Iron Gods

The Buried World

It has been fifteen days since Torch went out. The violet flame that was the lifesblood of Torch’s economy has gone cold and the residents of the town are starting to fear that it will never relight. Five expeditions have been sent into the caverns under the hill that Torch is built on, and all five are now missing. Khonnir Baine, beloved town leader, is among them.

A new group came together to make a sixth forray into the lightless caverns. After clashing with some of the denizens of the caves they made a deal with Sef, the leader of a group of Skulks. In exchange for peace and the group’s help in clearing the gremlin mennace from the caves, Sef would offer safe passage through their territory and information on who else had been through. She told of the first group to arrive, made up of orcs and ratfolk and led by a striking woman with purple hair. It was they who had first paid the Skulks to protect the caves from further investigation and had not been seen since. It was three days after their arrival that the forge went out.

As per the agreement the group scoured the caves of the gremlins and killed their king, leaving his head pinned to the wall as a warning to the remaining pests that they were no longer to be tolerated. With that they returned to town to rest and restock. They were welcomed back with excitement and curiosity, being only the second team to return from a trip into the caverns. As they were resting two locals came to call on them. Garmen Ulreth, a local entrepreneur, invited them to spend the evening at his establishment, Silverdisk Hall, for a night of drinks, entertainment, and most importantly gambling. It proved an enjoyable way to relax from the tension of exploring the caves, though the presense of the Ropefists, a local mercenary gang, seemed curious to some. The second call came in the morning, a local merchant named Sanvil Trett, who graciously offered his aid to the group in identifying and possibly purchasing any items of particular interest that they found in their excursions.

Their second trip under the town proved to be more puzzling. They found one of the bodies of the previous team, Gerrol, a man they recognized as engaged to the daughter of the town smith. Strange mold had invaded his body, killing him slowly. They also came across a survivor of the very first expedition, the halfling Nessa. Having barely survived on her own in the dark of the caves Nessa had been through much and the scars, both physical and emotional, were still raw. The promise of safetey and escape (and food) was enough for her to join her musket to the group.

Delving further into the caves the adventurers passed through a doorway in an incongruously smooth wall of metal. The dirt underfoot made way for more of the grey metal, the walls and doors clearly manufactured but also incalculably old. Passing through this metal corridor the terrain changed again, even more perplexing than the last. Buried here under the town they found a vast desert of sand-blown dunes, all under a grey metal dome. In the distance horrifying skeletal figures staggered towards, their four arms grasping and clawing the air.

The group battled their way across the underground desert through the groups of skeletons. Along the far cliff wall they came across a cave covered in crude paintings, the largest of which depicted many four-armed humanoids bowing in worship of an oblong burning shape in the sky. They also came across an illusory wall leading out of the desert and into more of the strange metal corridors, though here the devices and panels seemed to be alive with blinking lights and shooting sparks. It was here that they found Hetuath, leader of those who had lived in the desert and likewise damned to eternal life. In his despair and anger he lashed out at the intruders but was eventually put down. Kit’s focus was entirely on the control console behind Hetuath, and after some reworking of circuits and wires restored power and initiated a reboot of the system. With a sigh of fresh air moving for the first time in millenia the habitat systems came back online and artificial daylight flooded the underground desert and brought a final peace to the restless dead.

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Technological Terrors

After a rest back in town the sixth expedition descended again under Torch and continued their push farther into the metalic ruins. The first chamber bode ill, with half of the wall spattered in blood and a trail leading through one of the doors. In the maze of doors, small rooms, and corridors, they faced bloody oozes and a strange fungus that spoke telepathically. Scattered about was broken equipment and supplies. In one room Kit was able to access a series of sample logs referencing their source, planet CX-335 “Kasath”. She also found a series of video files depicting the desert and its inhabitants undergoing some sort of earthquake, and in the ensuing struggle to find food finally succumbing to whatever substances they consumed out of desperation and hunger.

Another room brought back harsh memories for Nessa as she stumbled into the med bay where she had been strapped down and “treated” by the medical droids. The malfunctioning robot came at them in its misguided attempt to administer aid. Farther down the hall they came across a strange group of plant creatures, vegepygmies, and the host bodies they had sprung from. With a wail of grief Kit recognized the remains of her teammates, who had succumbed to the russet mold that she could have cured had she been with them. Reclaiming the symbols of their faith in the clockwork goddess, Kit gave what last rites she could and committed their bodies to flame, thus preventing the spread of the deadly mold.

