Annals of Aldamere

Reap the whirlwind
Ser Marcel, Thorne, Mr. Dwight, Gabriel, Khiron

No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one’s existence—that which makes its truth, its meaning—its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream—alone.

After some lengthy discussion, the company decided the best path forward to solve the mystery of Chattanooga was to capture a few of the so-called “zombies”. Khiron and Justice set up some nets and baffling, and Gabriel guided the Bessie Bell within reach of one those damnable bridges, and the “fishing” was a success.

Mr. Dwight and Thorne had a field-day fiddling with the poor souls, and after some time came to understand that they were not particularly ‘smart’ or ‘attentive’ largely because the vast majority of their minds were swirling with the arcane equivalent of “extreme abacus computation”—not so much technology, but raw magic—and that it was somehow warping the flow of time within the center of the city.

Armed with some more information, the party was able to avoid extended engagements with the “zombie hordes” with some judicious use of planted distractions (Mr. Dwight called them ‘crybabies’), and make their way up one of the towering buildings next to the First National Bank of Chattanooga. Simply breaking through the warding was futile, so the party ascended through the structure to reach a sky-bridge many floors up—Olis and Justice stayed behind to keep the area clear in anticipation of a possible messy retreat.

On the far side of the bridge stood a pair of well-armed “zombies” that seemed a bit more aware, although exquisitely bored after hundreds of years of vigil. Mr. Dwight pushed a magic barrier around them, and the reaction was swift, deadly, and thankfully ineffective. As the company entered the building, the thread of the narrative become rather confusing and even a bit fuzzy in the memory.

Time within the building was broken in some way, but the company was able to see the world as it was the day of the Fall. Thorne felt the whole thing was sad seeing such a great civilization and such marvels destroyed in a single day of utter stupidity, but there was nothing to be done for it. The denizens of the bank were barely aware of us, and our interactions with the contents were equally ephemeral.

Based on Khiron’s and Mr. Dwight’s ‘scanner’, we knew the source of the effect was below, so the party clamored into a lift and descended to the lobby. The trip was unpleasant and disorienting in the extreme, and much of the company were visibly shaken by the time we reached our destination.

As terrible as the journey had been getting here, we had come to the right place. Within what was once a ‘museum’ was a powerful artifact swirling with raw magical power. It held the ward and “time lock” in place. After several hours of research, the party learned a bit of the source of the artifact and that , and further proof that the events in Chattanooga were accidental rather than deliberately done by some outside force. Several more hours of experiments, weird equipment modifications, and the aid of Thorne’s spirit-allies revealed that the artifact could sense through time & space, and was searching for ‘home’. With much labor and concentration, we witnessed the nuclear fire that “woke” the artifact up from a long slumber, and ultimately located it’s ‘zero-point’ far off which resulted in it “shutting down for transport”. The party prepared as best it could, and the all-clear was given as the artifact dropped to the floor.

What happened next was utter chaos. Two centuries of raw arcane power and ley-line energies continued to swirl as the wards about the building and city crumbled away. The might waters of the Tennessee rushed into the building, as the party did their best to escape up the stairwell to the relative safety of 10+ floors up. Khiron’s mental powers snatched the artifact from the maelstrom and passed it to Mr. Dwight, who used his magics to step to what we presumed was safety in an instance, and then Khiron himself used his etheric jetpack to fly up the stairwell. Gabriel, Thorne, and Ser Marcel ran as quickly as their legs could carry them, but Gabriel noticed Ser Marcel pause for just an instant and Thorne stumble as the former bank lobby exploded with magic, rushing water, and noise…

We live as we dream – alone. While the dream disappears, the life continues painfully

After a mad rush up the flooding stairwell, Gabriel fleet legs finally gave out as he fell back panting on the dry ground next to where Khiron had halted his flight in wait for the rest of the party. Looking back down the water rose and rose, and then leveled off… but with no sign of Ser Marcel, Thorne, or even Mr. Dwight….

