Marek (Steven P. Ross) - Scythian Adventurer
Alethia (Tammy Powers) - Saturnian Mercenary
Hylacea (NPC) - Hesperian Spy
Macco (NPC) - Gorgon Brigand/Mercenary
11th Simanu, Year 506 Second Age (SA)
In the aftermath of the fighting, the player Heroes assess their condition. Alethia goes into the barracks room and searches around, looking for a key. She finds a horn hanging from the edge of one of the bunk beds, and opening it, finds a sweet-smelling powder of brown and grey. Not taking a chance of trying to identifying it, she takes it with her for future examination and possible use. She examines the footlockers in the chamber, and seeing that they're securely locked, attempts to use ichor from the metallic snake to eat through the locks; she finds they are resistant to the acid. She manages to open two of the footlockers by bashing them open with a mace, once the venom has weakened the wood. There is some basic gear, several sets of clothes, and some personal possessions, but no keys and nothing she feels she can use. She returns to the guard room, and searches the bodies of the Balam. She sees the daggers, spears, and maces, and is able to recover a key from the last body she searches. She goes to the portcullis at the entrance to the long hallway from which the Ahl-At-Rab and his men came, but the key does not open that lock. She goes to the cells with bars across from the guard rooms to see if the key opens those locks.
During the course of Alethia's investigations, Marek attempts some healing on both Macco and Hylacea. He is successful to a lesser extent on both of them, but neither the Hesperian nor the Gorgon male are in good shape, the latter still somewhat brain addled and disoriented.
Alethia sees that it's very dark inside the two cells in question, and there's a stench. She goes back and retrieves a torch, and sees that the first cell holds emaciated male slaves, with rusty chains holding them attached to the wall. She notices there are also skeletal remains in the cell, some of them with flesh still attached. One of the emaciated men's lips and teeth appear to be stained (with blood?). Checking the other cell, Alethia determines that there are two women in the cell, not as emaciated as the men. There are lots of bones and skulls. The women piteously beg her to set them free and let them out.
When she is hesitant, Alethia is visited by what she comes to believe is a lamia. The lamia offers to open the long hallway door for a price. Alethia's not about to pay an unnamed price for such a trivial task, and gets a flash of the lamia as being a harpy; that turns her completely against the creature. The lamia gives her a stern warning, and then disappears as shades tend to do in Saturnia. She goes back into the guard room, and she and Hylacea talk about lamias and what they know of the creatures. Having finished working on Macco and Hylacea, Marek comes over to the two women, but fortunately doesn't know anything and can't remember knowledge about lamias.
While Marek treats Alethia's wounds, Hylacea goes and opens the lock on the portcullis to the long hallway. She opens the lock, and nonchalantly leans up against the wall, and is waiting for the others after Marek has finished his work.
At Alethia's suggestion, they all go and check the one door on the floor near the cells that they didn't go examine. The door opens onto a torture room, with what appears to be a corpse on the rack. Marek throws up at the noxious stench and what he sees, and tells the others that there's nothing there, and tries to lead them away. An agonised, gurgling cry from the "corpse" causes Alethia to enter the chamber. She throws up from the smell, and finds the body is still alive, a man who has been flayed down to the muscle, which is tearing and shredding on the rack, but he's not dead. This makes her vomit again. She ponders if he's being kept alive to feed a spell or being made to suffer torment. In an act of compassion, she uses a nearby torchure sword to sever the head from the shoulder as the man (?) breathes a last "thank you". Marek suffers in the eyes of his fellow Heroes who are concerned that he didn't check to see if the fellow was still alive, and reacted with fear and a lack of compassion. [He loses 5 Renown.] When Alethia emerges from the room into the hall, Hylacea walks away down the hall towards the portcullis and main hallway. The others follow her, and Alethia cleans the vomit off herself the best she can.
Marek heads back into the guard room to find a means of cleaning the vomit off himself, and sees that two of the dead Balam bodies are missing. There are also cobwebs at various places in the room that he doesn't realise the significance of. Exiting the room, he tells the others what he saw. There are signs of cobwebs all over the area where the Balam were dragged away. Hylacea sees that the drag marks lead down the long hallway past the portcullis to the wood doors at the far end.