Wearied both physically and emotionally the group turned to make their way back to the surface. On their way out they peeked through one last door, only to find the first object of their search, Khonnir Baine. He was trapped in a glass pod, tubes and wires plugged into him, his eyes crazed with pain and his mouth silently screaming as two more medical droids enacted some procedure upon him. Pushing through their exhaustion the group rushed the room. The frustratingly durable alloy of the robots’ chasis proved exceptionally difficult to pierce, but finally with a scream of rage Erreya leaped into the air and brought her greatsword down through the rotors of the droid, riding it the ground.

As the rest of the group recovered from the fight Kit and Dahm rushed to the pod and managed to free Baine from its confines. He collapsed onto them, seemingly unable to support his own weight, his eyes wide but unseeing as he appeared to be completely unaware of his surroundings, only of the ongoing pain in his head.

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Confronting the Priestess

Baine was home, but his mind seemed still under attack. Mother Guiliana did her best to keep him comfortable and calm, but even the strongest of her divine magics could only prevent him from deteriorating. All that was for it was to once more go under the town in search of the original cause of the Torch going out. Deeper into the complex they explored rooms full of heavier machinery than the labs they had so far seen, this time carefully guarded by teams of orcs and ratfolk all with a clawed gauntlet emblazoned on their chest. Along with the corridors themselves the orcs had a curious prisoner who Dahm recognized as the android spellslinger Daneel, apprentice to Khonnir Baine. Once rescued he added his arcane pistol to their firepower, each shot flaring runes and spitting lighting. He warned of the leader of the group of raiders behind Torch’s predicament, the dangerous and zealous priestess Meyanda, also a fellow android.

Before storming the main reactor room the team confronted Meyanda’s first lieutenant, a mute gargoyle, and faced off against a hulking metal humanoid who spoke in uninflected tones of the “Unity Protocols”. With the correct keycard in hand they assaulted Meyanda’s final bastion in the main reactor. In the fight the android fanatic passed on a vision of the madness of her god to Erreya, who was suddenly taken with visions of a demonic face and massive toothed machine ripping its way up through the earth. In her last act of desperation Meyanda turned her guns on the reactor itself, attempting to detonate it and take her enemies with her in a pyre dedicated to her god Hellion. While not the explosion she hoped for, the radiation leak was enough to overwhelm Arnor. In then end, however, Meyanda fell. Kit, seeing the immediate danger to the town from the unstable reactor, managed to patch enough back together to reinitiate the fail-safes and open the vents, reigniting Torch. With Meyanda subdued they took their prisoner and their wounded and returned to the surface.

Daneel was quick to see the cause of Baine’s continued suffering, and with an injection of his own reprogrammed nanites end the ongoing damage. Mother Guiliana patched Arnor up and healed him of his radiation poisoning. The immediate threats ended the group turned its attention to Meyanda. Erreya’s efforts proved quite fruitful and even the android’s religious zeal was in the end broken. She told of her god Hellion, buried under the debris of Scrapwall, scrounging power and soldiers to eventually unearth a great machine to turn on Silvermount. The android spoke of great injustices done against Hellion by one called Unity, who supposedly resided under the mountain and who Hellion had sworn bloody vengeance against. Troubled by the implications of such a force being grown, the group agreed that further investigation into Scrapwall was going to be necessary. But first, a time to rest and celebrate a town saved, and allies brought safely home.

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The Journey to Scrapwall

There were two options to get to Scrapwall. The longer and safer way was to head south and follow the river, perhaps arranging passage on a trading ship headed downstream. Time was pressing, however, so overland it was to be. With their packs full and their gear prepared the team set out into the badlands of Numeria.

It did not take long to find why few dared travel too far out into Numeria on their own. Strange creatures roamed the wilds. Mutated humanoids, feral with pain and rage, and massive spined dragons whose shadow blocked out the punishing sun. Even the flora proved hazardous, when they accidentally camped in a patch of blood brushes. As the week’s journey wore on a new danger emerged. Raiders out of Scrapwall out patrolling looking for wayward travelers or hapless traders who had risked journeying too close. A group of such raiders set upon them, all riding strange vehicles that roared and screamed. They were swiftly dispatched but one escaped to warn the Iron Lords of their impending approach.

