AAR [5-M] Salt Cellar 2020-5-23 @16:00GMT

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Journal: Temur Tengerkhan

Post by bronzemountain » Sat May 23, 2020 9:33 pm

Song of the Immortal Sky - Part 6
Know that the Bringer of Crags, who is often called Storbrout, did wish to renew his dedication to great and prosperous Grekaklank. Know that Temur, of the Monkhiin-Tenger, did find this a noble undertaking and joined with Jael Bunny-Friend, Xeviouz of the Forgotten Sword, Patient Norg, and Moe'Uhane the River of Dreams.

Together, they traveled with four score mules to find the place known as Salt Cellar. Here, there was rich salt to be mined. And here, also, was perhaps a Kaer, locked away beneath that grainy treasure.

Know that mules are tasty in the eyes of griffins. Five of them swooped out of the sky, black dots against the bright sun as they dove. Glorious as they spread their wings and set to claiming their meals. This was noble battle, both sides just and fair. The griffins were, some, convinced by the Bunny-Friend to try their luck another time. Others were wounded and left to retreat. One, sadly, was killed.

The caravan continued on and came to a cliff that overlooked the blasted, salted lands that surrounded the Kaer and the mine.

Know that the Adepts did carry large wolves like tender children down the side of the cliff. Know that they entered the mine, surrounded by shattered crystals and ventured into the unknown.

There, the tunnels did wind and turn and circle with dizzying complexity. There were cave-ins that were barely avoided. Air that smelled bad and sapped the strength and had to be freed from its bottled room. There were tricks, where rooms had been dressed to look like Kaers.

There were also bats which howled so powerfully that they left the world spinning and drove the adepts to their knees with vertigo. There were dark winged things with poisoned stingers, later identified as Shadowmants, that silently floated from the shadows and drove venom deep into the veins of the Adepts.

This was a furious, pitched battle, with many of the Adepts wounded. Blessed be to Kelia, whose antidote saved many lives that day. After long battle, with broken ribs and sprained knees and at least one bad back, the Adepts were victorious.

Further exploration revealed a pool covered in tricky ensorcelled algae. These were a clever people, these denizens of Salt Cellar.

Know that they had obscured their Kaer such that Horrors could not see them, for the algae disturbed Astral space in a way that made them believe the place was already corrupted. Know that not only was this Kaer hidden beneath salt, but also beneath water. Know that their fish are delicious and that the vegetarian hurlg they make is potent and fine.

The Bringer of Crags and the people of Salt Cellar made trade with each other, and Temur and the others returned to Throal, rich in salt.

Know that this story has ended. Know that this story continues.

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Re: AAR [5-M] Salt Cellar 2020-5-23 @16:00GMT

Post by Xzandrate » Sat May 23, 2020 11:31 pm

From the writings of Moe'uhane, T'skrang Illusionist, 4th Circle

Strorbout Cragdigger came to see me, he was searching for adepts to accompany his caravan in re-establishing the salt trade to the Salt Cellar mine. Word was that the workers and their families had constructed a rudimentary kaer of their own design. Strorbout hoped to restore find the kaer undamaged and re-establish communication. He had recruited some familiar faces for our party. Norg the gauntlet whom I had adventured with recently (and shared my suspicion of the Salt Cellar), Temur the spirit/war rider, and Xeviouz the warrior. Finally we were joined by what appeared to be another party unto themselves, Jael the elven beastmaster with his animal companions Fang, and Ebony. Fang was a large wolf, and Ebony I am told was a shadow preces. Strorbout handed us a rod with a button and a paper with a series of marks on it and advised us this is how we would communicate with the kaer and the paper was the message. We were all rather puzzled by this, but through trial and error we eventually discovered the rod would deliver a small shock when the button was pressed. We checked with a number of contacts to find out how it was supposed to work and were advised by a messenger that the paper was message in drum notation, and by holding the button for different durations we could represent a dot or dash to convey the message to the other party.

We met his caravan and my group at the gates of Throal. We were met by Strorbout, eight mule tenders, and eighty mules. Almost all of the mules were laden with trade goods. I have not much affinity for animals, and on this journey I learned much of the demeanor of the mule. For example, once laden, the beast will travel until such time as it deems it is time to stop, and if you do not stop it will throw it's load and roll on the ground. They will also do the same if you stop for a break, it believes it is time to stop and the pack must come off. To prevent such behavior, we travelled for most of the day straight, and made camp early in the afternoon to protect the load. Strorbout admitted that he knew there was to be an old trade road around here, and thought he had caught glimpses of it, but felt we had strayed from it and asked us to scout the area. Temur did some riding and felt that we were heading in the correct direction and we should see the mine by the end of the next day.