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Guns don't work!
Mr. Dwight, Khrion, Olis, Gabriel

Mr. Dwight had spent much of the time travelling to Fort Payne grumbling, but it seemed sensible to him to at least leave word there should our efforts at Chattanooga prove fatal or worse. Having spent several days travelling and then a full day of trampling about the Fort trying to determine what the Protectorate knows of contents of the First National Bank of Chattanooga, he was sadly proved correct: They really didn’t know much about it and didn’t have any resources to spare to aid us.

That said, the conversation about ley lines, magic mishaps, and other esotericka seemed to annoy Mr. Dwight even more than wasting his time getting here. Alas, Thorne who would have no doubt reveled in the conversation had fallen ill on the trip, and thus missed the opportunity to join in. The conversation largely went over the heads of the rest of the company.

Returning to the Bessie Bell, Justice mentioned to the party that odds sounds were coming from a flooded cave across the way, a place that was labeled in ancient “Nickajack Cave”. Curious—and perhaps keen to tease Justice a bit about his jumpiness—the company took the “Zodiac” skiff to investigate. The cave was immense, and farther back was a beach. Khiron noted something odd about the rock formations, but said he would need to analyze samples before he could nail down what was bothering him. Mr. Dwight was sure the cave contained rare and valuable metals.

Beyond the beach was a ramshackle wall with a single partly-hinged door. The door was already breeched, but Gabriel took efforts to ensure opening it would not generate an alarming level of noise. Beyond the cave descended at a slope down to another more formidable wall with a large, sliding door. Khiron located a control panel and was able to activate it. It lead down a long, seamless corridor that illuminated at our approach.

Wary of such tight quarters, Mr. Dwight sent his ‘cricket’ ahead.The ‘cricket’ reached the end of the hallway and encountered a strange golem-like creature that contained a living humanoid head. It responded with violence at the approach of the ‘cricket’, but had failed to discerne it’s essentially “etheric” nature and thus did no harm to it. Mr. Dwight recalled it in any case, and the thing at the end of the hall sent it’s own rather more terrifying version of the cricket to greet us.

In a fit of good sense, the company decided to parlay rather than antagonize the denizens here further. It “spoke” only through text. It claimed the area was “Output 1347” and was willing to trade powerful armaments in exchange for more information on the Chattanooga situation. It seemed those of “Output 1347” understood little to nothing of the arcane so they had little information to offer otherwise. The “sample” weapon did prove beyond a doubt that they did posses technology to rival or perhaps even surpass the pre-Fall ancients.

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Fire and Forget!
Marcel, Gabriel, Mr. Dwight, Thorne, Khiron

Scottsboro proved to be an unpleasant place to stop on the company’s trip up the Tennessee River. While minding their own business in the market, a local resident accused Ser Marcel, Olis, and Khiron of a crime and they were quickly arrested and their currency “confiscated”. To free them, Mr. Dwight had to pay a additional fine and the whole exchange left a distinctly sour taste in everyone’s mouth. Mr. Dwight felt it was important to leave a message for other travelers to warn them away, so he dropped a few mines in the harbor which elicited a response which he felt was worth it. The party left in haste, exchanging gunfire in our wake, and took pains to spread word of the mistreatment we received in Scottsboro—although Thorne tends to over-embellish the story in the retelling.

Further up-river, the ruins of Chattanooga were a strange and disturbing sight. The ruins are inhabited by many thousand half-dead shells of people wandering the streets, and attacking passers-by. Thorne and Mr. Dwight studied the area and determined that the whole city was the subject of some twisted arcane ritual, luring spirits into eternal torment within. Exploring the area from the river with the aid of Mr. Dwight’s “cricket”, the center of the ritual turned out to be within the lower levels of the National Bank of Chattanooga. Returning back down-river and speaking with some lingering spirits outside the ruin, Thorne determined the city succumbed to it’s current state some time shortly after The Fall.

Unsure of the wisdom of disturbing such a powerful and lasting effect, the party hid the boat with Justice and Olis in charge of the vessel, while the rest set of to Fort Payne, the nearest Protectorate outpost, in the hopes of getting more information. On the road, the travelers encountered a group of Scavengers under attack from a number of huge hippos—creatures we’d been warned of along our travels. Gabriel and Khiron rushed in to pull the weaker members of the group out of harm’s way, while Thorne used hir’s weird ways to set fire spirits upon the forest canopy and then wipe the memory of a Hippo enraged by Mr. Dwight’s rifle. Thankfully, only one of the guards died in the encounter.

