Sahauviia the Green (Kathy) - Atlantean Sorceress
Koomara Hadansi (Angela) - Galacean Scavenger
Orgaskemisqak (DavidM) - Lemurian Craftsman
Melucene Palleremos (Ellison) - Hesperian Priestess-in-Training
Vaino the One-Eyed (Mark) - Cimmerian Adventurer
19th Abu, Year 506 Meta Kataklysmos (M.K.)
The player Heroes stare in revulsion at the creature, both Melucene Palleremos and Vaino the One-Eyed nearly losing their stomach contents in the process. Revolted by the creature, Sahauviia the Green stares at it, and wracks her brain [Arcane Lore] to see if she can determine who/what it is - and comes up with a name - Baal-arnach [she spent 3 Hero Points to gain the information]. Addressing the creature by name, she asks if there are any... things that would leave the sanctuary of the ground. It addresses the Atlantean, saying that there are indeed things here that shun "the embrace of earth", and that two of them stand with her now. Vaino demands to know what it *is*, to which Baal-arnach responds that it is "one of the eldest as ever bestrode this earth". Looking around Koomara Hadansi sees that Orgaskemisqak the Metalworker is prepared to draw his hammer and face the creature, but warns that this chamber is no treasure room, it's a cell, and that two of the residents have chosen to absent themselves from its confines. The thing shifts several of its eyes from player Hero to player Hero, notably focusing on both Orga and Sahauviia. It says that it is imprisoned here and stands guard upon this rock. Confined, it cannot answer all of their questions. A set of bony spines that seem to flex and bend like poorly-jointed fingers emerge and stroke the area below one of the thing's mouths. It tells them that two of the chained victims here recently left, though it knows not where, but agrees to makes a deal with the characters, as they seem honourable: take up the spear, and fight it; it won't use its full power. When the Hero wins, it shall answer all their secret desires.
Melucene rallies and asks whether those who escaped were aided by others like the Heroes. None have escaped it says, several of it's mouths laughing bitterly, "and now you, too, are here with us all." Vaino gives a mighty roar and moves towards the spear, the haft of which is visible, just beside the creature, though the head of the spear is hidden behind the sarcophagus. As Vaino steps into the room, light blooms. Flames seem to leap from sconces in the wall casting wavering and leaping shadows. The light glows in strange blues and golds. The eyes of the two large bronze and iron statues, cast to resemble Tauran warriors, at each end of the sarcophagus glow a brilliant gold and steam slowly begins to issue from their nostrils. Melucene realises that Vaino is about to accept the challenge, and hisses at him to hold, asking why it needs him to remove the spear - is it trapped in the room or does it reside by purpose? She addresses that question towards Sahauviia, who shrugs her head in a helpless gesture. She explains that his name, Baal-arnach, can be used against him. The creature is a Demon, and says that if he chooses to fight him/it, she will fight at his side. The thing in the room sneers, and taunts the Cimmerian to pick up the spear and fight it in the name of truth. Sahauviia says that her mentor Kahloora, spoke about creatures like this, something to the effect that the emptiest amphora makes the loudest noise. With an effort of will, Vaino held himself in check, smiling at the creature, and postured himself before the creature. In a sing-song whisper, Sahauviia steps fully into the chamber, torch raised, and in the ancient tongue invokes its name and demands to know why they should use the spear to free it. The fiendish creature thrashes and howls, screaming and weeping when Sahauviia utters what she says is the thing's Name. All of its mouths are open, working and gnashing their teeth. Its limbs flail and beat at the ground, flinging ccrystal and brass and iron to crash upon the ground. The spear, however, stays still despite a faint quiver in its shaft. It says something in an ancient language, and the walls seem to shake slightly, dust and dirt raining from the ceiling as the creature thrashes. Sahauviia looks at the spear, then the beast, and using its true name again, asks ""If we were to free you, tell me honestly what you would do, Baal-Arnach." She turns to her fellow Heroes and tells them to trust her, and give her a moment. The creature continues to writhe and thrash, shouting and cursing in a variety of tongues and languages. Sahauviia's lips twitch and she touches Vaino's shoulder to gain his attention; once she has it she turns to Koomara and the others. She tells them they have some decisions to make, but not there, and gestures back up the hallway away from the room they're standing in. When the Heroes step out of the room and back into the hallway, the lights in the tomb dim starting with the glow in the eyes of the statues near the sarcophagus and ending with the lights along the walls. In the hallway, away from the tomb, it is possible to still hear the misshapen thing within still screaming faintly.
