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Re: 1879: The Expendables
Posted: Wed Aug 21, 2019 1:23 am
Atlas, Step Expedition
Written and Illustrated by Erica Withakay
<copy of map(10) to Step pyramid> The map is obviously of native design, as a Frenchman is incapable of making such quality work. It is done as if the cartographer had actually been to the pyramid.
Apparently they were intelligent enough to put a rudimentary cypher on their information. Now if only they would write in a civilized language, things would be much nicer.
The bipedal lizards seem to have a mystical form of camouflage, their skin changing at near imperceptible speeds. It is reminiscent of the chameleon in the zoo. The Frenchmen were likely killed by these bipedal lizards, though one was larger than others. <illustration of footprint with dimensions(10)>
The Bipedal lizards are pack style hunters. They seemed to be testing our defenses, so it was determined that we would show them that we were not prey. <detailed illustration of lizard with dimensions(8)>
Dr. Ferris McFly's Journal
Posted: Wed Aug 21, 2019 5:50 pm
One of these days I should really learn the names of my fellow party members. Up to this point, I have been referring to them as “god enthusiast,” “machete troll,” “naked spell lady” and “photograph hunter.” Scratch that, their real names could not be better than those descriptions. Still wondering if I should bother with our guide’s name, although he may literally be called “Guide”. As in, “It was Guide’s fault we were thrown into the water.” I certainly hope Guide can’t understand Irish.
I have been warned not to lick trees. Surprisingly, this information is quite useful. I was planning on examining the trees for resin I could use to coat future shields. The knowledge passed on by the other expedition members (who’s names I have purposely chosen to ignore) has proven invaluable to avoiding death in this pursuit. The lady of mud asked me if I was sure the locals said anything about lizards that walk on all fours. I assured her they only warned me of the bipedal variety we had encountered earlier. Of course, now I am equally scared of the prospect there are even more dangerous reptilian creatures about and I am starting to wonder how much I truly risked to get a free meal so very long ago.
We have stumbled upon a French expedition, or at least their lifeless bodies. At first, I suspected they were mimes engaging in a sort of interpretive art installation, but it turns out they were simply dead. Some artists are apparently more committed than others. While the naked spell lady stared at a ring, I endeavored to pry a satchel from beneath one of the bodies. The brief smell of elderberries distracted me, but I was able to utilize a branch to pull the strap without having to touch anything French. The satchel contained various papers with many unnecessarily French words, full of pretentious apostrophes and far too many “E”s. Most concerning was the content of the papers, which described a mission very similar to our own. It appears this was another group hired by a lord to research a mystery in the jungle. If only they had not suffered the disadvantage of being French, they might have made it too. Luckily, they did have a useful map that will shorten our travel time significantly. I committed it to memory. We considered burying the three unfortunate adventurers, but lacked the required trebuchet and 21 baguette salute. It was probably for the best, as they can now continue the impromptu art piece, which I shall refer to as The Body Exhibit from this point onward. On the bright side, I salvaged a “lovingly used” pair of pants. I fear I will need many of these as we explore deeper into the jungle.
As night started to fall, I aided the lethal lensman in setting up a photo trap to catch one of these bipedal lizards on camera. As legend has it, the lizards believe taking their photo will steal their soul, so this plan is sound. I also worked with the troll to clean weapons found at The Body Exhibit. While I may be skilled at building modern marvels of technology, basic maintenance and cleaning was never my strong suit. However, this troll has military experience. Despite his best efforts, though, my ability to fix a basic firearm or sharpen a machete remains substandard. I shall put it on my bucket list. For those not aware, a “bucket list” is a list of things to accomplish before you inevitably get your head stuck in a water bucket and die of asphyxiation.
