Monday, December 12, 2016

A Fitting End

The story started without any freakish abominations but with time evolved. If you remember our last campaign session, ended with Eckehard being eviscerated, (Gryres). But before all that, we had to reboot the campaign. It started with Eckehard the dhampir, Camilla the creature, and ‘Coco-bean’ the Magpie. They hadn’t yet met two of our current party members, Alia the wizard and Trafalgalard the half blood until Eckehard woke in an underground cell and Camilla and Coco had found themselves in a daze outside the town of Kine, traveling with two residents they knew to be dead (in fact, Eckehard had killed them in the first part of the adventure).

This was the Lord Silver campaign. The Silvers were a prominent family with a history stretching back to the once Masters of the realm– and apparently, it was just beginning to catch up to them. The town was plagued with disease and the town’s inhabitants were unwilling to confide in us. We had never really gotten to the bottom of that story arc, but after a long break and the introduction of the two new players, the story restarted with a twist. Apparently, a mysterious man named Doctor Nylor had entered the story in our absence and became the center of a whole new mess of problems for the town– beginning with the Silvers, who had apparently disappeared. Fast forward a few sessions and we find ourselves in a place outside the Material Plane. This ‘complex’ seemed to consist of micro universes, connected by portals and made to look like the natural habitats of those creatures imprisoned within them. One of the first we came to, was home to a little girl named Elizabeth, who was not only from the Free Realm, but the Free Realm of hundreds of years ago. Next, we entered a room with a Gwyllion, who apparently had just given birth but had her child stripped from her. There was also a room with a sentient tree, one with a crow, and a room that entered into outer space (which nearly killed Eckehard). We had ended with Eckehard going off alone to the room with a crow. There he had found a portal covered in an opaque sheen (which later turned out to be a Gryre– that's what Eckehard gets for trying to punch his way through the portal).

After his near-death experience and being rescued by the party, Eckehard returned to the Gwyllion’s pool to heal when a gnome woman named Blondwine entered. The gnome had apparently been freely traveling the prison and excitedly shared her findings with us. She had also drawn a map. Not long after, a second Blondwine entered the room. She was an exact duplicate. This led to all sorts of confusion and a short trip to a location marked ‘Storage’ on the map.  From the ‘Storage’ area, Eckehard found and examined a suit of armor that seemed to fluctuate as he stared at it. Not only did it evoke nausea, it also appeared to change size. In fact, to a point that it fit him. Then with some hesitation, Eckehard donned the fluctuating armor as a replacement for his broken mail (from the encounter with the Gryre). In the meantime, Blondwine left to explore the unlabeled room with a milky white portal (that she wouldn’t shut up about). We, on the other hand, decide to go to the part of the map labeled Troll– after all, it was a creature many of us had only heard stories about.

When we enter said room, Doctor Nylor is standing with two minions under an apparatus simultaneously holding the troll down and examining it. Without skipping a beat, Eckehard (who has already experience a number of enerving experiences with Doctor Nylor) with outward calm (and inward fear) made his way to Doctor Nylor but didn't get far. The precocious Alia suddenly summoned a fireball that whizzed by Eckehard and consumed not only the equipment, but also freed the troll, revealing Doctor Nylor in all his glory as an abomination wreathed in flames. When the fire cleared, a horror with many bulging eyes and gnashing teeth appeared in the good doctor's place, covering the waking troll (and perhaps holding it down). Being the closest, Eckehard quickly mounted the abomination and slashed it open, splitting it down the middle before it suddenly broke into a dozen fleeing blobs. The party shot at each of them with fire and arrows to prevent the fractured Nylor from escaping, while the troll in one fluid motion snatched a blob, froze it, and crushed it in its massive hand. Then with utmost clarity of thought, the troll stood up and scooped Coco off the ground as she made her way to the portal and in an all-out sprint rushed towards Eckehard who was standing between an exit and 4 of the horrors that were fleeing towards it. Eckehard managed to destroy the first horror but was then quickly dragged through the portal by the remaining three blobs.

