In The Key of Time IV

The Rotor chamber smelt of ozone and was covered in dust. Harrylock decided to go back to the hospital; to check on Talia-5 and Lorn. They all went up to the control chamber. Judson was still sitting in front of the panel; however, at the north end, there was now a device. A flat slab of synth; above it were five unsupported vertical rings. A blue-white energy field filled the space between the rings; inside the field was the body of Varenis Illoba. Two large insectoid creatures were trying to get at the body …

“Did you touch anything?” called Galadiir to Judson, glancing at the position of the sliders, which were now set at 14 “No”, replied Judson, “So where did that and those come from?”

Harrylock readied his heavy crossbow and shot the nearest creature. The arrow sank into it and with a hiss it rippled out of sight.*

“Great, “said Sonny. “They can turn invisible.” Just then, three of the things rippled into being right next to them and attacked with their crushing mandibles. Galadiir used his Ice Onslaught whilst Sonny electrically charged up his verred. The creatures took some damage and rippled out again. Another rippled in next to Harrylock and two others appeared next to Sonny. Judson struck at the one nearest to him and Harrylock pulled back to join the others. Three creatures appeared and attacked Harrylock, hurting him**. More of the creatures rippled in, they turned and ran towards the ‘tomb’. Harrylock was the last; a creature appeared behind him and struck, he took some damage but was knocked forward on to the ‘tomb’.

There was an intense blue-white flash.

When their sight returned, they were standing by the ‘tomb’. The room was dark and smelt of damp earth, overlaid with a faint smell of burning. The ‘tomb’ was dark; there was no energy field and no body. Two of the rings were smashed and broken.

“The future?” hazarded Judson, “or the past?”

“No no, “said Galadiir. “In the past it was all brand new. We are in the future”. He glanced to one side, past where Harrylock was clutching his head, at the slider panel. “Let’s see what the sliders are set at.”

At this point two Chronal Feeders rippled in, dragging a screaming Aeon Priest. They crossed the chamber and rippled out. The glimmer faded and they were back by the ‘tomb’ containing the body of Varenis Ilobar. Harrylock was still clutching his head.

“My head hurts inside”. “It’s because you’re not used to getting hurt”***

Sonny sat down by the ‘tomb’ and started to examine it; helped by Galadiir and his reference work on numenera. They decided that Varenis was somehow ‘stopped’ in time and also that it would be a BAD THING to mess with the ‘tomb’. There did not seem to be any obvious way of shutting it down.

“So how does he get out?”

Following a long and involved discussion as to the nature of time travel*** and a short rest they decided to explore some more of the complex. From the chamber containing the Time Rotor they went N; finding, as they expected, another curved room with a slider panel. The sliders were set at 00. On top of the panel was a mug with a switch in the handle; it could be made to heat liquids or chill them. Galadiir tested it on the can of drink he’d got out of the vending machine. A passage led north.

They decided to split up; Galadiir and Harrylock went back through the Time Rotor and investigated the south ramp sloping up, whilst Judson and Sonny went to speak to Kitchener*****

As they suspected, the S ramp led to another curved chamber with a slider panel. There was a human figure here, examining the panel. He turned as they entered. It was an Aeon Priest.

“Greetings to you. What do you think this does? These sliders move to different settings but appear to do nothing.”

“You haven’t moved them have you?” Galadiir grew up amongst Aeon Priests and so was careful to use all the correct prefixes and honorifics.

“Who are you? You did not come with us. Did Tevarus send you to find us?”

“You say us? Are you not alone?”

“I am Holgar, Seeker of the Truth. My companion Kappad went to find a route back to the entrance. We came as a group under the leadership of Tevarus. My companion Kappad and myself have been exploring; Kappad has returned to bring the others.

“What year is it? What is your year?”

“Why, ten-fifteen of course.”

Galadiir and Harrylock glanced at each other and Galadiir spoke.

“This whole area is a time machine and we are travelling through time. Out there (he gestured at a wall), it may not be ten-fifteen at all.

“Hmm, very Interesting. It will be a challenge to complete …”

Holgar was cut short as a clump of Chronal Feeders rippled in. Two of them grabbed him in their mandibles and he was dragged off screaming as they rippled out. A third one tried to grab Galadiir but he managed to avoid it and it vanished.

Meanwhile, Judson and Sonny went back to the Philethis, it stood as before, surrounded by three dull-green glowing cylinders. Again, the voice that bypassed their ears.

"You do not understand. But you will..."

“What do you mean!” called Sonny.

"Understanding is a three edged sword. Your side, their side and the truth."

“I don’t think this guy is ever going to say something sensible”

Deciding to return to the conference chamber where they met the technicians, they were a bit disconcerted to find that that passage wasn’t there; as if it had never existed. There was a passage N and a new passage S. They went N, surmising that it should lead back to the octagonal chamber with the Portal. It did, although as they approached they became aware of a smell, a foul stench that got worse as they approached the chamber. The chamber was there; the shrine was bare apart for a single small statuette lying on its side, covered in dust. The Portal was malfunctioning; the black field was flickering and fading intermittently. In the chamber were six warriors, clad in unusual armour and carrying long thin swords of an unfamiliar design. Although they appeared corpse-like and long dead; there was no mistaking the deadly purpose in which they drew their swords and prepared to attack.

“I think we’re in trouble.”

To be continued…

GM Notes
* Chronal Feeders, although no-one recognised them.
** Harrylock isn’t used to getting hurt!
*** And gets no sympathy from those who are
**** I couldn’t follow most of this, but there were some interesting theories about causality and paradoxes.
***** They named the Philethis ‘Kitchener’ after the Great War recruiting poster, because he always seemed to be looking at you.

The Wayfarers are having such a good time in this Game; it is a good blend of combat and weirdness. It is fun to watch Galadiir (Matt) attempting to map the complex – he hasn’t yet worked out that it is mapped out on a tesseract (which was and is a bit of a brain-burner to interpret.)
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