That next morning we re-loaded the mules and began along our way. About midday we heard a sound just before we saw a pair of mules go down in a flurry of feathers. Griffons descended upon us. Jael directed his companions to draw out one of griffons on the nearest mule, Ebony drew the griffon one direction, while Fang pounced from the other. Jael then used his abilities to cow one of the beasts, having it lay down and play dead. As a second one swopped towards him, he did the same to it. Temur eventually caught up to the middle of the train where Jael and I were and helped the animals finish one of the griffons. The other griffon finished tearing a suitable reward out of the other mule and fled. At this point Norg and Xeviouz came from the front of the train and indicated they had downed another griffon. We cleared the path while Jael tended to the wounded mule, while the rest of us had the train push forward, Jael used the down mule to appeal to the two dominated griffons. He didn't come back with a third pet, so it must not have went so well. A short time later we saw our first glimpses of the mine . . . about a hundred feet below the cliff we were standing on. We surveyed the surrounding area with Strorbout and he felt that they could blaze a trail of switchbacks in a loose hillside we could see from the cliff. He expected it would be three days, and suggested we go forward and attempt to make contact with the miners. We combined the rope the party had available and were able to climb to the bottom of the cliff with only some small issues, Jael seemed very distracted by the safety of his babies and slipped briefly.

Finally we set forth into the mine, checking past a small decoy sleeping area that had a large store broken into, as well as a series of administration rooms that were empty from the centuries of neglect. This led us towards the winding tunnels of the mine. As we started to descent lower stone leapt from the ground and exploded, indicating company was not appreciated. As we continued further, there were many chambers and tunnels and shafts for air circulation, what tipped us off to heading in the right direction was the deadfall trap that everyone narrowly escaped. After a short time of digging we made enough space for all of us to crawl through and continued along the tunnel. More on edge than before, our attention was drawn by some sounds from behind us, we turned to see a series of shrieker bats descending upon us. Their dizzying wails obviously affecting some of the party and they staggered back and forth, at this same time the shout from the front drew my attention. Norg had been skewered by a shadowmant and was on his knee himself. Two more descended and began to punish the pets and Xeviouz. The party circled together to gain our bearings and prepared to defend ourselves, I ensorcelled everyone in the image of a great Brithan as we attempted to push back. One of the shadowmants moved as if possessed and hit Norg and Xeviouz again, I could feel the illusion flicker, it was aware. As Jael weaved from the sickness the bats provided he landed a hit on the nearest shadowmant and felled it, Xeviouz followed suit soon afterwards as his weapon grew in size, throwing off our opponents. The battle slowly turned, but not without more bloodshed; arrows, pets, and magical bolts helped keep the bats somewhat at bay while the melee line finished the remaining shadowmant, with the distracting threat gone the remaining bats fled.

At this point we made our way back to the entrance and camped within the abandon living quarters. Most everyone felt at least serviceable the next day so we started to make our way back down. As we began towards the deadfall some of the party noticed the air had gone sour. Temur deduced that an air shaft had become blocked, at least that is what I got from the description of the spirits of the air ancestors charging into the felled rock of the mine. We found what looked to be the blockage and began to clear the passage, but in truth most of us cleared a target for Norg, as the first rocks were pulled away his fist buried into the stone up to his elbow causing debris to fly everywhere. We could feel the stale air rush by as we stepped out of the way. We began back down the way we had previously explored, since it was the most uninviting to guests, it seemed the most likely to be hiding. Our persistence led us to a large chamber with a sphere of salt with intricate reliefs carved into it partially submerged within a small lake. Off to the side there was an altar to Garlen raised up looking over the lake. We examined the area, trying to find where the rod could be inserted. As he ad previously, Norg used the rod to touch anything he could with it, and as he stuck it into the lake he was struck still. He then turned to us and said the voices in his head demanded we do a greeting ritual . . . we all agreed that doing an artisan test was a VERY good idea. None of us appeared tainted, and Norg's voices directed us to the altar. As we stood exchanging concerned glances over Norg's voices a bolt of lightning arced out from the top of the salt sphere and when we opened our eyes were stood in front of group of people. The kaer inhabitants performed their half of the greeting ritual and we began discussions. We advised them of the situation of the world outside and that we came to re-establish trade. They advised us of how their ancestors had skewed the visage of the mine, salting the earth around the mine and developing an astral masking algae to obfuscate their entrance and their kaer from the outside world. They had a number of unique uses with the salt, having a number of healing items that seemed deeply soothing. Additionally they had stocked an underground saltwater lake with fish that should be leagues away within an ocean. We learned much from them and began to lead them out to meet Strorbout and his mule train. We assisted in the reclamation of the area surrounding the mine, having to kill some bonecracker nymph scorpions of some unusual sizes. We found the remains of other fallen adventurers, and among them a sword that Xeviouz retrieved.

The area was cleared and the trade restored, salt could once again flow to Throal, and the taste buds of the populace would reap the benefit.

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Re: AAR [5-M] Salt Cellar 2020-5-23 @16:00GMT

Post by sigfriedmcwild » Sat May 30, 2020 7:39 am

From "Notes on the world outside the kaers" as penned by Norg

Strorbout Cragdigger, a prominent merchant and questor of Chorrolis, reached out asking for escort on a mission to attempt to make contact with a kaer hidden in the mountains. Now, bringing a kaer back into the world is already a worthy endeavour, even when driven by mercantile interests, but I knew I had to be present when the merchant offhandedly named the kaer the "salt cellar".