Traveling onto Fort Payne, Mr. Dwight determined that while the exact contents of the bank vault remained unknown, removing a “hazard to navigation” was likely worth the risk, and Thorne was already keen to release so many tormented spirits.

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Tennessee Travels
Olis, Marcel, Gabriel, Khrion

We couldn’t understand because we were too far… and could not remember because we were traveling in the night of first ages, those ages that had gone, leaving hardly a sign… and no memories.

As we had been warned of potential problems at Bakersville, the company pulled up to a small hamlet before to inquire about goings-on and defenses. The locals had little to offer but fish and mentions of spotlights, so it was decided to approach at night by stealth. The travel was slow, with Olis and Marcel pushing the boat along by poling which was greatly aided by a silent device created by Khiron to provide some additional thrust. Just before turning the bend that lead to Bakersville, Gabriel took to the shore and climb up a hill to provide a higher vantage point, and looking down saw that Bakersville itself was under siege. The company decided to take advantage of the distraction and was able to pass by unnoticed by both attackers or defenders.

The next stop, Buckville, turned out to be a substantial trading city. Khiron enjoyed some time in the bazar securing more odds & ends for his tinkering, while the rest of the company enjoyed some land-based fare and a solidly still bed for the night The Harbormaster noted that Nashville might have some interesting salvage which peaked Khiron’s interest, but was the wrong direction for our current travel plans.

The next morning the party set off up river to Savannah, a little river-village that was neither friendly nor as it turned out particularly healthy. Khiron noted that the area was surrounded by ancient holding tanks both near full of ‘old world gasoline’ and leaking slowly into the river. Decided that those downriver should be warned, the party backtracked to inform the Buckville Harbormaster and Mayor, then returned up river careful to avoid any open flames near Savannah.

A few more days up-river brought the company to Pickwick Dam, a fortress of a town that operating still-function water locks that—for a handsome fee—moved boats up above the dam. Another town full of scavengers keep Khiron entertained. Gabriel also noted a odd group of scavengers, which locals said were well-equipped and hailed from Gateway City.

Heading across the great lake behind the dam the next day, the travel was relatively smooth until reaching the outskirts of Huntsville, where the flooded ruins of the town made for slow-going. Spending the night in the company with some local salvaging groups as provided some mutual projection from “feral mankin” that claimed the area as their own.

After a bit more travel, the party put in at Scottsboro. With a few hours of our arrival, however, Ser Marcel, Olis, and Khiron were arrested for a crime they did not commit…

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A different boat narrative
Marcel, Olis, Mr Dwight, Thorne, Gabriel

A pilot, in those days, was the only unfettered and entirely independent human being that lived on the earth.

After the terrible fight to put down the demon infesting “High-Energy Site”, the party returned to Gateway City after handing over the remains of the creature to the Protectorate—thus earning Mr. Dwight an improved reputation which will no doubt sour his mood when they decide he’s the right man for a future job.

Back in Gateway, the party consulted with Professor Cartwright about the next destination to find the remaining items for the quest to create a Portal to return the Aladamere folk home. Cartwright was impressed with the artifacts and information we had recovered to date, and he suggested we check out “Oakridge National Labs” near a town known as Knoxville. While long, the travel would be safest done on a river boat.

Since it not a normal trade-route, the company decided to invest in a vessel of their own, and Mr. Dwight with Khiron’s and Justice’s aid was able to secure the Bessie Bell. Rather than hire a crew, Gabriel and Olis decided to put some time in with another vessel so that they would be better equipped to handle the vessel directly. Mr Dwight offset the price of the boat by offering his services to the shipyard ‘un-cursing’ some troublesome vessels.

Going up that river was like travelling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings. An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest. The air was warm, thick, heavy, sluggish. There was no joy in the brilliance of sunshine. The long stretches of the waterway ran on, deserted, into the gloom of overshadowed distances. On silvery sandbanks hippos and alligators sunned themselves side by side. The broadening waters flowed through a mob of wooded islands; you lost your way on that river as you would in a desert, and butted all day long against shoals, trying to find the channel, till you thought yourself bewitched and cut off forever from everything you had known once somewhere far away in another existence perhaps.

