With a concussive blow that could easily be felt in your chest, the pair of five ton, fully metallic wyvern constructs touched down, crumpling part of the bows and upper hull of the stoutly built ship. Cowering below in the shadows, the party readies such defences that come to hand. Hailing us from above, the beast’s riders dismount: ‘we know you’re in there-come out now!’
‘I am the Lord of Blades, and my companion here is Metalbeard. These are my lands, my dominion. Slaves of New Cyre, you trespass here. Swiftly now, give your reason for coming or face the consequences. Step out and be judged.’
Our little metal friends Ginson and Sprox go to parlay-and as the story comes out it’s like some gathering of the toasters-beep boop crackle. Even after all these years it’s a little hard to take warforged seriously, however seriously that they may take themselves. Turns out this guy is some kind of guerrilla leader/freedom fighter/homesteader. A standard around which a tiny community of constructs has accreated, here in the haunted wastes. Metalbeard is his wife, or something? It’s all a little confusing.
We are politely and firmly invited to come to the base, which happens to be on the site of Princess Michon’s abduction. Funny that, but WTF, right?
The Lord of Blades: ‘we may have work for you…’
Imagine the raggedy post-apocalypse survivors defending the oil wells in the Road Warrior, with Mel Gibson. That’s these guys. Tattered plastic tarps stretched over battered aluminum poles are shelter. Dust and wind sweep past idle and forlorn figures clutching their improvised dart guns, feathers and bones adorning their figures. Standing out from all this desperation and squalor are several figures. The wyverns, which these lost souls actually built (!), half forged weirdos covered in poorly healed incisions, scabs and the blush of infection where construct uncleanly mates with flesh, and T2 herself: some kind of advanced model of fembot. All curves, inscrutable, flowing metal. Every man’s fantasy made real. She hangs back, discreet and aloof while we are interrogated.
The deal is that this is the in between time. The time of a new beginning, where the rule of flesh has been cast down, giving opportunity for a new order of life. A rational society, a utopia for the survivors, a place of refuge for former slaves, for the former Warforged of Cyre. Together we will rise up, YOU HAVE A PERSONAL FRIEND WITH JESUS! etc.
Well, except for this terrible rash on the balls of the new community: demons that attack with deadly regularity and effect. Some idiot put the parish right on top of a rift to Hel, evidently. Oh, and that’s YOUR JOB to go and fix. Oh and you need to leave right now, because the next attack comes like clockwork, just hours from now! Think of the children!
So, of course we go, right?
We have been here before. Years ago. She fell, right there. He took her. The abduction. The Elven warlock. He took her, then jumped. Down a bottomless chasm in the earth. That’s where we have to follow. A little late. Eighty years late.
We are introduced to the Culture below. Their representative, a scaly, weasley, stinking Kobold ushers us into the presence of their Queen, Beatrice.
‘Sister!’ Damocles cries out in Draconic…‘Finally something worth fighting for! I would spend my life to help your people-for the incursion troubles you here as well? With the assistance and guidance of the Dark Mother, the Devourer, Queen Tiamat, I pledge to personally ingest those that trouble your charming community!’
With kind words and a 3’-5" Kobold shaman named ‘Grrrsssst-Ahhhht’ we are lead to the elevator. Clever and with many machines the Kobolds are! We enter the cage of the lift.
‘Watch out for the spiders!’ the Queen calls out. Damocles suggests we pay them passage: meat, live meat? Sure enough, livestock are raised by these underdark folk, deep in the greasy turns of the earth-some kind of filthy disgusting maggot the size of a small terrestrial dog. Slopping and noisome the creatures writhe about our feet in the tiny conveyance as we are slowly lowered into the depths of the chasm.
Sure enough, we find webs and spiders in the deep places of the earth. The spiders are as big as Volkswagens and the webs wide enough to ride a horse on. The spiders teleport and hiss and chant during the transaction that buys our passage: Lal lal! The Black Goat with a thousand young! Atlath-Nacha! Lal lal! The Black Goat with a thousand young! Narlothetep! Shub-Niggurath!
The End of the Tether.
Somewhere below the bottom of the lift was our goal. Amid the sulfurous fume and devils glare of the earth’s angry molten stuff, we passed into Khyber’s realm. A fey land of trickery, fell magics, and corruption. Beyond hope, beyond the memory of light, life. A place of sudden death. Below we could just make out a portal in the endless chasm wall. We could just reach it, if we took care and roped up.
The decent was good. The cavern beyond smallish, full of odd cocoons and spider stuff. And a portal, a big one. Our objective? We get to work with the ritual. Our diminutive Koblod companion (who ends up saving the day) gets on with the task of sealing the portal, somehow coaxing the very stone of the walls over the demon’s point of egress.
Moments later, we are confronted by a familiar face, sort of. Well the face anyway. The body is a really big, shiny black spider, with the torso, arms and head of that Elven spellcaster! He is quite the boss monster, too. He deploys minions, spells and evasion, to no avail. He falls just like all the rest, and Damocles takes a bite out of his liver, as is her custom.
Concealed nearby are several troubling objects: the dessicated corpse of Princess Michon, and some kind of horrible, pulsating sac…an egg sack?
An Unclean Birth.
Moments later, pus and liquid filth cascade from the leathery man-sized egg case glued to the column, splashing our clothes, boots and hair. Landing with a wet thud and streaming with the unclean waters of birth, a fully grown form weakly rises.
’I’m Kale, uhh…and welcome to my gestation chamber!’
We resolve to take them both to the surface.
Up top, we find the mists of the Mourning closing in fast as whatever was holding the Effect at bay collapses. In the distance and at speed, we see the Cyran air car shrinking in to collect us. In the nick of time, we jump aboard and dust off, leaving the half-forged half-wits to their certain doom.