Rust of Coming Ages

THOG LOG (Session 2).

ZInvar is never going to be a popular tourist destination.
No, wait, I take that back. I can see an excellent opportunity for Extreme Weight Loss tours. I probably lost half a stone in the last three days. Granted, a lot of that was blood loss, and some of the rest was… well… let’s just say the Extreme Weight Loss tours would have to stock lots of spare pants.
But, let’s take things in order.

The official Zinvar Welcoming Committee popped up shortly after we disembarked. I had previously only seen things like the Welcoming Committee in my nightmares after a full belly of Jonnar’s Special Stew. The Murlogi identified the Welcoming Committee as demons. This only reinforces my suspicions about the Special Stew. We dispatched the Welcoming Committee with dispatch, spent the night on the beach, and moved into the city in the morning.

The buildings in Zinvar are surprisingly well-preserved, what with the city being abandoned for a hundred years. The streets are littered with old corpses. We did not have enough time for a thorough physical examination, but it looked like the inhabitants for the most part attacked each other. The city tore itself apart from the inside… the demons, zombies, and spider-bats only moved in later.
Zombies weren’t a problem — we ran into a pair and dropped a statue on them. I believe that the statue was of Randae Terisonen — the nose is fairly distinctive — but the weathering made it hard to obtain a definitive identification.
The spider-bats were more of a problem. That is, I am told they were a problem, since I never actually saw a spider-bat — just a flash of movement and the pavement rushing up towards my face. As a side note, my nose temporarily rivals Randae Terisonen’s in size.

The spider-bats (so I am told) almost did for us. The only ones left standing were Uinder and the two Murlogi. They dragged us into a building to fort up and recuperate, at which point Bartholomew went temporarily mad, shanked Emerald, and had to be restrained. (Yes, a boy Murlog attacked a girl Murlog. Yes, really. Zinvar’s that kind of place.)

Once we woke up — and thank your deity-of-choice for Uinder, because without the Danarchan we would all have been dead — we figured out that Bartholomew going mad was due to a spell/curse on the building. (Note to self — if I can get away with it on the way back, take another look at how that spell is anchored.) Bringing us into the building may have triggered it. Taking Bartholomew out of the building allowed him to recover from thinking we were all out to steal his stuff.

The building was also the first place we saw non-ancient corpses: apparently, a group of looters. Not clear whether something else killed them and dragged them in, or if they came in and fell prey to the curse.

The next two days were more of the same: sneaking around between ruined buildings, avoiding any sort of movement, backtracking, going around. Interestingly, the three buildings where we saw movement were all shops of some kind. More on what that may possibly mean later.
We were ambushed by feral humans, then again by demons; encountered evidence of a Lugrok looting party slaughtered by demons, and gave that area a wide berth; and eventually arrived at the hospital. So far there seems to be nothing inimical at the hospital, but the inscriptions are deeply weird.

In the emergency ward, scribbled in blood:
“It’s his face in the mirror
Shunned by his unhallowed blood
Leaves me never to love never to feel anything”

In the stairwell, written in chalk over and over:
“We had so much time to understand”

In the library, etched into the side of the card catalog:
“While a million creatures
See their soil turning to dust
Hrimata Eleison”
- Telpar den Skeldrate, scholar of Linsdell University, Scribe to the Nameless One.

“Hrimata Eleison” means “money have mercy” in Enris-Sokal. At first I thought it meaningless. Upon reflection I find it to have two meanings, both disturbingly ironic.
First of all, wealth has no mercy, the two concepts are almost antithetical. Secondly, “Eleison” is most often used in the context of prayer: is the writing referring to worship of money?

Uinder and Kurimudal have located the research we need. It uses a plant cultivar that was — 100 years ago — only found in one place in Bodlea. Seems we’ll be making a stop on the way home. We’re hunkered down for the night before the trip back to shore. So I’m sitting here — warming my hands on the fire that the Murlog have built with priceless ancient manuscripts — and thinking.