Having little else to do with the few weeks of time while the other members of the party worked on securing the river route, Ser Marcel visited a “gun range” to improve his familiarity with the local arms. After a few hours of training, it was apparent that one of his challenges to date is that he has a melee-man’s vision rather than the eyes of a natural archer. As it turns out, there is a local remedy: corrective eyewear.

Gabriel and Olis returned from their river crewing, and Gabriel in particular took to the role. With Gabriel captaining the vessel, the company made good time up the river stopping at Ledbetter to pay a nominal passage toll and to gain insight into the points further north. The next stop was Bakersville which was likely to be a less friendly and fair exchange…

Never get out of the boat. Absolutely goddamn right. Unless you were goin’ all the way. Kurtz got off the boat. He split from the whole fuckin’ program.

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The Battle of Fort Smith
A battle? A skirmish? Or the opening engagement to something far worse?

The corpses of the Janette’s clones littered the grimy gantries and dirt covered entryway of the one time government facility. The lights flickered in the dust and debris floating through the air; the smell and taste of cordite mingled with the mélange of death. The banshees (for lack of better term) looked shrunken, nearly desiccated as if their efforts drained their very spirit.

Our heroes paused long enough to look at each other over the results of their skill and check on Janette Prime to see if she had any further injuries when a great bellow and crash could be herd from far below the facility. To a man they rushed forward to see what new evil awaited; past the rec room filled with books and tapes of the dead world, past a kitchen with a sandwich waiting for someone who will never eat it, past the cryogenic chamber where the rest of the science team were thawing into death, down into the main chamber of the weapons room.

There they found a disturbing sight; computers smashed, the rail gun disassembled, and the silo opened with a clear indication that some… thing had crawled its way out to the surface. Dwight lead the group in searching the ruins for the grimoire he knew must exist to no avail.

Dr. Armstrong joined them after a spell, and questioning her is how they discovered that the ‘computer’ that ran the facility was anything but your standard electronic gizmo. Instead it was some sort of biological neural construct thingamajig and more impotently, that piece of biological hardware was now missing.

To the surface they dashed, to see what doom awaited them. But no, there was no sign of whatever it was. Off went the Cricket and Khiron in search of who knows what which quickly revealed a giant amalgam of biology and machine trotting toward Potu. Khiron raced off to warn the village while the rest of the group and the good Doctor trotted down the path in pursuit.

The defenders of Potu were valiant, but well decided by the time the group arrived. Khiron helped a bit in the carnage, but he related to the rest that the battle was mostly over once ‘Nana’ became possessed or controlled by the entity and turned her magical furies on her relatives. Potu was deserted, with the controlled survivors riding in a sled behind the walking nightmare on their way to Fort Smith.

So the chase continued.

By the time the group reached Fort Smith, the town had already fallen. Many were killed, but a company of troops and artillery were able to evacuate and set up a line a couple miles to the east, blocking the growing army from heading deeper into the Protectorate setting up a stalemate.

The group found the commander of the Fort Smith blocking force, a lowly lieutenant. Apparently the Major who was in command of the garrison fell in the initial assault as well as the rest of his command staff.

Captain(!) Dwight was able to assume command based on his bonafides as a reservist, allowing for a combined attack against the Demon. The troops and artillery would commence a general assault on the town as our heroes engaged the entity with a combination of attacks, and EMP grenade, a magical Abatement assault, and a hoard of angry spirits commanded by Thorne.

The three pronged assault significantly weakened the Entity, allowing for the direct assault to come off. Khiron ran interference using his grenades and flying armor to assault from various directions, Dwight and Thorn split their arcane efforts between the Entity and Nana, while Olis and Marcel directly engaged the Entity.

In the end they were successful, with the creature destroyed (and perhaps even captured within Thorns walking trunk) and the remaining people of Potu and Fort Smith freed from the entities influence.

The only note of concern was that Khiron noted some sort of rocket which launched from the entity and exploded several hundred feet in the air when it fell, and no one knows that happened to Janette Armstrong.