The Heroes cautiously go down the well-lit, long hallway, seeing the drag marks and cobwebs the length of it. They examine the various rooms off the hallway, and Alethia takes the lead. The rooms are storerooms, one of them containing casks of ale and other beverages. Alethia tells the others to slake their thirst somewhat, and the Heroes do just that [recovering 1 Hero Point each].
The refreshed Heroes cautiously open the wooden door at the north end of the hall, and find themselves in a large chamber with brightly lit torches, some rubble, chairs, and tables. The bodies of two Balam lie in this area, their weapons at their sides and strewn on the ground. Hylacea brushes past her, entering the open area, and checks the bodies. Marek follows after her. The two find there are large bite marks on the bodies, spider bite marks...
While Macco keeps guard, Alethia checks out the door nearest them on the right hand wall, and finds it is slimy and smells bad. Hylacea comes up behind her, tells her what they found out about the bodies, and then says that she thinks the slime on the door is ordure. It's a midden, one that hasn't been cleaned out in some time.
Having left his spear by the Balam bodies while examining them, Marek cautiously makes his way to the door at the far end of the east wall, and tries to open it. The door resists his efforts. He attempts to use force against it to push his way in, and does so, but his strong pushing literally causes him to fall into the room! He looks around to realise he is in trouble... a giant, 1.5m spider clings to the ceiling in the corner! The room is a storage room, and he is relieved to see the Heroes' equipment, but is surprised to find two bodies (Balam) hanging in partial cocoons, several other cocooned victims suspended from the ceiling, and what appears to be Hylacea lying unconscious on the floor of the chamber! Before Marek can react, he is snared and enveloped in steel-like webbing, and cannot escape.
Not getting a response from Marek, Alethia goes to check on him, and sees him webbed on the ground - and she spots Hylacea's body lying there as well! She backs to the nearest wall, and looks to the Hylacea standing in the open area. "What did you expect?" says the figure, quickly assuming the form of the Lemurian alchemist, Eridu. Alethia throws the torch she's carrying into the room with Marek, Hylacea, and the spider. The Lemurian attacks her and Macco with magic, and they are both able to partially dodge the eldritch fire, and then Alethia charges the Lemurian. Her spear breaks on the invisible shield he's erected around himself. Macco attacks with his spear as well, but it shatters on impacting the shield. Grabbing up the spear Marek left on the ground, Alethia reverses it, and finds it much more effective. She and Macco break through the shield, but Macco's mace shatters. Macco and the Lemurian revert to fisticuffs, while Alethia continues to attack with the butt end of the spear. In an act of desperation, Alethia throws several handfuls of powder from the horn at the Lemurian, and the illusion being maintained is dispelled. The Lemurian resumes its true form - a 1.5m-long serpentine creature with suckers on the length of its body. Taken by surprise, the two Heroes use their available weapons (Macco a rock, and Alethia the butt of the spear) to crush the creature. In a last desperate attempt, the creature uses its Void ability, but both are able to resist the lure [using Hero Points to do so]. The serpentine creature dies. With its death, the illusion of the fortress begins to fade.
Alethia asks where the Talisman is, and seeing it she pounces on it. The Talisman of Koracq attempts to cajole and seduce Alethia into taking possession of the magical device, offering her power, the fulfillment of her Destiny, and other incentives, but she refuses when it offers to save her family (given that they were the ones who tried to sacrifice her). It changes its tune to one of forcing her to meet her Fate. Her dealing with the Talisman, heard by Macco and Hylacea, allows the Hesperian priestess-in-training the distraction she needs. With an accurate throw, Hylacea tosses a large vial containing the universal solvent, at the Talisman, causing it to disintegrate completely, with the exception of the small, 15.3 cm (6 inch) rod of Orichalcum.
With the destruction of the Talisman of Koracq, the illusory nature of the fortress becomes known, as it returns to its actual state - the ruins of a fortress dating back to the First Age of Atlantis. Alethia picks up the rod, and the Heroes have a frank discussion about that had gone on.
The Sunday gaming session of Atlantis: The Second Age wrapped up somewhat late, as the scenario itself ended in a most satisfactory manner insofar as I, the GM, was concerned. This scenario had a bit of everything, and there was even somewhat of a horror element to this session (if you've read the journal entry, you'll know exactly where that part was!).
I'm enjoying running the Atlantis: The Second Age game system, and find the game to be really easy to work with mechanically. So I'm looking forward to continuing to run the game next weekend. I think.