The hunter and I took first watch that night, at which point we were greeted by four scaly friends. They stayed in the shadows, but had a hunger in their eyes that made them both terrifying and relatable. It was not long after being relieved from watch that our compatriots told us we would need to address our unwanted guests sooner rather than later. I tossed out the Honeycomb, threw Goldblum’s Legacy in the ground behind me and unholstered the FOSE. We stood in a circle as the monsters befell us. However, these lizards had never encountered the power of exhibitionism and our scantily clad companion had half of them down before they could even move. The troll downed another and the hunter seriously annoyed the last. Finally, this was my time to shine. Perhaps I would finally shoot something with success. And lo, on this night, I would finally hit something with a projectile weapon. A searing bolt cut through the air and dropped the last one instantaneously. As the rest of the party went about dealing with the other three unconscious lizards, I stood above my scaly victim. Flashbacks of all the leathery evil that had befallen me up to this point came rushing back at that moment. I thought of the winged demons that ruined my afternoon nap upon the airship. I mourned the loss of my stun staff at the hands of the water monsters known as “crocodiles”. I lamented the loss of a perfectly good pair of pants to one of these overly-curious reptilians. And then, with fury in my eyes, I began shooting the lizard repeatedly.
I am become death, destroyer of lizards. I am the 1.0 and the 2.0. They may take my life, but they shall never take my pants again. I’m just a boy, standing in front of a burning lizard, asking it to fear me. I’m here to kick arse and chew bubblegum and I haven’t invented bubblegum. Nobody puts Ferris in a corner!
Suddenly, I snapped out of my fugue state, as my party rushed to pull me from my conquest. What strange feeling has befallen me? Is this what it feels like to be useful in a combat situation? Such a feeling is new and strange, but I enjoy it with pulsating excitement.
Re: 1879: The Expendables
Posted: Thu Aug 22, 2019 1:23 am
Oh good grief!
Re: 1879: The Expendables
Posted: Thu Aug 22, 2019 10:25 am
I am finding Dr. McFly's entries vastly amusing. How many references can he jam into a single paragraph? Getting multiple points of view of the same set of encounters is also good, so please, everyone keep posting. This has been most amusing.
Re: 1879: The Expendables
Posted: Thu Aug 22, 2019 5:45 pm
It's even more amusing if you imagine McFly's Irish accent while reading his journal. At least, it's more amusing to WRITE it if I imagine the accent.
Re: 1879: The Expendables
Posted: Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:32 pm
Atlas, Step Expedition
<encrypted(6)> Written and Illustrated by Erica Withakay
<Illustration of Step Pyramid, estimations of heights(10)>
The Pyramid has Flora that is different from Native Flora. It seems like it had been transplanted from some other place. It seems familiar, yet I am unsure of how.
<encryption(12)> Oh Gods, it is another rabbit hole. I am unsure if it leads through to an area like Fort Alice. <Illustration of the pattern seen outside the Step Pyramid(Magic Theory(18)>
The French had adequately located two traps within the path. The first being a set of darts that fired from pressure plates on the stairs. The next was a pitfall trap about halfway down the next set of stairs.
1879: The Expendables - McFly's Journal
Posted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 5:26 pm
In the interest of not getting bitten or clawed to death, my newest project would be a shield. Not a shield like my deployable Honeycomb, but a physical shield I could strap to my forearm. Since the photographically-inclined hunter had set aside a number of crocodile skins for such a thing, I began working with the leather to build something equally light and strong. My efforts seemed to pay off with the added benefit of being quite stylish. I imagine these shields would be quite the rage in Paris, although I have not encountered a living Frenchman on this expedition to test that hypothesis. Once the shield looked hard and round, I used my advanced scientific mind to enhance it even further. My great innovation? Smear some resin on it. I must credit naked spell lady for pointing out the useful ingredients in this resin. It will only harden for limited periods when I activate it’s tower shield mode, making it much larger and harder, perfect for hiding under when attacked by lizards. This was done by design. Now that I have a working model, I can attempt to recreate it with the other crocodile skins for the rest of the expedition. One day soon, a hope to equip us all with the “Rock of Crocodiles”.