Scrapwall itself was just as it had been described. A three mile long walled junkyard town, ruled over by feuding gangs of outcasts and miscreants. Seeking a place to rest and take stock of the situation the group approached an old Crusader fort they had been told of nearby known as Aldronard’s Grave. Normally manned by a few members of the Mendevian Crusades to provide safe rest and supplies to the soldier headed north to the Worldwound, they were surprised to find the gates closed and the guards turning them away. Suspicious, they approached anyway and swiftly realized that the guards had been a ruse. A raiding party from one of the Scrapwall gangs, the Smilers, had attacked and taken the fort, and already eaten man of its defenders. After a quick fight the group cleared out the last of the Smilers and rescued the four surviving Crusaders, who in their gratitude offered the group the fort as a safe place to stay and rest before approaching Scrapwall.

It was that night while Kit was on watch that the name sake of the fort made himself known. Aldronard, a wayward Crusader of the Second Mendevian Crusade, had taken his own life by flinging himself from the steeple some fifty years before. In his grief and anger he had cursed his deity, thus damning his soul to a restless existence on the material plane. With Kit’s help and guidance he found peace, and was able to finally move on back into the rest of Sarenrae.

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Gang Negotiations

Approaching the main gates of Scrapwall the group was suddenly presented with a dilema. With no real intel on what went on inside the debris wall, they had no idea what to expect or plan for. A quick attempt at disguising themselves as a returning raider and his captured slaves nearly got them through the front gate, until they were confronted by the intimidating visage of Sevroth Slaid. The leader of the Steel Hawks, she confronted them on their deception and demanded answers. Their true identities known, she offered them a deal. She could dump them out of Scrapwall right then, or they could perform a service for her by assassinating Birdfood, a former Smiler who had been placed as an overseer of the Steel Hawks by the Lords of Rust. Having no love for the Smilers after what they had done at Aldronard’s Grave, it was a deal easily struck. Without much trouble they found the man they wanted and to her great delight presented Slaid with his head. With that free access through the gates of Scrapwall was theirs.

Their second stop was to the Clockwork Chapel, to check in on a friend of Joram Kyte’s. Dinvaya was a fellow cleric and inventor of Brigh who had apparently been in hiding here in Scrapwall for many years after angering the Technic League in her efforts against the organization. After forcing their way past the chapel’s automated defenses Dinvaya welcomed them in, though not before clearing up some uncertainty as to Nessa’s loyalties. The cleric was able to give them a rundown of the local gangs and who controlled what territory, as well as who would be worth forming an alliance with. While they agreed that their main alliance should be with Redtooth’s ratfolk, the more pressing concern became Arnor’s tetnus contracted in the fight against the junk gollums.

Dinvaya’s advice for that was the mount an assault on the Smiler’s main base, which had once been an old medical fascility. Meanwhile she would start gathering her things and get word to Redtooth of the group’s arrival. Clearing the Smiler’s base proved a challenging task, contending with laser traps, a horde of lobotomized minions, and then the necromancer Marrow herself. In the end they were able to take the base and, after a minor mishap, repair one of the medical pods well enough to heal Arnor. They also successfully rescued Whiskifiss, the brother of Redtooth and prisoner of the Smilers. After taking some time to rest, clear the worst of the gore, and secure the entrances for their further use they took Whiskifiss south to his sister’s territory. There Redtooth welcomed them readily, having already heard from Dinvaya and even more heartened by the safe return of her brother. She told of her own concerns about the seemingly unexplainable influence that the entity Hellion was having in Scrapwall, and offered them an arrangement. Her brother Whiskifiss could lead them to the Reciever Array, where they thought they might find more information about Hellion and his activities, if they they continued on to the crash site in the far eastern canyon and retrieved three more units of Cylex an explosive one of ther scavengers had found. With the explosives, she promised that should they need a distraction to enter the Rust Lord’s domain she could bring down the Scrapmaster’s Arena.