Away from the monster, Vaino nods his head at Sahauviia, and asks her what is going on. She smiles at the Cimmerian, and says they need to kill it, but that they can't remove the spear because it pins the creature in place. She asks if any of them have brass weapons, but none of them do. She says that she knows something of the creature, though not personally. A malicious look appears on her face. "If you want to cause one pain and force its hand, use its name," she says. The sounds from the crypt die down again. A few grains of dust drift lazily down from the ceiling. Orga has calmed down by this point, and says that while he's all for vanquishing evil, the question is can they face it and destroy it? "Personally, I have always preferred to hear songs sung about me while I'm in the room. This beast seems beyond us." But he adds that he's with his companions, no matter what. Sahauviia suggests it might be best to block the area off, trap it for longer than it would take to heal. They can't actually kill it, though they could ask it about those trapped here, and who else left. Vaino gets to the heart of the matter, saying that the large doors are brass but too big to use for weapons, so perhaps looking around some more might allow them to find better weapons or brass to use. The others agree.
The Heroes agree to this plan, and all eyes stray to the other two doorways that lead from the chamber with the shifting and clacking mosaics. Vaino points to the doors directly across from the demon's lair, the ones to the left of their original entrance, saying that something moved through there, so the should check there next. Vaino approaches the door, Koomara close behind him. At first, the door seems locked or perhaps stuck, its wooden beams swollen with time and moisture. Vaino puts a shoulder to the door and shoves, and nearly the entire thing breaks inward. He stumbles slightly, but quickly rights himself amidst the rotten chunks of ancient oak.
Inside seems to be a library of sorts. Light filters down from holes in the ceiling and the walls are interspersed with niches for storing scrolls or books in between what must have once been an orderly and organized garden. Somewhere within there is the sound of burbling water, though the Heroes can't currently see the source. A blanket of steam curls lazily through the air and the Heroes can hear a faint hissing from somewhere inside. Now, however, the smell of rot and vegetation fills the room. The plants have overgrown their original troughs. Vines have climbed the walls, covering the ceiling and parts of the floor. Strange bushes or miniature trees grow from the walls, their roots spilling forth to the floor. The air is thick and humid and hot. Orga tells the others that he recognises some elements of the vegetation as being Lemurian in origin. He seems quite at ease here. A few paces in from the door is a pedestal upon which rests an open book. Moving towards it cautiouly, Sahauviia and Melucene discover the pages of this book seem to be made of thin sheets of crystal. Each "page" appears to be a series of vertical columns of these thin crystals, bound to the next by wires of bronze. A faint light shines up from somewhere in the pedestal, through the book, to provide steady illumination here in the entrance alcove.
Vaino and Orga look around less than curiously at the various books, sparing a bit more of a glance at the crystal book. The Cimmerian shows more interest in the light streaming down from above, and while Orga watches, Vaino uses the tip of his spear, and pushes aside plants and vines, searching the room. Letting her torch dip while she looks at the crystal book, Sahauviia and Melucene manifest the same expression of quiet awe and tremendous appreciation for the book and the "magic" behind it. The book seems to be mainly decorative, though there are some runes carved into the pages that name this place: The Library of Simbellat Khor.
As Vaino pokes and prods around the room, it is clear that there is some manner of outside air and water reaching this room. The light, however, seems to be artificial or at least cunningly crafted. A series of shafts are cut into the ceiling, but they seem to turn away fairly rapidly. Polished sheets of metal and crystal are put into the corners to reflect and focus light down into the room. The shafts are fairly narrow, but they might be wide enough for a man without armour to drag himself through. The plants have taken over, however, and ruined a great deal of what might once have been an orderly and wealthy garden, though Orga dismisses Vaino's contemplations, breathing in the full fragrance and earthiness of the plant life present. While Vaino pokes around, a small metal contraption begins to whir near his feet, clicking and hissing in an alarming manner...
This was an exhausting, but fun session of the Atlantis: The Second Age campaign with the Friday night group (on a Saturday evening), and I had a good time running though my brain was a bit fried from the lack of sleep that I'd had and the exhausting Saturday afternoon. While there wasn't a whole lot of physical conflict in this session, though the players were bristling a bit at that, there was some good interaction between the characters, some elements of psychological conflict, and a good deal of entertainment along the way. The players found this session to be the most "weird" game session of Atlantis: The Second Age up to this point, with an almost alien quality to it, and David told me that it seemed surreal to him at times. A good thing.
I'm looking forward to the next session with the Friday gaming group, and am not even going to try to let the feeling from this session dissipate if I can avoid it. We'll see how it shapes up.