The building with the spell was an inn — and an inn near the town entrance, which means it catered to wealthy clientele. (The hospital, the only other building we entered, did not have a spell on it.) The spell made Bartholomew attack us because he thought we coveted his wealth. We saw movement — someone watching us — from within three buildings. All three were shops, aka repositories of wealth. And then there is that line about “Hrimata Eleison”, and its dual meanings.

The tentative conclusion is that wealth, or more precisely greed and love of wealth, played some part in the downfall of Zinvar. Not quite certain what the implications are for us at present, except for one, which I will have to mention to the others in the morning. It may be a bad idea to feel greed in this place, and an even worse one to act on it.

I don’t think that extends to a greed for knowledge, though: unlike wealth, knowledge acquisition isn’t a zero-sum game. But this is all wild supposition anyway.

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GM Report 2: [INTRODUCTION]
Deceitful friend of mine
Lift the veil and reveal all this time

- Phantasma, Let It Die

Cut scene

Buryen, 12 Orhan 1, 6047 TE

Well outside the city, the fires rose, consuming the body.

“Thanks for the use of your land, and your discretion,” Ruven said to his colleague. “For a moment, I thought this would be the moment word got out and panic began.”

“Ruven, you have to alert the authorities. How many patients do you have now?”

“Only two more. A dock worker and a fruitmonger. I’m trying to find out if there was some sort of taint amongst a shipment of apples.”

Deep within the woods surrounding the place, brows furrowed. “Fuck,” thought their owner.

Introduction

Buryen, 22 Orhan 1, 6047 TE

The Lost Horizon put out on the evening tide, leaving you with as many supplies as they dared. Their plan is to put into Port of Izar, resupply, and return as quickly as possible, perhaps a week, perhaps two depending on tide and storm. As they grow more distant, perhaps you reflect that you did not hire them for their reliability, but their desperation. Hopefully, the Rhiani woman who has remained among them will both keep them and their resuppliers honest. In any case, the die is cast.

You stand upon a beach, the sun has gone down. Old roads are overgrown but discernible, the ruin of Zinvar rising amidst encroaching greenery. Should a forest have reclaimed more, or does some power hold the trees at bay?

The Zinvar Tourism Board

Such thoughts were quickly back-burnered with the observations of two forms moving in the underbrush. As they came forward, the two Murlogi had memories of warnings from their Mothers about such things, Demons of the Void. The party was able to dispatch them with little difficulty, though, and the party was able to sleep through the night.

Usivyen, 23 Orhan 1, 6047 TE

After a quick breakfast, the party headed from the beach to the remnant of the city proper. The party decided quickly to bypass buildings and the wealth that might be contained therein until they found the library, leaving for later the question of looting as a way of killing time until the return of the Lost Horizon.

Some Zombies were clearly offended at the loss of an immediate opportunity to provide hospitality, and they came out to register their dissatisfaction. Thog and Kurimudal instantly leapt to a damaged statue and prepared to push it while the Murlogi posed as bait before the statue in a plan worthy of Uncle Erasmus. Fortune was with the team, though, and neither Zombie “survived” having the structure collapsed upon them. Even better, they got out of the way in time.

That shit flies, yo.

The party continued its way in, only to be rushed by what Bartholomew described as “Medium sized spiders… only they fly.” That mobility very nearly proved disasterous for Sel Kai, though, as Thog, Kurimudal, quickly succumbed to their venomous bites. The Murlogi were able to drag them into a building, and Uinder was able to stabilize them while continuing to marvel at the interplay between Bartholomew and Emerald.

Things turned darker, though, when Bartholomew began to suspect that Emerald and Uinder had designs on his hat. Emerald tried to talk him down, but blows were struck before Uinder was able to incapacitate him with a sleep-poison covered dart.

Uinder and Emerald then had a quiet evening, perhaps their first, while Uinder tended his patients and Emerald found an assortment of coins and a pouch with 10 black opals.