After a long journey and multiple pairs of pants, we have arrived at the steppe pyramid. The entrance was obvious enough to locate, but it’s dark, foreboding nature mixed with the lateness of our arrival prompt the party to set up camp before venturing deeper. By my suggestion, we made sure to set up camp on a level above the entrance as I hear the higher ground is indicative of success in combat. Who knows what evil lives in this place? And we all know that evil is much weaker during the day. That’s just science.
Something odd has happened. Correction, many odd things have happened. The first occurred when spell lady used astral sight to see the unseen. What she witnessed seemed shocking. Curious to be apprised of such shocking things, I begged the troll soldier to grab one of the large glass-wing butterflies for me, which he snatched out of the air with ease. Using a basic chemical compound derived from local flora, I approximated my formula for astral sight screen. It’s a lotion of sorts I was toying with back in my Limerick workshop that can be applied to clear surfaces to peer into the astral plane. You can also use it on your skin for a healthy glow and sun protection, assuming you are fine with being blue for 8-12 hours afterwards. Anyway, I did the obvious thing of spreading this lotion on the butterfly’s wings and placing the very-confused insect on the bridge of my nose. You know, typical science stuff. As it flapped it’s wings, I saw brief glimpses into the astral, with bright lights of indescribable colors, but mostly purple. It was at this point that spell lady had a better idea and produced her goggles for lotion application. After placing a small leash on my new butterfly companion, I set it down and put on the goggles. This proved more effective and caused a revelation: it wasn’t so much purple as magenta. Also, there appears to be a sizable doorway to another world that resembles the Rabbit Hole. That was also important. Note that I had little understanding of the Rabbit Hole up to this point, especially compared to my fellow travelers who were more personally affected by it’s presence. To me, it seemed like another annoyance in an already annoying world and I accurately predicted it would raise property values in my area. Tourism has been a nightmare ever since.
In the morning, I went to fetch my butterfly friend I now called The Stranger. Alas, my lotion had hardened it’s wings and it expired in the night, yet it lived more in one day than most butterflies live in a lifetime... which is usually a month. Soon a realized I could fashion a frame around Stranger and place a small stick handle near it’s side to make a very regal pair of astral spectacles. I shall name it “Stranger Wings” in it’s honor. This shall also be all the rage in Paris. Perhaps I should talk to the hunter about a small measure of taxidermy... I wish Stranger to be preserved for all of time as long as it’s wings are intact. As an added benefit, the wings can still fold up so long as rigor mortis has not set in.
Regretfully, we started our decent into the pyramid. Whoever built this was either particularly short or exceptional at limbo. The stairs wound their way downward, as my party crawled through each descent. I, however, had a much better idea and rode my new Rock of Crocodiles down the staircase like a slide. In addition to being faster and less work overall, it was the most enjoyable part of this expedition since I had that free dinner back in London.
We came across some strange glyphs on the wall. The spell lady has been trying her many magical tricks to decipher them, but to no avail. However, I think they make perfect sense. As I read it: snake, cat, bird, monkey, water, bigger snake, watersnake, wind, snake and bird armwrestling, cat on a hot pitch roof, my mother, tree, monkey protesting deforestation, three snakes in the wind, a tree caught in a cat, magenta monkey washing dishes, cat scratch fever, catbird versus monkeysnake, my father’s disapproval and double rainbow. But what does it all mean?
Re: 1879: The Expendables
Posted: Sat Sep 14, 2019 11:17 am
The journal of Lord Bentley Bootle, Day 24 out of Caracas
In the 4 days since we killed the lizards we have traveled rapidly. Without discussing it, we have decided to live off of our carried rations and limit our hunting and foraging to firewood, which we always forage for in groups. Despite (or perhaps because of) our precautions we have seen nothing dangerous.
Today we crossed over the ridge into a large valley. Looking down into the valley we spotted the step pyramid that is our objective. It is only somewhat overgrown, and only with underbrush and vines, so it's unique shape was easy to spot. Despite it looking to be very close, the terrain between here and there looks to be very challenging.
The journal of Lord Bentley Bootle, Day 27 out of Caracas
We arrived at the step pyramid yesterday, and are currently within it!
