Daruna - Session Three


Play the weekend of August 17-19, 2012


The party's trip to Vishka is long and full of conflict. Their first hint of trouble comes when a massive black cloud-spiral drops to the ground several miles away. A few hours later they realize they're being trailed by... someone or something: large, black, shadowy forms. They glow with greenish light, and when Orca drops back to try and get a better look, they avoid his position, as if they can sense his presence. This cat and mouse game persists for several days, but eventually the pursuers change tactics and close in. The attack is swift and very nearly puts an end to the party. Six large, quadruped constructs of bone, bronze plates, and rusty chain charge the group, dripping greenish ichor as they close. As they close several tentacled, worm-like creatures leave their mounted positions on the horse-like constructs, soaring into the air.

Combat is brutal. The horse-things lash with venomous chains or spit globules of green ichor that burn and sear, releasing clouds of poisonous gas. The flying worms grasp with their tentacles, then drive needle-like tails into flesh. Lister falls early on, but somehow the party manages to beat off the attack, dodging the explosive death throes of the large constructs that scatter more green ichor across the battlefield. After Sula revives Lister, and Torin, who fell in the last rounds of the battle, the group leaves in haste, hoping to put distance between themselves and any other pursuers.

After a few quiet travel/rest cycles the party crosses paths with a massive bubble of light moving rapidly across the no-time zone. Running is futile as the bubble is moving much faster than the party. They are engulfed, and find themselves in a lush, tropical scene, a broad valley containing a small river and bordered by primeval forest. Sensing an opportunity to replenish their supplies, the party quickly spreads out, Sula and Ramone attempting to catch some of the huge fish they see in the stream, while the others forage for fruit and gather firewood along the edge of the forest.

Their relief is short-lived. A massive predatory cat with huge fangs charges from the undergrowth and attacks Lister, who fends it off as best he can, while shouting for help. The others rush to assist, and eventually dispatch the giant feline. The group decides more caution is needed, and after butchering the cat and feasting on fish, they head downstream to see what they can see.

An hour's march later they see smoke in the distance. Orca scouts ahead and eventually spots a smouldering fire with a large carcass next to it. Several large, upright lizard-creatures are feeding on the remains. Deciding discretion is wise, Orca retreats and reports back to the party. The group is quick to realize they are in some sort of warped space and that they've looped back to their own camp. Further experimentation shows that the loop-back effect happens no matter what direction they travel, so they put some distance between themselves and the raptors and settle in to rest. A few hours later the world dissolves around them and they find themselves back in no-time.

Free of any tail and well-rested and fed, the party presses on, making good time. Their happiness is short lived however, when a second spiral-cloud drops more followers behind them, a much larger party this time. The followers split into multiple groups, with one making straight for the party. This time there are several of the large horse-things carrying a dozen small, doll-like creatures. There's also someone else, a tall, shaven-headed man with a fierce black beard, mounted on one of the large constructs. He seems to have some control over the creatures and halts their progress at shouting range. "Drop the seal, walk away, and you can go free!" he calls.

The party answers with a bowshot (which misses horribly). The man calls "Kill them all, bring me the seal!" and rides off, as the rest of the creatures attack. It's another fierce fight, but once again the party proves their worth, eventually slaying the mass of foes, though not without suffering serious damage. Fearing additional attacks, they beat a hasty retreat.

So it goes for the remainder of the journey. Delaying attacks by the horse-constructs or other foes, a giant worm-thing with scorpion-like claws and three deadly tails, a life-draining, flying bat-thing commanding spidery minions, wear the party down, but never quite stop them.

Eventually they spot Sohka Peak, the massive mountain they wanted to use as a landmark to find Vishka. As they turn south they are pulled into another bubble of time. This time they find themselves on the edge of a small town at the foot of a volcano. An erupting volcano. A stream of villagers is rushing away from the town, but the party notices a pair of gray-robed men shouting at fleeing townsmen and gesturing back at the village. The party approaches, and though they don't understand the language, by signs they agree to help with whatever it is the men want.

They find themselves in a race against lava. The men lead them to a small hospital ward, where a number of sick and injured people have been abandoned. Sula manages to heal some of the wounded, and the rest of the party, assisted by the gray-robes and the now mostly-better wounded, start dragging stretchers and carrying wounded out of the town. It's a close race, with Orca, the last one out, dodging fireballs and bursts of flame from burning buildings, but eventually the party reaches the gates a few steps ahead of the fires. Some of the villagers have dropped back to help, and eventually everyone is taken care of. The gray-robe guys have little to offer the group, but they share out some of their meager food. The party takes its leave, not really wanting to loop around the edge of the bubble and into the far side of the volcano.

Another dissolve leaves them back in no-time, still heading for Vishka. After another attack, they start climbing the steep mountain-side toward a large cathedral-like structure on the volcano's western slope. Behind them a small group of pursuers still follows their trail. When they reach the structure they find a huge man-made (god-made?) tunnel leading into the core of the volcano. Fifty-foot wide sigils and runes of glowing energy float across the floor and through the walls without leaving a mark. With no other real choice, the party descends into the core, eventually reaching a large chamber.