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The wrong kind of rustic
Mr. Dwight, Khrion, Olis, Gabriel

Having located evidence of where the “ABM” site was south of Fort Smith, the company set off through the overgrown paths and stifling heat. The locals at the Fort had mentioned the village of Potu in the direction we were headed, and Mr. Dwight’s status as an Inquisitor of the Protectorate seemed to be a relief to the folks at the Fort who had heard strange stories of the ‘hicks’.

Noting tracks of some great beast that wasn’t a ‘Jesus lizard’, Gabriel sought to ask Mr. Dwight if he knew what kind of creature could dwell here. He confidently spoke of some tree-swinging monster and the party keep a wary eye up. Alas, Mr. Dwight’s knowledge of such things is limited and he was surprised as the rest as we stumbled onto an “octo-elephant” that took umbrage at our passing. With little cause to kill the creature, Mr. Dwight far-stepped away to safety, Khiron flew away, and Gabriel disappeared into the shadows. Unfortunately, that left Olis. Rather than kill the beast, he tried to jump aside as it charged but ended up thrown back some distance for his pity.

Arriving at the village proved that they were not demon-possessed, but just extremely isolated. The forest around the village was sickly, heavy with beetles and other blighting insects. Mr. Dwight noted that the beetles themselves carried some taint, possibly demonic, but couldn’t be sure. The source he felt was definitely up in the mountains where the “ABM” site lay in wait. The wise-woman of the village spoke of dark dreams, and something dreadful in the pits below the ground awaking.

Resting the night in Potu, the party set off through the blighted forest. There were no animals or birds, just insects. Mr. Dwight’s sense lead up to a buried structure. Gabriel noted that the whole area had been turned over by hordes of insects coming in and out of the structure. Digging down to a door, an old screen lit up and a woman spoke

She introduced herself as Janette Armstrong, and spoke of many ancient things. The insects were her work, but insisted it was done with care. Mr. Dwight pressed her to ask that we come and see if her work had been subverted without her knowledge. The company was let in and led to a ‘conference’ room where there were three identical women. Her story made little sense to some, but apparently she and her companions had been sleeping since the Fall, and she was the only one awake. She was using the ancients systems to coordinate many copies of herself and “generic engineering” to gather energy from the forest with insects of her creation.

What became apparently quickly was that her perceptions of the outside world were an illusion. She thought that the insects had careful pruned the forest per her instructions instead of laying waste to the surroundings. When Mr. Dwight and Khrion took her outside, she still didn’t perceive the world as it was. Mr. Dwight put up a ward to block out the influence of her ‘wifi’ and she immediately passed out. That’s when all hell broke loose.

Olis and Gabriel fought a pitch battle with three of the ‘clones’ who exhibited demonic powers and traits as they fought. Mr. Dwight and Khiron tried to wake the woman with little effect, then joined the fray along with the remaining ‘clones’. All pretense of a peaceful resolution as destroyed and the company had to put down four of the six Janette’s, only to hear the demon below rising in response.

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Through the looking glass
Olis, Mr. Dwight, Khiron, Gabriel

The strange events at Mt. Tabor took some time to piece together. The “etheric device” laid waste to the mountain and the nearby village, and threw the company out of time. When the dust settled, a year had past in a matter of minutes.

Making their way out of the wreckage and returning to Gateway City (mostly by foot), the company found that Justuss had assumed us dead, and collected the reward for the Raptor Egg for himself. He had kept Mr. Dwight’s belongings safe and his affairs in order, so there were no hard feelings beyond the usual grumblings and threats.

After a week or so of recovery, rest, and Khiron getting his own affairs back in order, the party decided to head back in search of the “ABM” site. On the way to Little Rock, Mr. Dwight was ordered to report to his superiors in Jackson. The detour proved informative, but Mr. Dwight talked his way out of taking on the Protectorates’ current crises and the company continued to Fort Smith.

