. Her powers are strange and magical, yet also NOT magical, and do not make a lot of sense. Her psychology remains people-ish, yet also decidedly alien. Bas and I have had several conversations with her, separately and together, as she becomes re-acquainted with both having a body and relating to beings that are not evil torturers.

Flynn went home to visit his parents, and ended up getting an engagement ring made of barbed wire from his girlfriend. I have repeatedly counseled against this, but I suspect I need to take more active steps. I do not like fighting former allies, but that appears to be the course we are on.

Mist is talking about “if only we had a cranial bomb, this would all be easy.” For my own part I am thinking marks of justice.

On the bright side, she did give him useful information. The Kytons currently trying to mass-convert people to their “cause” have been named and we have leads on them. We went to Chesed and dispatched one in his sewer-borne home. We rescued several tabloid journalists in the process and filled them in on what is really going on with the abductions, the League, and the Kytons.

We then sniffed around and found one of the cults dedicated towards bringing back The Terror Within. He is a devil-lord, and apparently he dies a lot. His intent is to devour Susie’s soul and be reborn, and his cult is promised earthly rewards for making it happen via slow-but-steady sacrifice and ritual. Most of the cult worked a fishing corporation and performed their sacraments in a nearby graveyard. It was a fairly simple matter to study them, follow one home, and capture/interrogate him.

After he gave us everything he knew, I stuffed him in a portable hole, summoned a Hound Archon and asked it to take the cultist somewhere out of the way, like the capital city of Brevoy, and do something that would keep him from returning to his wicked ways. I don’t know if this resulted in bloody judgement or attempted rehabilitation, but the archon returned my magic item and it no longer had a cultist in it. It also didn’t have my rope, but such is life.

The cult was based in a somewhat run-down mansion. They all met because of the disappearance and apparent kidnapping of their friend. We slipped in as quietly as possible, (teleportation magic is so useful) and proceeded to subdue and store the household staff while the cultists met and muttered in their basement shrine.

The battle was short but fierce, and we were lucky enough to have their leader survive. After interrogation we have leads on two other cells. One is in Scrapwall, where life is cheap and organization is nonexistent and the other is in Starfall, where we will not be going just yet.

I dislike judging the wicked, but that’s what the blessings of summoning spells are for. I summoned a whole pack of Hound Archons, including (surprisingly) the one who came last time. I quickly told the five of them the situation (powerful servant and worshipper of a devil lord, gave useful information, needs a summary judgement). They walked over as one, each laying a hand upon him, and the they were gone, along with my other coil of rope. (note to self, buy more rope).

I do not know what happened to him, but I have my suspicions. An archon’s teleportation ability can only bring 50 pounds of material with it. One of my books concerning planar beings had a somewhat apocryphal theory that a group of outsiders who were truly “in synch” could sort of “pool” their carrying capacity and bring larger objects with them, possibly even doing more than simply teleporting or teleporting to a place where plane-shifting was easier.

The theory also stated that such a sensation would be akin to being ripped apart at the seams and then forced back together, incredibly painfully.

Ah well, judgement. We will be heading to Scrapwall tomorrow, tonight I will be purchasing more rope and more soap.

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shilkund

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