It took two hard days of machete work to win the seemingly short distance between the rim of the valley and here. We found the camp that the French were using, but decided to camp upon the pyramid itself. It is a great inconvenience as far as carrying water and firewood is concerned, but we feel safer having the high ground and relatively clear fields of approach. Of course we have no idea if the pyramid itself is dangerous. But since we will planned on entering the structure, merely camping upon it seemed little additional danger.
The pyramid is huge. We have not yet taken any of the scientific measurements that we plan to, but by eyeball, each of the four sides are well over 100 yards across at the base, and has 8 levels, each level is 15 to 20 feet above the next. When we arrived there was a recently hacked path up the side to the 5th level, where there was a clearly obvious entrance. We put our camp upon the 6th level.
The plants and bugs on and around the pyramid are weird. Or so I am told. Not native to this region. Also, many of the bugs are uncommonly large (I saw several that were 6 inches long). I have spent many a happy afternoon in museums of natural history, and have occasionally wandered into the bug rooms, and have never seen anything like what we started finding within a half mile of this pyramid. Of course the bipedal dinosaurs we saw a few dozen miles from here, nor the flying dinosaurs we saw more than a thousand miles from here don't seem to be native to this region ether, or at least not native to this time.
After our laborious climb up the pyramid, we were all admiring the view. I walked to all 4 sides of the 6th level, hoping to spot from above a good place to photograph the pyramid. From the side we approached, the jungle is right up against the base. I would need to be a good 80 yards or more from the structure to encompass the whole thing in one exposure, but looking around the only vantage point I could find were some particularly tall trees. As we all admired the view from 3/4 of the way up, we saw trees swaying as if a truly enormous creature of some sort was moving thorough them, shaking them as a man will shake a bush he is pushing his way past.
This was very worrying, but we all got sidetracked when Withakay made an exclamation and started talking gibberish. Ferris appeared to take some sort of meaning in what she said, because he got into the sack of junk that he carries with him and started pulling out jars and mixing stuff up. Soon both of them were talking very excitedly, but not making the least bit of sense. They kept pointing at the pyramid we were standing upon and exclaiming about how huge and bright it was. Well huge I was willing to grant them, but bright? It was just a dull brown stone! Eventually Withakay handed around the goggles she wears, and explained that they allow her to view astral space. When viewed through these, the pyramid was very different! There were lines like pulsing energy running all through it. Withakay said it was the largest "pattern" that she had ever seen, then almost immediately contradicted herself, She had seen one "pattern" just as big, and it was the famous Rabbit Hole of Greenwich. Then she said that the pattern that we were quit literally standing on top of reminded her a very, very lot of the Rabbit Hole, so much so that we immediately began to expect that this might be a very similar gateway between two worlds.
The pyramid is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. The pyramid, as it is now, is very clearly visible from dozens of miles away. Yet the natives claim to have only within the last few years noticed it! Upon close examination, it gives every impression to our inexpert eyes of being of typical (ancient) local design and construction, but of course structures such as this have not been constructed since the Spanish came hundreds of years ago. Yet it does not look to have been abandoned for more than a few dozen years! As I wrote in my last entry a few days ago, there are no trees growing upon it yet. The underbrush and Vines that are growing over it are covering it completely, but are anchored in a soil that is only a scant inch thick. But each shrub or vine that dies will thicken the soil, deepening it and nourishing it. It strikes me that it can't be very many more years until trees, scrawny and shallow rooted finally manage to take root. I would expect that in less than 100 years, if left undisturbed, this structure will be so covered in good deep soil and trees that it could easily be mistaken for a large hill, rather than being recognizable from any great distance as a structure.
So the mystery of the pyramid is many fold. How could it not have been seen until just a few years ago? In such a lush jungle, how did it avoid becoming covered up in trees? Why are the plants and animals so different from anything else in the area? And is there anything like the Rabbit Hole within it?
