The City in Shadow - I
After their surreal experience in Xuanicli, the Wayfarers decided to find somewhere relatively normal to rest for a few days. They headed west and, on 10th Prevaen, came upon a town called Codun. The town was busy as the final of the Rukomol racing season was being held. Rukomol are huge biomechanical insects; ridden by a team of two riders.
** SPOILER ALERT! **
This is a published adventure, out of ‘Weird Discoveries.’ I think that it ran differently enough (due to the ‘flex-keying’ system); I will endeavour not to reveal any hidden spoilers (unless they were my own). *
In Codun, the Wayfarers rested and Harrylock found a repair shop that catered for the Rukomol trainers. He picked up some more bits and had Sonny help install them. ** They decided to have a day out at the Rukomol races; the cost was two shins to enter and one shin for food and drink. It all came down to the final race; Galadiir bet three shins on Rukomol Number Six, ridden by Ruko Uolis and Ruko Tallek. The others spread their bets around; however Number Six was the favourite and won easily. *** Galadiir won thirty shins. He also got to meet Uolis, who invited him and the others back to his house for a celebration.
Uolis had been a Rukomol rider for most of his life and was open, honest and generous. Number Six was his best beast though and he was considering retiring; having made a lot of money in his career. Sometime during the party, there was a commotion outside. They all crowded outside to see a sparkling, luminous blue mist receding down the street and into the distance.
The following morning, at their hotel, they were awakened by a hammering at the door. It was Uolis.
“Come quickly! Something terrible has happened.”
Out at the Rukomol stables, several of the beasts were missing, including Number Six. All that was left was a single severed leg.
Judson used his tracking skill to examine the ground; while Galadiir questioned Uolis and Tallek. Neither of them knew of any sworn enemies; overall the Rukomol racing circuit is small and relatively friendly. Judson found no tracks; it was if the ground had been swept clean by a giant brush. Sonny examined the leg; it had been severed cleanly. Suddenly it jumped up and began hopping on the spot. It started to hop off to the south-east; pausing at times to allow them to catch up.
“Go, follow it”, said Uolis. “Bring back Number Six and the others. If you do, I will buy you a house.
“A house? Where?”
“Here, in Codun.”
Galadiir spoke to the others. “It would be good to have a base, somewhere we could call home.”
For a day and a half the leg hopped south-east and the Wayfarers followed it. The wind blew cold; they were approaching the Cold Desert. Finally, ahead they saw a black pyramid; as they drew closer they saw it was floating in the air above a ruined city; the city was completely in the shadow of the pyramid. The leg stopped at the corner of the north-west wall and fell over, inert. There were two ways into the city; from the north or the west. Judson and Harrylock west into the west entrance; Sonny and Galadiir went into the north entrance. ****
They quickly found that the buildings of the city were not roofed; and that it was dark under the shadow of the pyramid; despite the sunlight outside. Sensing that the whole thing was a labyrinth of twisting walls and islands; Judson and Harrylock climbed up on the wall and looked over the city. Eighty feet above them was the black, featureless underside of the pyramid. Suddenly the wall gave way beneath their feet and they landed in a courtyard. There was only one exit, and that was blocked by a huge reptilian form; a lizard with a huge maw and a red hexagonal crystal set in its forehead. The creature hissed; stalked forward and an invisible hand of force threw Harrylock into the far wall …
Galadiir and Sonny entered from the north and found themselves in a twisting labyrinth of passages, chambers and dead ends. Many of the areas had remains of furnishings, stone chairs and tables and odd, abstract carvings. Eventually they found a chamber, draped over a stone bench were three bodies. They were human, it was not clear what had killed them, but tiny green lizards were swarming all over them. A search revealed three explorers packs from which Galadiir took three working glowglobes and Sonny took the three lengths of rope. They also found a piece of scrip with a drawing of a round object with several thin lines coming out of it at different angles. A scribbled note said “use this to open the door.” There was nothing else in the packs of any use, other than a small green ball that Galadiir took. After a short time they came into a large central square, directly under the centre of the pyramid. Here stood a tall shiny cylinder, Galadiir determined that it was numenera but there was no way to open it.