Melyen, 24 Orhan 1, 6047 TE

Morning saw the party recovered. Except for Bartholomew, now bound, who was still suspicious of the party. Thog suspected enchantment and urged the party to leave the building, shortly after which Bartholomew came to his senses. Thog made a note to examine this building later, while Bartholomew threw the hat from his head in shame at having suspected ill of, let alone actually struck, a woman.

As the party continued its way, as signaled by Thog’s map, they were swept by five more of the strange, even weak, Demons of the Void. The party triumphed, but not before Bartholomew took a wound to the muscle and cartilage of his left arm.

The party grew nearer to the hospital and came across fresh corpses! Lugroki! Thog noted that their markings indicated their fellows regarded their martial prowess significant, yet here they lay thoroughly dispatched. The party chose an alternate route forward.

The detour brought them to the remains of a villa, out of which 8 humans barely above the demons and zombies encountered attacked. Three were dispatched very quickly, and the others fled.

[See Thog’s account for what transpired at the library]

The party has collected the following treasure:

  • Pouch with 10 Black opals, 1 tal in size. (Not assessed)
  • 108 Bronze Tills (Zinvari coin)
  • 4 Orlin (Sel-Kai coin)
  • 15 Selini (Sel-Kai coin)
  • 200 Gilbars (Sel-Kai coin)
  • 55 Silver Seldags (Kaitain coin)
  • Surgical tool set (Not assessed)
  • Misc medical tools and oils (Not assessed)
  • Assorted books: Herbals, “recent” unpublished documents (Not assessed)

Orhyan, 25 Orhan 1 6047 TE Twenty two days have passed since patient zero was identified.

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GM Report: Session 1
And this judgment day is drawing near
And this confession is killing me again

– In This Moment, Beautiful Tragedy

Usivyen (Water Day) 3 Orhan 1, 6047 TE

Blood Roses

Sherren

The man said there was a pea under one of the shells. And there was when he showed them to you. He was even pretty good at fetching it away before inviting you to select one. Had this fool never heard of a Rhiani? He learned, briefly, before realizing that want of a larynx was extremely inconvenient. You hadn’t reckoned on his associate, though. He joined his compatriot in a journey to ambient temperature, though he injured you in the process. Luckily, there’s a Lay Healer nearby whose rates are reasonable for the skill they display.

Thog

Usivyen. You never could get the hang of Usivyens. Maybe that’s why you pulled the floater out of Black Heron Canal. You thought you saw him move, but usually that’s a bad sign – they say something can actually live in that soup they call canal water, and that it gets hungry. But pull him up you did. And he looked bad even for a floater. Something about his cough set your hair on edge. Your reflex was to unload him on Kurimudal and Ruven at the South Commons Clinic. They’re about the only folk who’ll fix someone up and then ask how they can pay, and damn sure it’s not coming out of your purse.

Kurimudal & Uinder

It’s the 3rd day of the New Year, your hangover has almost faded and that’s more than you can say for half the patients you’ve seen so far this year.

Today is different, though: Ruven has called you into a private space away from your patients, and nothing is happening to warrant that privacy. Closing the door, Ruven lowers his voice. “We’re about to have a problem if we don’t do something. Thog brought someone in this morning. At first glance, it looked like Canal poison, another floater he fished out for some reason. But I looked closer. Fellow had the start of blood roses in his armpits. It’s a sign of incipient Kadaena’s Revenge, and that’s a city killer. If one has signs, in a week or a month three will. I know a cure, but it involves ingredients we can’t afford in the amounts we’ll need. But if we move fast enough… When I was a student, I read about a Lay Healer name of Tulgendiril who had a preventative that involved a much less expensive preparation, so more to go around. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he was a senior Lay Healer at Zinvar Ducal Hospital, and that’s where his notes and ingredients will be. It’s not in Nomikos, I looked for it years ago.” From just outside the door, a gasp of “Oh, noes” comes clearly and distinctly.