Exploration reveals that this chamber is one of three, each connected to the others by another massive corridor that scribes the edge of a mile-wide circle. Within each of the chambers they find a stone seal set into the top of a small step pyramid. A six-pointed recess surrounded by various circular shapes and runes, and an inverted stone pyramid set into the center, a white crystal filling one corner. After some experimentation they discover they can lift the central stone and turn it, and that doing so causes the rings on the seal to move. It also causes the entire inner wall of the three chambers to move, and eventually the party realizes the three seals control three massive rings of stone that, when aligned, allow access to corridors leading inward.

While exploring the outer ring, the party managed to kill the final pursuers (that they knew about). After a rest period, they headed in to the core. They found a huge dome-like chamber with a hemisphere of pure obsidian rising from the floor. Three huge iron and stone doors were spaced equidistantly around this dome. They also discovered three seals matching those on the outer ring, one in each of the in-running corridors.

Examining one set of doors on the inner dome proved difficult, as when Orca approached them, they came to life, forming two legs of a stone and iron golem-thing with two sets of three legs and blade-like hands. Unprepared for this turn of events, the party retreated, noting two other golems moving toward them as they ran back up the corridor.

After they achieved some distance they turned to watch as the slow-moving golems returned to their doorway posts. The party came up with a simple plan (as opposed to the usual complicated plan), and put it into motion. Orca would hide near the inner dome beyond one of the doorways. The others would attempt to lure the golem away from the opening, allowing Orca to run in and (hopefully) dump the seal in the Maw that was (hopefully) beyond.

Short version: It worked. The golem attacked the main group, allowing Orca to run in and dump the seal into the fiery depths. After that it was a lot of running away while being stomped and stabbed by angry golems.

Once the seal hit the lava below it started to dissolve, releasing a cloud of glowing, golden infinite spirals and loops of energy. This cloud expanded at a geometric rate, eventually enveloping the entire party.

They came to underground, in a dusty stone corridor that seemed somehow familiar. A column of golden energy swirled before them. Eventually they realized they were back in the passage leading to the time-chamber, where all this mess had started. The golden column swirled down over the massive block in the floor (a block the party suspected sealed some sort of vault or tomb), and before their eyes it weathered away, as if thousands of years had passed in an instant, leaving a narrow stair leading down. The golden light coiled into itself and vanished, leaving the party in the dark.

Quick exploration showed the stairs lead into a small vault that contained several chests, a jeweled ring, and a glowing pendant. Reverting to loot mode, the party quickly cleared out the treasure and headed cautiously into the time-chamber, where they found Tula, the woman they were sent to find oh-so-many days ago, unconscious atop the pyramid structure in the center of the room. Wasting no time (there were still several bull and lion guard constructs in the room), the party grabbed the woman, and headed back to the surface, where they found their loyal guards Dunatra and Tripur waiting, along with the slave Loh.

Based on discussion with the guards, it seemed that most of the time they spent in no-time land hadn't actually passed here. They had come back to the surface about five days after they descended in search of Tula. Still puzzled by exactly what happened they started back toward Shalish, with the young couple and as much of their gear as they could haul.

After getting back to the surface and insuring everyone was OK (mostly), the party headed back toward Shalish. They stopped off at Anamika's shrine, and discovered some minor improvements (cleaned up, new bronze bowl on the altar, trees cut to pillars and marked with Anamika's serpent-sigil). The party theorizes this may be the work of the lizard folk you encountered before. The party leaves a bar of silver from their hoard as an offering.

At the ferry, things have changed a bit. The drunken ferryman has sold his stake to the two guys that worked for him, and left for parts unknown. There's a rumor he headed to Shalish to work on the docks. The rest of the trip is uneventful, and you reach Shalish late in the evening. Tula Selo takes charge of Arupa, and you escort them to the family estate. She gives you a letter indicating she and Arupa are back, and that she has taken back all the horses loaned to you for the trip so there is no confusion with Marshak / Rakshi. Loh departs with Tula.

The group heads to the North Ward, where Marshak, your captain friend, has his offices. He's in, and after a short delay while he sends a messenger for Rakshi, the group tells its story. The party gives a fairly full accounting, prefacing the story with a 'you're not going to believe this'. The two seem skeptical, but given Vishka's current state, they're at least a little convinced. Per agreement, the party hands over treasure found, but decides to try and bluff, and holds back the magic items. The group also returns the writ of authority and the family seal found on the retainer's corpse. Marshak and Rakshi tell the party they'll need a couple days to check on Tula/Arupa and consult with senior family members on the disposition of this agreement. The party agrees to meet for dinner at Marshak's office in two days.

After a couple days idle time, the party heads back to meet with the captain and Rakshi. They have news. The families have decided the treasure the party recovered is fair compensation for their efforts, and returns all of it to the party's treasury. Given the potential danger presented by the underground complex, the two families are going to send a strong military contingent, along with engineers and laborers, to thoroughly clear the underground caverns and seal them up. Best let sleeping dogs lie. During the dinner conversation you get the impression that Arupa is not doing so well, and that the wedding may be off. You don't get a clear idea what that might mean for relations between the Harths and Selos. It seems clear that the land grant containing the villa site is likely not going to be used as a wedding gift however.