Harrylock shook his head and picked himself up; Judson readied his bow and shot an arrow at the beast, which missed. The creature opened its mouth and went after Judson, who pulled his verred and struck a blow at the creatures head, aiming for the crystal. He hit the creature and found that it had quite tough skin.
“Run!” he yelled to Harrylock. “It’s too tough for us to fight”.
“Where to? There’s only one exit and that thing’s in the way”.
“Go through the wall. Break it down. You’re good at smashing things”.
Harrylock turned and punched the wall with all his might; it teetered and, with a roar and cloud of dust, collapsed on top of him. Judson was bitten by the creature, he backed off and shot an arrow at it. It was an exceptionally bad shot; the arrow deflected off something and hit his shoulder. He ran back to Harrylock and helped pull him from the rubble; the beast took a final bite as they ran.
“Hee Hee”, came a cackling voice. “He’s got the taste of you now”.
Back in the centre square, Galadiir and Sonny were still trying to open the silver cylinder, but to no avail. Galadiir kicked at it; the green ball sprang out of his pocket; hovered in front of his face and whistled; then returned to his pocket. Sonny examined the nearest tower; it was built of solid stone and was about forty feet high. There didn’t seem to be an obvious way of getting to the top. Sonny prepared to use his Bolt Rider esotery to travel up to the top of the tower when a noise disturbed them. Crawling into the square was a huge reptilian creature with a red hexagonal crystal set in its forehead.
Galadiir’s first thought was to use his Stasis esotery on it; a foolish thought as the creature was at least twelve feet long. Instead, he used his Ice Onslaught esotery; he messed it up really badly and engulfed himself in the ice cloud. The creature hissed and looked at Sonny. An invisible hand of force picked him up and threw him backwards against the wall of the tower. Galadiir pulled his ice blade and moved in to attack. The creature turned on him; Galadiir managed to dodge the attack. Sonny dived forward and charged up his verred, he struck deep, the creature roared, turned and again Sonny was hurled backwards into the wall.
“I can’t take much more of this damage”, he thought.
Judson and Harrylock stared at the apparition in front of them. It appeared to be a bag of rags with long straggly hair; a longer look revealed that it was a woman, with wild staring eyes. She was chewing on one of the green lizards. She was babbling and chanting lots of things; Judson tried to make sense of it. Harrylock got a little more forceful and the woman shot him with a dart from her fingertip.
“Lyra didn’t like that”
Finally they gathered that the crystal in the lizard’s forehead was something they needed. They left her cackling away and set off to find the others. The last coherent thing she said was “don’t forget to unlock the door”.
They followed the sound of fighting to the central square in time to see Sonny, battered and bruised, struggling to his feet and Galadiir trying to hold off the creature with his ice blade. Harrylock and Judson ran forward and gave it a one-two; finally the creature rolled over, dead.
They rested for a time; then Judson noticed that the corpse was being attacked by a swarm of the green lizards. He ran over and excised the red gem from its head. Galadiir examined it; it could be made to project a beam of force that lifted things into the air ***** They used the crystal to get to the top of the tower, Sonny followed, carrying the crystal, by using his Bolt Rider esotery.
To be continued ….
* I liked the adventure and the ‘Show Em’ pictures. I didn’t like the map itself; I find it difficult to describe dungeon passages and rooms to the players without their eyes glazing over. Nice maps are all well and good; but only the GM sees them. I use a nodal system of areas linked by connectors (of various kinds); something I’ve done for 20+ years as a GM. I redrew the map into my own style.
** Harrylock now has stats M30/1, S15/1, I7/0 (!)
*** A simple race system of six markers moving along a track by a die roll, the favourite got a bonus. He could have lost!
**** AARRGH! Yet again, they have split the party up! Someday, they are going to run across something they can’t handle.
***** He actually found this by accident; he was thrown forty feet into the air. Sonny was able to catch him as he fell.