In this new room (marked griffin on the map; also a creature of myth) is a peculiar place where all who enter are overcome with the sensation of being unable to move anywhere other than diagonally. Trafalgalard, who enters shortly after Eckehard, immediately falls from the diagonal and suddenly causes the griffin to appear as a writhing snake beast. Alia and Trafalgalard then burst through the portal and take out the other horrors before turning on the remaining one grappled with Eckehard. The beast then seems to let out a sigh and the echoing voice of Nylor is heard from all around, “Kill me and the knowledge is lost,” to which Coco answers by shattering it with a spell, thereby killing the good doctor.

But then the light in the room immediately quashes and there’s pitch darkness except for the pulsating glow of the portals. The room then begins cracking and the griffin panicks, cracking the world further. Eckehard immediately bolts from the room (to many an outcry from the players– a lot of shade is thrown Eckehard's way), while Alia casts a light spell. The room is being torn apart and everyone begins moving to the portal, except the troll, who is crouched with both hands on the ground and chanting ‘It's only stone, it's only stone’ as his magic permeates the floor, seemingly holding it together. Eckehard meanwhile is bolting through the portals from the crow's room to the tree which is now lit and floating above the floor to the fiend child's abandoned room. All the rooms were as pitch and they were all beginning to crack. The portals were pulsating more infrequently and becoming increasing faint. Three rooms later Eckehard returns to the room he was looking for. Elizabeth, the fiend child and the now sickly Gwyllion are curled up in a dark and cold pool. He immediately sweeps her and the Gwyllion up and moves to the room he had entered from and then another. He knew he wouldn't make it back to the crow's room (where he believed there was an exit). Instead, he returns to the first room (next to the fiend's). The one they had first entered the complex from.

It was now cracked and separated from reality by a gap in literal space. He can see that there's no time. The room is now broken and the ledge which led back to the Material Plane is thirty feet from the underground temple on the other side- but there is no time to stop and think, Eckehard runs and leeps. Somehow, despite the incredible distance, Eckehard is drawn to the crack in the underground temple as if its gravity was pulling him towards it. The armor also seems to respond to his will and aids him in traversing the gap (later my GM said, "Thank god you put it on"). As we were floating in space the jolt from the movement frees Elizabeth from his arms. Eckehard then reached for her, making his check to grab her but in the process loses his grip on the Gwyllion who slips into the nothingness, wherein the darkness there are many eyes, revealing creatures blinking into and out of existence. Our GM finishes the scene with the Gwyllion’s expression turning to one of comfort, she then smiles, and a translucent beast appears from the black swallows her whole, then fades away.

When Eckehard hits the ledge on the other side he doesn't miss a stride. He puts as much distance from the shattering complex and infinite space to the familiar tunnels below the temple. Meanwhile, the rest of the party leaves the troll muttering his incantation and makes for the room where the gryr was destroyed. From there they entered a portal (Ah ha! Punching the portal wasn't such a bad idea now, was it) into a collapsing underground complex still pulsating with otherworldly energy. They made their way through the hall and up the spiral staircase before the ceiling collapses. They are saved by Alia’s spell, but her sanity was lost in the process as the creature with which her mind was tied (there was a story arc with the crow) was crushed in the rubble and the Havren mind that possessed it (the crow) fled to hers, overwriting it (or at least pushing her mind aside).

We left the campaign here with the party amidst the rubble near the town and Eckehard below the temple at its center. Not long after exiting the portaled realm, acolytes from the temple approached underground with Yorgey Silver at their head (he was dead in the first rendition of this story, providing further evidence of multiple realities) and with the final words of the night said, “So my son is truly dead.”

There was a lot of run-up, but it was a hell of a ride and I thought I’d share the climax. I've never been so sad about a nameless NPC (the troll) especially one we spent so little time with. His sacrifice was appreciated.

GM side note: The story behind Blondwine was that she was captured and was used as a lab assistant in Nylor's experiments to find the source of the Silver disease. She was eventually able to make use of some tools that allowed her to traverse the portals and escape. Unfortunately, she found her way to a broken area of Nylor’s Prison (where he had mistakenly captured a vampire, who in its despair killed itself and its blood shattered that section of the prison). This broken area became a vortex of energy and shattered reality. Essentially, it began spitting out innumerable copies of Blondwine. She would then traverse the cells, eventually finding her way to the milky white room (room 12, which we later discovered what was inside from a blood-soaked map left behind by one of the Blondwines) where her infinite copies all met their demise. Interestingly, her curiosity ended up feeding and growing an entire ecosystem of giant spiders.

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