So we fought the freaky sew-together-skins skin thief – I’m not sure he was the same kind of … thing … as the other skin theives. His eyes were just red, no pupils or anything. When his skin came off he was just muscles, held together by blood vessels. He bled, a lot. We slept, healed up, and left one healthy guard with the 2 injured ones. We went back past burning house, back to middle road, which was narrower and more windy.
There was the sound of a woman crying ahead, and we saw a disheveled Elvish woman crouching, her arm in a sling, standing over another elf on the ground, who was matted in blood and seemed dead. Raisa didn’t see either of them.
And then there was a white octopus on the ceiling that spoke in Cinnamon’s voice, saying “let’s go”.
We got to a HUGE cavern, couldn’t even see the roof. There was a big building with a campfire and mug sign in front of it, leaning at steep angle against neighbor, but it looked secure. There were large scale doors with wooden ramps leading up for wagons. Looked like there had been a bar fight around 2 weeks ago (around the time of the earthquake) There was scattered food on ground, and lots of rats.
We saw 3 figures with drawn weapons leaning against far door. On closer inspection, they’d been killed by poison… skin thieves? Francis knew one of them – the orc – he’d beeen one of the ones who had briefed Francis on what to expect in the Slag. Cinnamon did a thing to rest his spirit.
We went into the building – very briefly – to grab the magical lights inside. There was the stench of blood inside, and most likely a pile of bodies behind the bar – we didn’t look; no point. Blood was dripping down the stairs – it looked like there had been a slaughterfest. Bastian said the rats smelled like disease, that they weren’t normal.
On the other side of the gatehouse building there was less rubble and fewer buildings. We headed down the maim path. The road was more winding – the area seemed to have been “mined”, and the road went to every lot. Not a lot left there, mostly broken down.
We passed some rickety wicker contraption, suspended from spindly metal legs. Lady C and Byron were all interested in the alchemical silver the legs were made from, and Byron started pondering the wicker’s flammability, but it really didn’t seem that important to me. Raisa and I tried to get them to stop staring at it, and eventually they came along.
The path started to go down a hill. There was a rope bridge, which looked new. There was what looked like an apartment building, sunken, across from us – the bridge went across to its 6th floor directly across from us. Although the bridge was new, there was a gash in rope, which Byron mended before we crossed. When we were ½ way across the bridge, a wild-eyed man wearing 3 layers of plate mail shouted at us through the window, then disappeared.
Inside, the walls were knocked down. We entered an armory – all the weapons and armor were emblazoned with the same coat of arms – not one I immediately recognized, a broken sword and bloody axe, parallel, with a sun or moon in background. Not a noble coat of arms. They looked new, and well-maintained. Francis said that this had been one of the companies of mercenaries sent down here by the king post-quake to try to secure the area. There had been 3 or 4 other companies – all disappeared now. They were setting up independent command structures – Francis said they threw a lot of engineers at the problem.
The next room was a generic supply center. And the next room: bunks. All full of dead people. They were all fit, men at arms, looked like they’ve been dead 1 or 2 weeks. Look a bit shriveled, all look horrified, but eyes are all closed. The next room was another barracks, with exactly the same thing – about 30 dead between the two rooms.
A ramp of packed earth lead down, seemed to spiral the building down, which was convenient for our cart. We continued down to the 2nd floor, where there were more dead folk – this time with signs that the people had been awake while they died. They all still seemed horrified, and still had that dessicated sunken shriveled look. We continued down to 1st floor, which was notably different, in that the dead were all lined up very organized, almost a grid formation, as if they were getting ready for inspection, and every one of them seemed to have driven sword through his own mouth.
Like the dude who spiked his eye two days ago.
Outside, we looked and saw a queasy spiderweb of canyons. It was larger than the space it took up should allow, and seemed to change every time you let your eyes follow the maze. Just looking at it gave me a headache.
Byron gnawed on his stick, in a gesture of prayer to Gelt for assistance. We heard a wet schlorping sound from behind us. All of us, in whatever direction we turned. We figured that was some sort of Gelt-y sign – optimistic thinking – and started into the canyons.
…And then, everything went bonkers – the rock was my mother… Bastian later said he’d felt the same thing. We stopped – and suddenly, before any of us knew what was happening, one of the guards spiked himself through the mouth with his sword. Another tried the same thing at the same time, but Cinnamon was able to stop him.
Then we heard a new noise – from the stone and walls of the canyon – and the words were pitched just too low to hear. We’d been walking for a long time, and were all getting tired. Lady C had a stimulant – [-5 HP, -2 CON, +10 to Perception +1 to Reflex] – she said it would last 10 hours, with no fatigue. Cinnamon and I gave it a try.
We eventually found our way out of the maze, up…. onto the wrong side of the cavern. There was a carved spiral pillar above us, but not much else we could see. I was hyped up on Lady C’s potion and so took first watch. Crashed out after a few hours, but I didn’t sleep well — none ov us did.
When we got up, the schlorping sound had moved to in front of us. Byron suggested that we walk backwards, to get out the other side.
Okay, my bad, but I peeked. So did Bastian. And we got lost when everyone else made it out okay. Somehow we ended up being led along by a creepy rock-thing, even though we’d thought we were all still tied together. We got away from it and heard the rest of them all yelling to us, from … everywhere.
Short of other options, I decided to drink with Bastian, pray to Marius, and hope for a miracle. We got stinking drunk, wandered, and – miraculously – made it out, praise Marius.
We slept, and rested. When we continued upon waking, we come upon the Crater. It was huge, an egg shape, glossy black. Light reflected… wrong, like movement out of the corner of the eye. There was an iron stairway leading down into crater. (Apparently the iron was new, 2 years, and very weak, seems fire-weakened according to Bastian.) The handrails were wrapped in cracked leather and canvas, probably because of the heat.
Byron threw a light pebble into the crater, and it skittered, and the light reflected… oddly…