Rested and resuplied they headed out, following the lead of Whiskifiss and his loyal mount Rusty. The ratfolk ranger led them through the debris peak, the narrow passage a tight squeeze but safe from any prying eyes. On the east side of the peak they found the Reciever Array. What once had seemed to be an active site just weeks before was now a place of slaughter. Bodies lay strewn about, some seemingly stabbed and beaten, but many also burned. These, Whiskifiss told them, were the bodies of the the Thralls of Hellion, the first cult of Hellion’s worshipers. It was they who had held the antenna array until just two weeks before. None knew exactly what happened, but those close enough reported screams of terror and flashes of fire in the middle of the night. The next morning, all but a handful of the Thralls were dead, and the antenna was abandoned.

Exploring the complex for clues as to the fate of the Thralls of Hellion, it quickly became apparent that the site was not as abandoned as it seemed. A strange force started attacking the adventurers’ minds, seemingly rifling through their thoughts and then forcing visions upon them. Sometimes it was horrifying nightmares, their worst fears come true. Other times it seemed snatches of memories, but not their own. Included in the jumble they saw a massive metal scorpion appear before the huddled chokers, those who were to become the Thralls of Hellion as they fell down and began groveling before it. Other visions showed the Thralls hauling massive batteries out of the antenna array, to be carted off to another location. Then finally the Thralls frantic, desperately trying to revive silenced terminals and the flow of power had seemingly stopped, and then the metal scorpion again descending but this time in a rage, it’s massive limbs ripping and rending and it’s tail spitting lances of fire that cut through the earth. Reeling under the mental onslaught of the visions the team desperately sought out the creature who was inflicting them. In brief flickers it would appear, a small floating body surrounded in tentacles. Arnor fell to it’s assault before they were finally able to overwhelm it.

Staggered from the fight they found their way to the roof of the complex and the base of the antenna itself. There Kit was able to affix the one sample of Cylex they had as a test run and successfully detonated it, collapsing the antenna and sending a clear message of their presence to the Rust Lords. From there they continued east into the canyon to find more of the potent explosive. They quickly discovered, however, why so few had dared enter the canyon for what treasures it held before. An eerie white mist filled the area and poltergeists flitted in and out of sight, flinging stones (or halflings). Halfway through the canyon the resolve of the party broke and several fled from the specters. Upon reconvening at the end of the canyon they found themselves at the crash site of some sort of strange boat. The mist poured most strongly from it, and more half formed shapes flickered and shifted within. Inside the wreckage it was clear that whatever manner of ship it was it had dealt with an extreme amount of heat, as whole sections of the walls had begun to melt down. The remains of the crew they found were long dead, and some had even in their terror of their demise reformed into wraiths. At the fore of the wreckage they found the body of the captain. His specter, full of anguish and rage, lashed out at them, but with Arnor’s daring plunge through the cockpit window to bathe the creature in sunlight Erreya was able to lay the spirit down. On his remains they found his last recording, apparently his account as he desperately tried to save his crew, as well as a strange memory facet that was tucked in his pocket.

“This is the final report of salvage module Chrysalis, Captain
Yurian Valako reporting. Divinity is lost; the rest of the ship’s crew
is presumed dead or worse. The surviving crew of Chrysalis and I
are boarding a launch and will attempt an emergency landing, but
without Al control, the prospects of a safe landing are minimal .
I’ve secured an inhibitor facet-if I can install it into the Unity
interface, it should disable the Al’s security long enough for us to
reclaim control and perhaps even signal for help from home. I’m
boarding the launch now, and will append further reports after
our successful landing .”

Digging through the rest of the ship they dealt with more poltergeists of the lost crew and a hungry will o’ whip who fed on the fear the undead created, but in the chaos, and wtih the summoned help of Daneel’s arcane firepower, they were able to find and retrieve three more samples of Cylex. The explosives in hand they fled the haunted ship and the canyon back into the main area of Scrapwall. They had nearly made it back to their improvised base and a long needed rest when they were ambushed by traps that Arnor found all too familiar. A team of orc hunters, formerly his own clan mates, sent by the Lords of Rust to deal witht he upstart interlopers. Despite the initial frustration of the traps, however, the orcs were eventually put down. Finally staggering back to their base, they were surprised to see more humanoids waiting for them. This time, however, it was not to attack but to join. Word of their deeds had spread quickly, and suddenly they were faced with a dozen recruits, all eager to join the newest up and coming faction and to claim a territory of their own.

But all is not at ease within the group. Tensions have started to flare, and accusations of deception and drug use have been thrown about. Now as their efforts start to bear fruit the stress has started to push the cracks just a little bit wider…

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