[This is the fourth in a series of in-character recaps of a DnD session I'm running in attempt to make what is traditionally a super boring part of DnD a much more fun one. It's following the "Rise of the Sun King" via the eyes of reporter Aubrey "The Quill". Check out last week's here, and check back next week for pt. 5! This one was titled "The Hunt for Pod 19 Concludes with Depression and Misfortune".]
(ed. note: Some modern historians have taken the character of “Link” to be merely fictitious, seeing him as an analogy of the no doubt many mercenaries, merchants, and entrepeneurs who attempted to exploit the coal’s effects and the efforts of Pod 54 for personal gain. While his dramatic end definitely supports this theory, without other evidence any arguments are merely speculative.)
The Zeta’s favour that they wanted of us was to deal with some debt that an elvish king, situated up the river a ways, had with a member of the Zeta Cartel. The journey to the elven King’s caverns were without much incident, though “The Sting” did disappear much to the annoyance of Hathron. However, as I’ve mentioned [ed: See "Sir Aubrey Remains..."], we ran into Sir Aubrey in the caverns of the King, standing over the disgusting remains of the king. His heart was pulled directly out of his chest. The elf who has been travelling with us swore he spotted a woman clad in black (now it is clear this is Rascal, but at the time it was dismissed), but our attentions were focused on a handful of elves who were attempting to break into our room and began attacking us from the doorway. Constantine, the mercenary I believe I’ve talked about before, was able to prop the door closed and buy us time to escape through a back entrance and then dashed after us. We exited the caverns into the cool night air, and caught up on our journeys as we walked back to the Wreck of the Zeta Twenty-Two over the next few days.
Sir Astrid and the elf waited outside of the city for whatever undiscernable reason du jour they were spinning, while the rest of us fanned out and sought supplies, food, entertainment, and in the case of myself, medicine for my artist. The monks went off and blew their remaining savings at the temple of Fortune with a mercenary named Link we picked up on the way. He, uh, accosted us at the docks and attempted to forcibly enter out party. While I wasn’t there, it seemed that it worked?
Hathron and Constantine met back up with the Information Broker, and swapped the news of the secret entrance to the elf caves and the completion of their quest to make them pay. In return, they recieved some additional information on the whereabouts of Pod 19, and a letter from General Boone, attatched to a hawk which now is Sir Astrid’s. We reached a general consensus to try to follow their trail up north and see if any of Rascal’s band had run across them, noting several peculiarities in the documents we had.The now 12 of us, now, (3 Monks, the Princess disguised as a page who kept attracting odd looks from the mercenary Link who travelled with us, Sir Astrid and his squire Hathron, myself and my artist, Constantine Serakus, and the elf,) set off to the north and remained relatively unbothered except by the cold until that evening, where we stumbled across a network of ruins where we pitched camp.
At camp that evening, the mercenary ran across a series of unmarked graves, later found to be three members of Pod 19, one of whom suffered severe skeletal… mutations. This whole set of ruins was on a huge bed of unrefined coal, though. The artist has been looking awful, so I’ve been making him some tea. I think he went down to take a bath, I think I’ll go check on him now. He’s done remarkably well illustrating the stuff here, please make sure to insert them at appropriate moments, you guys. (ed. – see appendices) I’m going to go check on him now, it’s getting late. Aubrey the Quill, signing off for the evening.
I’ve seen many things across Ere. Back home, I’ve looked a hanging king in the eye as he breathed his dying breath. I’ve watched the Lone Elves in battle, I’ve lived through the Eight-Month Siege of the Marcher Lords. I’ve run from the Southern Wolf-tribes, who are the size of lions and can consume a man entire in eight seconds flat. I’ve even witnessed the invasions of the Northern Orcs, who sail in swift as a fogbank and will tear your eyes out for their pagan gods.
But nothing, nothing I’ve seen has ever even dared to compare to what the coal turned my artist into. A great frothing beast, brought down by a spike of ivory plunged straight into his chest. He batted our fiercest warrior across unfathomable distances, and knocked down a castle wall with his bare hands. This is the work of the coal. It still pains me to write of it. I’ll say no further, only that we left the following morning with little reason to turn back. I still did.
With time, we came to Rascal’s Hideout, the cave beneath the lake. After introductions, the elf kid questioned a fairy named Barge on his ravings about one “University”, Rascal was brief and somber, Amber developed a remarkably blatant attraction to Hathron, and we learned Amber had accompanied Pod 19 and spied upon them since their arrival. They were attempting to find mining supplies up to the north. Link, who had been incessant in his understanding of his “knack” and how it could benefit him, eventually coaxed Rascal into letting him enter The Cairn. Not a few moments after, he opened his eyes and two cylindrical beams of light flew out, reflecting off the sides of the cairn, burning through him and tearing him to shreds.
Suffice it to say no one else attempted to enter the cairn. Well, save one – that night, Hathron snuck out of the tent, and (Watched by an invisible Rascal) proceeded to knock himself out inside the cairn, and Rascal brought him back to health, called him an idiot, and left.
The following morning we made our way north, when only three things of note occured: 1) we came across the grave of another member of Pod 19, whom we suspect was killed by the man called ‘C’. 2) The Princess Rane claimed to see a great mechanical bird fly through the sky, which matched one she had drawn in her sketchbook three weeks ago. 3) We came across a signpost which pointed us in the direction of the mine which Pod 19 apparently entered. We spent the night there and entered the mine the next morning.
In a clever bit of cunning, we saw the Lantern they had purchased broken by the doorstep, and then followed the trail of burned-out torches down into the mine. The elf claimed he could here someone screaming down there, but no one else heard it. After passing through the various collapsed mineshafts, rooms of coal which flew with magnetic attraction, and rooms where dense coal played god with gravity and passing corpses on the way, we ran across the dying calls of the leader of Pod 19, who directed us down the way to where the last 3 members of Pod 19 were apparently still alive and holding all their good they’d pillaged from their travels.
We entered this final room, which glowed with torches and was covered in all manner of plant life, and a few fully grown trees surrounding a pool of still blue water. Three corpses – no, two corpses and a dying botanist lay around the pool, and the botanist proceeded to tell us about how she had a kind of revelation and discovered how to control her knack, and in showing it to her two companions they ruthlessly cut her down, fearful of all the magic and danger that surrounded them. I can’t say that I blame them. After what we’ve seen… if any members in our party began to betray signs of such power, I wouldn’t be to surprised to find them dead the next morning.
After watching her die, we took their supplies and left via a shaft, which glided us up towards a pocket of dense coal and out of the mine. We headed back to Rascal’s hideout, said our hellos, mentioned the mechanical bird, and immediately found that the bird was no bird, but rather the famous world-travelling Cartographer, David Nestico. Rascal’s Crew immediately wanted to set out in hunt for him before the other various factions on the island found him, however Constantine wanted his promised turn in the Cairn before we left. All of us waiting excitedly, we opened the cairn to find him disappeared.
Constantine stood in the cairn for some time, then got bored and opened it again, to find the whole hideout covered in a thick layer of dust… in the future.
Aubrey the Quill, signing off for now. Whenever that is.