From the strange map we had discovered, we knew the “ABM” site was somewhere in the area, but with hundreds of miles of wilderness to search it seemed a challenging task. Olis’ attempt to gather information from the local children landed him in jail, while Gabriel’s attempt almost landed him in bed with a lonely trapper. In the end, Khiron’s tinkering combined with Mr. Dwight’s magic located the site in a matter of hours. Getting there, however, was another matter…

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Mount Tabor Go Boom
As recounted by Mr. E. Dwight

The words of the bear trapper didn’t necessarily fill me with delight. The local despot, Lord Sticks, only came down from his mountain fortress for the Bi-Annual Virgin Sacrifice, or some shit. He pretty much had the locals well under his thumb and no one had ever ventured into Mount Tabor. It sounded like this was going to be a tough nut to crack – if we could crack it at all. And given that there were bound to be local snitches and even loyalists, informing all and sundry of our presence seemed like a bad idea. We didn’t reckon we would have much success charming him none. So a thorough reconnaissance, from a distance and without alerting the locals was recommended and agreed upon.

The Noisy Cricket showed us a pretty tight looking affair: one of them big ol’ blast door type things – not exactly something we could bust down with our puny firepower. Khiron went up to provide a better perspective. He wasn’t gone but an hour when he reported back finding something interesting out in the woods on the eastern slope of Mount Tabor. He was able to guide us overland through the vines and the briars. Thankfully, even Thorne was in good shape due to all our pounding through the weeds over the last couple of months.

The interesting thing turned out to be some sort of large concrete pad with weird bent over plastic pipes coming up at the corners. Fuck if we could figure out what it was. Damned Ancients and their cryptic crap. But some poking around the weeds did turn up a metal hatch – thanks again to Khiron and his nose for things out of place. It was just as well, Gabby, our erstwhile scout, was laid-up with some sort of gut bug and barely able to keep up with us (not that he had been much of a help of late). After some prodding, speculating, and magical scrying (by Thorne and Myself), we concluded that the hatch could only be some sort of long forgotten escape route out of the bowels of the Mount Tabor complex. Hot damn! I think these Aldemari are some kind of lucky charm.

With some effort we were able to spring the hatch – it opened into a long dark and musty shaft that seemed to drop into the very depths of the mountain. I sent down the Cricket: ladder rungs all the way down and some sort of security door at the bottom. Well fuck, down we went. The security door proved to be impervious to our usual magical means of entry (blast the fuck out of it!). Thorne however was able to provide some spiritual ghost hackery to get us through. Damned convenient. He or she is a spooky motherfucker most of the time and usually about as reliable as fuck-all (something I often ask Marcel: How long has he been putting up with this?) – but sometimes she manages to pull one out. Case in point.

The tunnel beyond the security door led to a much disused hatch into the main giggery-pokery power chamber of the site – complete with a window in the door. Who the fuck does that? The chamber beyond was pretty damned impressive. Lots of Ancient artifacts and machinery all centered on some sort of etheric flux capacitor – which according to Thorne, Lord Sticks was using to repeatedly shred ghosts. Apparently that is bad. Our suspicion was that he was doing it to prolong his life. Initially we could see him in the center of the etheric flow and when he emerged he looked brand-spanking new. There also seemed to be some sort of vampire manning the controls. Thorne was not taking the whole ghost killing/un-killing thing well and insisted we needed to stop it right fucking now. The rest of us were a bit more cautious – Lord Sticks looked pretty bad ass and who knew how powerful the vampire was or how many minions were close by. Many plans were discussed and discarded with the usual amount of despair and deconstruction.

While we were plotting we noticed that Lord Sticks and his vampy had left the chamber on some errand. The hatch into the chamber wasn’t alarmed or hatched – for whatever reason – so we rolled in. The first order of business was closing the really huge blast door that led to the rest of the complex…which turned out to be simply accomplished. With that done we had free range of the power chamber and all the high energy machinery within. Thorne and Khiron quickly moved to secure the control booth and shut down the etheric-spirit gizmo. I was left to toy with the gadgetry in the center of the chamber. Thorne summoned up one of her spirit friends to “hack” the control booth. Which enabled her to shut down the spirit shredder. While Thorne was attempting to communicate with the post-shredded spirits, weird stuff started to go down in the main chamber. With the etheric-spiritual flows stopped, the local “screens” flashed gibberish asking if the Standard Restart Sequence should be started. Seemed like a good idea – I pressed the YES button. The fucking shit storm commenced.

I’ve seen some weird shit. Not “ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion” level of shit. But definitely near-Biblical level weirdness. This fucking pegged the meter.

