Chronicles of Khaldun: Crux of Eternity

Expedition to the Black Moor, Part 6

Freeday, Reaping 21, 552 CY (50 AN)

Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, Peren, Valna, and their ally R-66Y look around and find that James is now missing. Shrugging and determining that this might be natural behavior for the ghost, they decide to use the lift to descend into the biodome control center.

The center is dank, humid, and warm, like the inside of some creature. Everything is coated with a hard resin, and Peren manages to determine that it is organic — probably secreted by something in the manner of spider silk. The Shields start taking positions, and something moves into the range of Bezaldooz’s sunrod — mounds. Four of them, and one of the party sees tiny, cross-hatched seams on them with movement inside. They assume they’re eggsacs. Peren and R-66Y step into some sort of side room, and as Peren reaches the far doorway and peers into darkness, he hears nothing. He glances to the side, and looks into the dark again to see that something has dropped in front of him. Before he gets a clear look at it, he pinwheels back fifteen feet and the creature skitters off into the darkness.

Whatever it was, it was roughly the height of a man, with a dull, grey carapace roughly the shade and texture of the resin walls. No eyes were visible in its featureless cranium, but its teeth and stinging tail were quite visible.

A second sunrod is thrown into the middle of the room, and the Shields of the Sorrowfell get to work. While the magicians take care of the eggsacs, Peren and R-66Y go to confront the hiding creature.

They are highly effective. By the time the eggs have been destroyed, the creature has been battered and knocked to the ground, prevented from effectively attacking. Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, and Valna begin slinging spells and using the strange artefacts they have been finding in ruins. The creature fights viciously — lashing out with its stinger, biting with its powerful jaws, and even spitting acid — but the creature has difficulty overpowering its attackers. Strangely, at one point it is poised to spit acid in Peren’s eyes, and though it manages to succeed, it is mostly deflected by a shadowy force that envelops Peren. The fight finishes quickly, as the creature runs after Bezaldooz and renders him unconscious with its poisoned stinger. That moment’s distraction is all the other Shields need, and they manage to kill the creature and revive their comrade.

The group makes a sweep of the area, and finding no other creatures, they manage to scrounge some equipment and reactivate the elevator system. They return to the lift and the building above.

On the lift, Peren reflects on the moment when the acid was partially deflected. Wracking his brain, he knows it was magical and he knows that was a partial demon summoning. He decides to keep that information under his hat, as he doesn’t much care so long as it helped him.

Bosabrieln is a little more concerned, but also says nothing. He plans on speaking to Valna later.

When the group arrives in the research station, they hear a noise in the rooms off to the left. Peren and R-66Y are first, and find a strange sight — a golden creature with eight legs appears to be rooting around in some of the equipment. Peren recognizes it as an aurumvorax, colloquially known as “the golden gorger” — vicious little beasts, they are fearless attackers and are so named because of their heavy diet of precious metals. Given the fact that it’s native, he surmises that it probably made its way into the ruins, looking for gold. He also recognizes the creature’s pelt as being worth several thousand gold pieces. As a distraction, he throws his gold pouch (containing only 17 gold pieces) in the corner and the creature rushes over and downs it in a single gulp. As it does so, Bosabrieln and Valna take positions in the room while Bezaldooz stands outside. Peren and R-66Y corner the thing and begin entering into melee with the savage beast, when suddenly it goes flying across the room — summoned by the attractive power of Valna’s alien gravity hammer. She slams it with the alien device and the force knocks both of them to the ground, but the brutal strike only enrages the beast, prompting it to latch into her thigh and claw her until she passes out from shock. Fortunately, the others make short work of the creature and manage to revive her before she bleeds out.

The group retrieves some more strange technology from the panel in which the aurumvorax was digging, and then takes a brief rest before Peren sets about the bloody work of skinning the thing. Bosabrieln asks Valna to accompany him to check something out, and proceeds to speak to her about what he saw — some manner of demonic influence interposed itself between Peren and the alien creature, absorbing some of the acidic spit headed his way. Bosabrieln does not mind his reverence of the Raven Queen, but he is disturbed by that in tandem with any sort of demonic influence. They decide to watch him more closely.

During this, Peren’s sharp ears determine the jist of their conversation. For his part, surmising that neither Bosabrieln nor Valna cast whatever arcane influence summoned a demon’s protection, he supposes that leaves only one suspect whom cast the spell.

He deigns to remain silent on the matter.

Before returning, Bosabrieln musses Valna’s hair to make it seem like they weren’t talking. After a few catcalls upon their return, the Shields determine that this is the most defensible location they are likely to find for a while. As such, they decide to rest here.

The next day, they awaken and prepare to return to the lift system. Peren unsuccessfully attempts to catch one of the rabbit-creatures flitting about, but is unsuccessful; R-66Y and Valna immediately decide to show him up by catching some on his behalf. He keeps the pelts and prepares the meat for jerky before the Shields disembark.

They manage to find their way back to the doorway and the lift. The Voice treats them to what is apparently several versions of the same song overlayed, and directs them to the “Holodeck” for “The Post-Civilization Collapse Survival Training Initiative.” They decide to go straight to the central computer room, but finding it locked and the keypad broken, they determine that they will have to follow the computer’s directions and backtrack to the holodeck.

The Shields find a room of glowing, green gridlines. As they enter, the scene changes to that of a strange, paved street surrounded by incredibly tall buildings made of strange materials. It is obviously some sort of city, but it is abandoned and alien to them, although R-66Y recognizes a ruined post-apocalyptic human city when he sees one.

Suddenly, the group hears a revving motor and looks down the street to see…themselves. Five people stand roughly 100 feet away, and despite their strange arms and armor, they are clearly recognizable as Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, Peren, Torinn, and Valna.

R-66Y runs to take cover behind a wrecked automobile. unTorinn (as the Shields take to calling him) rushes to meet him, and they tangle in melee while Bezaldooz launches a fireball across the battlefield, catching unBezaldooz, unPeren, and unValna. As everyone scatters for cover, unBezaldooz returns the favor. Peren pinwheels out of the way, fires his scavenged plasma rifle at unPeren, and sprints down the street to charge him. He manages to evade, but Peren catches unBezaldooz instead.

The melee continues. unPeren falls first, followed by unValna, as unBezaldooz and unBosabrieln attempt to fling spells from cover. unTorinn is interrupted from tangling with R-66Y as Valna activates her gravity hammer, pulling him twenty feet and crashing into him, the shockwave sending them both violently hurtling to the ground. In seconds, unTorinn on his feet again, winding up his sledgehammer for a mighty blow. He brings it down on the supine Valna’s chest, although she manages to catch the haft and divert what could have been a fatal blow. unTorinn is swiftly overwhelmed, and R-66Y targets unBezaldooz and unBosabrieln with a psychic attack that binds them together. Even though unBezaldooz currently floats above the battlefield, Peren is able to slay him by attacking unBosabrieln, allowing the psychic shock to overload and destroy unBezaldooz.

unBosabrieln runs into a nearby abandoned building, and Bosabrieln runs after him, complementing him on his coat before laying him low with spells. As unBosabrieln falls, the room fades back into the green gridline pattern. A panel opens, revealing more pieces of eldritch technologies within. As the group gathers themselves again, the Voice announces a power drain in the teleportation chamber, suggesting that they investigate and further indicating that this investigation will lead them to another combat.

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