In the days to come we are going to explore the inside most carefully, but also the outside in order to prove or disprove my latest theory. I am thinking that this was built by the ancient Mayans, or Inca's or whichever barbarian tribes lived in this area, but that somehow and for some reason it shifted over to some other world (perhaps the Gruv? perhaps some other new world?). Wherever it shifted to, it was not a jungle, and was not suited for vegetation to totally bury structures such as this. At sometime in the last few years, (maybe when the Rabbit Hole was created? or when the Rabbit Hole opened?) the pyramid shifted back to here. The plants and animals upon, and maybe nearby shifted as well. I wonder if when we explore the topmost levels, we will find the remains of a nest, such as giant flying dinosaurs might make?
Anyway, this is all just speculation right now, today we have been exploring the inside of the pyramid. We entered at the entrance on the 5th level. There was no door, just a corridor that ended in a T junction. We took the left hand fork, and went down some stairs. Upon the stairs we found the several week old body of what we presume to be another Frenchman. He had apparently died from many poison darts. Eventually we came to a room with two doors, each blocked by massive stones. One stone had been recently pushed ajar. We went though that door and stairs continued to descend. We found some steps missing, and what appeared to be a native porter impaled upon spikes in a pit, also several weeks dead.
After we had gone down enough stairs that we calculate that we are about at ground level, we are in another room with two doors blocked by massive stones, these are both fully closed. Both doors have hieroglyphic writing upon them, but we can't decipher them. I have photographed both.
I write this during a brief rest before we attempt to open one of the doors.
Re: 1879: The Expendables
Posted: Sat Sep 14, 2019 7:54 pm
Can't believe I didn't see the Stranger Wings joke coming. Ungh. The glyphs as Rorschach blots at the end was amusing, but I felt there was a Talking Heads joke there that could have been made. Rock of Crocodiles. Yeah.
Going to be very interesting where this goes. The Gruv is not the only world out there, which we'll be getting into later on, and the trods, well, they go where and when they will.
Re: 1879: The Expendables
Posted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 7:26 pm
As we approached the next doorway full of unknown dangers, we encountered a new problem. Some discourteous animal had decided to die right next to the door on the opposite side, blocking our passage. While we could get it slightly ajar, enough for three of us to squeeze through, our resident troll was not able to do so. After constructing an elaborate pulley system with the spell lady’s climbing gear, we were able to dislodge this bad omen to proceed further. It wasn’t much longer before we encountered a pressure plate and slits in the wall. Yes, even more bad omens. Using my Honeycomb and Rock of Crocodiles, we blocked the slits while spell lady disarmed the trap. Fortunately, she found some bits and bobs that proved educational. Specifically a piece of fiber rope strengthened with a resin similar to the one I used previously. Instead of making objects rock hard, this resin kept the rope pliable. I feel like I could have used this to keep Stranger alive or make some sturdier pants. Either way, I shall remember this in the future.
After coming to another junction, we stupidly decided to take the route where beasts have obviously tread before. I suppose I could list this under hazard pay for my expense report. As I feared, we ran across a hole that was definitely not part of the original pyramid design. Likely it was blasted to create a new route through this place. These people were obviously fans of being eaten. I again blame the French. Worse yet, we found another blasted hole in the main chamber and a large bi-horned creature eating weeds. Luckily, this “bihornizard” was so mesmerized by this plant it was munching on to worry about munching on me. The photo hunter took it upon himself to try climbing through this large hole that appeared to lead outside. Troll and spell lady looked through boxes in search of new treasures, of which they discovered a lovely golden jaguar statue. In my opinion, this is the only acceptable type of jaguar: immobile and made of precious metals. I spent my time admiring the architecture of this place, especially it’s unstable nature. I thought it a good idea to alert the hunter to this information, right around the time he tripped and fell down. Perhaps I was a tad late on that warning. Worse yet, it appears that whatever force created said hole has destabilized this new Rabbit Hole. As always, we quickly blamed the French. This is definitely above my pay-grade, or at least that will be the case I make to Lord Hastings upon our return. If he decides to increase my pay-grade, I suppose that is simply a compromise I will reluctantly accept before heading off on a therapeutic shopping spree.