The very same place from whence the giant horror construct of the "crystal dominion" had come to attack Rama's liferock, I had to go to see if any traces of the foul entity still lingered. Moe the t'skrang Illusionist apparently felt the same drive as he was also part of the escort, together with Jael, Xeviouz, and an orc I had not the pleasure of meeting before named Temur.

Strorbout claimed to have a tool for contacting the kaer, a metal rod a couple of feet in length, featureless but for a button at one end, accompanied by a paper marked in dots and dashes. Our fumblings with the rod did not reveal much other than pressing the button would produce a mild shock at the other end. Credit for this discovery goes to Xeviouz, although Jael deserves a mention as he was the one that actually detected the effect, being the target of some good natured poking. Temur took the paper to another adept, an expert in ciphers, and was told that the dots and dashes represented a sequence of presses of the button, short for a dot and longer for the dashes. Presumably there is some device near the kaer's entrance that is designed to detect the shocks.

Master Cragdigger spent the next three days preparing his caravan of eighty mules and eight dwarves, loading them with goods that a newly opened kaer would desire. Once we left progress was slow and mules cannot carry their loads for very long and are as stubborn as a troll. I did not envy the dwarves tending them. Our employer led us along what he claimed to be an old wagon road winding its way up into the mountains. A few days of into the journey he told us he was unable to find anymore traces of the road, but Temur and Jael managed to guide us on.

The following day is when we started actually earning our pay. Just after we set out in the morning, a pack of griffins descended on the caravan, killing two of the mules before we could react. I was also on the receiving end of a griffin's dive and I have to admit it was rib crackingly unpleasant. As usual when fighting beasts Jael was a huge asset commanding a couple of the slower griffins to just sit out the fight, while we chased off the others with no further losses.

The day's travel ended at the top of a hundred foot cliff overlooking a blighted plain dotted with ruined buildings and sporting a large hole. Master Cragdigger informed us that it would take at least three days to clear a path down the cliff suitable for the mules, so we decided that we would climb down and scout ahead the next day.

Dropping down the cliff was easy, even while carrying Fang in my pack. The wolf still did not seem to like me, despite my best efforts, but Jael managed to convince him to acquiesce to being carried for the duration of the climb. The walk to the mine's entrance did not reveal any hidden dangers or anything that looked like it was the receptacle for the rod.

The mine entrance itself was little more than a hole with a spiral path carved in it. Inside the mine we found some traces of recent presence, including what looked like attempts at building a salt statue even bigger than the one we had faces a few weeks prior. We progressed deeper into the mine keeping an eye out for anything that looked like it could receive the rod.

What we found instead was massive network of tunnels, traps, more tunnels, what looked like a foreman's office, yet more tunnels, a shrine to Chorrolis carved into the rock, tunnels and a cave in trap. Shortly after we had cleared a path through the cave in, Temur felt something following us just before we were ambushed by Shrieker Bats and Shadowmants. The bats provided an annoyance counterpoint to the lethality of the larger beasts. The shadowmant facing me managed to get a hit with its stinger and a couple of good bites in before I could react, while the others kept on getting disoriented by the bats screeches. By the time we had dealt with the beasts we all felt like some rest was in order.

The foreman's office provided shelter that evening and into the next morning, as Temur and I recovered from our injuries. For the first time in my adventures I found myself without the assistance of a physician even if we all had ample healing supplies, something that I decided to remedy in the future.

The second day in the mines was much like the first, tunnel after endless tunnel, until Jael thought that some air did not smell right. We immediately back off, Temur thought that we could clear it by opening a hole in a side passage that had caved in. As the resident expert in hitting things until they break, I was the one to take that honour.

Not long after we found a large pool of water, with a twenty foot sphere of salt hovering above it. At the top of the sphere was what looked like a metal rod, similar to the one we carried. On the shore was a an altar to Garlen also carved from salt and the walls were decorated to match. The first thing we tried was to press the rod to the altar, with no effect. Struck by a sudden inspiration, or maybe frustration, I stuck the business end of the rod in the pool and sent the message, this immediately resulted in voices speaking into my head asking for a greeting ritual.

I relayed this to my companions who, to their credit did not immediately try to kill me as obviously horror marked, we all performed adequately and the voices said to gather around the altar. As soon as we did this some kind of magical bolt of lighting shot out from the rod atop the sphere and struck us. Trusting, perhaps foolishly in the voices, we all accepted the spell and were whisked away into the kaer.

There we were met by a delegation that performed their own greeting rituals and we introduced ourselves. After that we relayed what news we could of the world outside, got Master Cragdigger to meet the kaer leadership forged ties of trade and all that. I did make sure that the people of the salt cellar understood how valuable their salt was to Throal before the merchant arrived so that they would not be taken advantage of. For their part the folks of the kaer explained how their defences hinged on an algae that gave the astral plane the appearance of heavy corruption, making the area look like it had already been ravaged by the horrors.

The last thing of note on this journey was that, as we started to make our way back, the caravan was attacked again, this time by a number of Bonecracker nymphs that had been nesting somewhere in the plain, which we dispatched with no trouble.

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