I’m not even sure I can accurately describe what happened. But quite suddenly we didn’t seem to be under Mount Tabor any more.

At first we were amid a hall of chanting skeletons.

THEN

A large glass walled room with a huge ass dragon, lots of glass and shiny metal in the background.

THEN

A grungy-greasy industrial chamber with a window to the stars. They were shouting about “a singularity containment failure in the electro-gravitic drive”.

THEN

Back to Mount Tabor wrecked to hell – but five years from when we had left.

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Gabriel's very bad, no good day
Ser Marcel, Olis, Gabriel, Khiron, Mr. Dwight

After months in this weird and unfamiliar landscape full of “rads” this and “etheric” that, Gabriel was really looking forward to the next phase of the quest for a return to Aldamere. Only a few unpleasant hours riding in “The Beast”, then finally a long trek on foot. Gabriel had spent many years walking forest paths and game-trails, and at last Ser Marcel’s men in the company of Mr. Dwight and Khiron were setting off on an honest-to-goodness hike. Quietly Gabriel also hoped to set Mr Dwight straight about his scouting prowess in the woods. Alas, this luck turned sour quickly.

Upon encountering “Prospector Pete” on the trail, the party paused to determine how best to deal with a monstrous lizard/bird creature that lay ahead—Justuss had always insisted they were called “Jesus Lizards” for no apparent reason. In any case, when the suggestion was made to bait the creature away as the party passed, Gabriel set off to hunt down a deer confident in hunter’s training. After many hours of finding little game-sign, he finally set sights on a deer, even if it was a little scrawny and perhaps ill, and let loose with his bow to bring it down.

Meanwhile, the party was gathering supplies to craft some sort of hobbling trap, when the creature let off into the forest, leaving the path clear. The company contacted Gabriel via one of Khiron’s contraptions, and informed him of the good news. It seemed, that the silent shot failed to pierce the throat of the creature which let out a terrible death-rattle which had caught the huge beast’s attention. He quickly realized that he was now the hunted. With some quick action, and a little aid of the fallen deer carcass which he had no time to do more than throw off in the other direction, the party was able to evade the monster. Putting the incident behind them, the company continued on the trek.

Some ways later the party encountered a strange object, a yellow ball sitting atop a pike in the ground, which seemed to repel animals and keep them away from the area. Realizing the day was growing dark, and signs of smoke across the valley, the Gabriel set off to find a suitable stealthy camp for the party to wait out the night. Again, his luck was sour and he was unable to locate anything suitable in the area, only to have Mr. Dwight note that he was standing on a half-buried hatch right beneath his feet.

Exploring within the company found the entrance way to a survival shelter built into the mountain. The wall had apparently collapsed, blocking further entrance so the party settled down their beds in the cave. In the middle of the night, Olis was attacked by something within the deep mounds of earth. With Mr. Dwight’s magics, the party discovered and engaged some kind of ‘mole-men’ with the power to move the earth at their will. The enemies proved to be skilled ambushers, filling the area with a rain of stone, dirt, and debris. Mr. Dwight was able to shield much of the party with his wards, but alas Gabriel had stepped closer to fire his shotgun and was by chance beyond the protection for another onslaught. Ser Marcel and Olis engaged several at close range, Khrion and Mr. Dwight took them at range, and Gabriel tried to keep from becoming a casualty.

In the aftermath, the party found a supply of “energy bars” by Master Clif, and a role of “Duct Tape” which pleased Mr. Dwight to no end. Taking refuge in the shelter proper, the party was able to recover and recoup before pressing on their journey. Gabriel had disquieting dreams of Saints sitting in judgement as the sound of Mr. Dwight’s laughter drifted through his mind.

Heading down into the forested valley, Gabriel set off to scout out a way around the large lake or find the signs of a boat. By the time the party caught up, Gabriel had been snared by a bear trap set by a local hunter. Mr. Dwight’s delighted scorn was as unpleasant as the day before had been long.

None-the-less, the party did learn from the huntsman some of the town and the “Lord Sticks” who apparently claimed domain over the Lake Tabor area and dwelled within the ancient “High Energy Physics” research area the company was seeking…

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