Emerald and Bartholomew

Well, it’s pokings day again. You’ve gotten the hang of pokings day: The nice healers stab you and swab you just like they do every week. Then they write. Sometimes they frown. Sometimes they say “Huh.” You’re not sure which is worse. Today is different. They just got up and walked out of the room. They never do that. Emerald gives Bartholomew a glance, and he moves to the door they just closed because maybe they’re doing something interesting. After listening for a moment, he exclaims, “Oh, noes!” the door opens, the healers peering out at him in consternation.

Ruven sends the group to the Prince Chanik to find a captain desperate enough for this. He will stay behind to keep the doors open and gather early patients to avoid a panic.

Panic! At the Chanik

Thog skiffed the group to the bar Ruven recommended, the Prince Chanik. Sherren and Uinder tried to glide cool, but Bartholomew went directly to Captain Kleason of the Lost Horizon with an urgent need to declaim his patched (in shades that don’t match) red outfit. Emerald was able to diffuse the situation by taking Bartholomew out of the bar and showing him sailcloth. Meanwhile, when Uinder revealed the party is going to Zinvar all the sailors edged away from them and badtender wished the luck finding a captain that desperate.

Uinder, Kurimudal, and Sherren engaged the Captain, who after some discussion agreed to bear them to Zinvar that very night in exchange for a share of any treasures recovered from the place. Thog went to Byron’s Bicycles (what in the Six Pales is a bicycle?), and was able to secure a map. (Maybe a bicycle is a kind of map?) The group presented themselves at the Lost Horizon in time for the evening tide, and made way.

Not Exactly Sailors on the Seas of Fate

One day out, they spotted a Lankan slaver, but were able to outrun it. The second day found them aiding a downed Skyship whose pilot had been poisoned. Kurimudal and Uinder managed to come up with an antidote in time to prevent the poison from running it’s full course. A grateful Captain Ansus gave his name to Kurimudal and offered to sponsor him should he stand for admission to the Guild of Skysailors. The ship also gave the Lost Horizon 3 weeks worth of supplies, and the Captain’s spare hat to Bartholomew.

Several days later, the Xooban pirate ship Cry Sun spotted them and began chasing – and from this angle it seemed likely they’d engage. Worse, one of the deck hands had a personal issue with the enemy Captain over which there’d been a price placed on his head — surrender or terms would necessarily go poorly for him. Uinder and the Horizon’s crew was able to buy time through clever sailing, though it was inevitable that they’d come into missile range. Once that happened, Uinder was able to poison the enemy pilot with a very well placed shot and Thog – shocking everyone – put the enemy Captain to sleep with some sort of Essence spell! Between these, the Horizon was able to escape.

The additional supplies allowed them to avoid making port in Artha, though this proved little help because Essence-driven weather utterly becalmed them for a day before kicking up as a storm that propelled them far faster than any water-going vessel should be able to. When the storm ended, the ship was in sight of Zinvar, with some of the crew muttering about portals and many thanks being given to Neela despite the ruined sails and fouled lines. As repairs began, sacrificing most of Bartholomew’s beloved sailcloth, Seagulls(?!?) attacked from Zinvar’s shores, again only causing minor damage before being driven off -though Bartholomew lost his hat for a time and had some difficulty recovering it.

The Captain put the party ashore, assuring them that they would finish repairs and make for Port of Izar, expecting to return in a week’s time.

It is now Buryen, 22 Orhan 1, 6047 TE Nineteen days have passed since patient zero was identified.

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Our Story so far
Starting status

The Party knows one another, loosely speaking.

Kurimudal is a junior partner at South Commons Clinic, where Uinder Darogan also works as a physicker. The senior partner is Ruven Keleneor.

Bartholomew T. Murlog is an occasional patient at the clinic, receiving treatment at a discount from the staff in exchange for being a research subject, Murlogi patients being a rarity to say the least.

THOG knows Bartholomew T. Murlog and Emerald T. Murlog loosely because they travel in similar circles in the Canal Maze.

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