Sailors on the Starless Sea.   Posted by Autarch.Group: 0
Gethin Ballider
 player, 1269 posts
 +15, d10+7; Ins26, Per19
 AC26, F20, R19, W21
Sat 22 Jun 2013
at 17:06
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
Despite his expressed desire to make a name for himself, Virgil finds himself a little reluctant at being singled out to take point.  He can't argue that the method was unfair, though, so he slowly leads the group forward, using all his trapping skill to read what he can of the ground in front of them.

Milton follows Finn's lead and picks up a heavy stick for himself.  Dante helpfully passes Virgil an iron crowbar.  It was a little rusty, but still solid enough to wallop some unfortunate pate.

"A crowbar?"

"For smiting dragons.  Or opening stuck doors."

Virgil gives a grim chuckle.  "Again, you're a forester.  What are you doing with a crowbar?"

"Oh, I found it in the woods the other day.  It curves so gently at the neck, like She does, so I could not bear to part with it."

Thus armed, Virgil continues forward, hoping the others don't tarry too far behind.

========== OOC ==========
Virgil picks up 16 stones, will mark as "found stones" in case they have penalties.

Dante gives crowbar to Virgil.  Milton gets stick.

Virgil Perception d20+0 = 9

This message was last edited by the player at 17:07, Sat 22 June 2013.

Autarch
 GM, 2460 posts
Sun 23 Jun 2013
at 03:50
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
"Gosh 'armpit," the septuagenarian+10 exclaims. "Plausibility. There's got to be plausibility. You'll never be a rumormonger, let alone a harbinger of doom if you don't salt your meat."

Brothers in chaos ruled the keep,
Untold beasts they molded as clay.

Brothers to men besieged the keep
For thirty-nine and then one more day.

One fell into his tomb to be, the keep.
The other shed his shell for the dark gods.

One thousand years later: the ruinous keep.
And a promise to keep, a promise to keep.


The old man flaps his jaws a few times unconvincingly.
Autarch
 GM, 2461 posts
Sun 23 Jun 2013
at 04:08
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
From its current position, the group can discern that the keep’s walls rise 30 feet from their rammed earth embankments. The walls and all the fallen stones are covered in a patchwork of moss, sickly vines, and lichen. Rather than simple carved blocks, the keep seems to have been built of enormous standing stones and mighty dolmens. The blocks are fitted together crudely, leaving cracks between the stones for rotting vegetation and pools of water that act as host to the gnats and mosquitoes.

Thus the parsnip farmer invokes the dictate of fate, and what more can one man (or more precisely 14 men and one woman) expect to bear besides that? He advances ahead of the group to discover possible approaches.

10 feet. 20 feet. 30 feet. And then 100 more.

There appears to be three ways to go: around the left towards the heavily damaged western wall, straight up the causeway to the gatehouse, and around the right alongside the eastern wall (with cleverness getting you nowhere).
Udly
 player, 5 posts
Mon 24 Jun 2013
at 02:27
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
Finn the Taxman surveys the keep from a distance and comments, "Well, no need to get cute. My vote is to use the most sensible approach: right up the middle."

Nyll the Dwarven Miner throws up a single fist in reproach, "Ut, ut, ut. Not so fast Finn. How about you let a miner do what he is good at, and examine this stonework for any signs of imminent collapse!"

Jobb the Elven Glassblower did not want to be one-upped by his companions. He desperately tried to find a way to contribute. He fumbled around with his sack of glass beads for a moment. Nothing. He had nothing.

Nyll paces toward the western wall, gatehouse and eastern wall to determine whether any of them exhibited indications of structural collapse. Of course, the west wall looked rough, but how about the other two approaches?

This message was last edited by the player at 02:28, Mon 24 June 2013.

Josh
 player, 3 posts
Mon 24 Jun 2013
at 02:42
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
Arnie, familiar enough with the depths of shit to know when he's descending, looks at the gatehouse and says nervously Do you think there might be anyone still manning it?
Gethin Ballider
 player, 1270 posts
 +15, d10+7; Ins26, Per19
 AC26, F20, R19, W21
Mon 24 Jun 2013
at 04:10
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
Milton takes advantage of the pause to sit on his chest and catch his breath.  He closes his eyes, then recites,

"One Gate there only was, and that look'd East
On th' other side: which when th' arch-fellon saw
Due entrance he disdaind, and in contempt,
At one slight bound high over leap'd all bound
Of Hill or highest Wall, and sheer within
Lights on his feet."


Virgil, meanwhile, is chewing the inside of his lip.  "I think that arch-fellow is smart to disdain the obvious entrance.  It might be watched, like this man here says."  He nods to Arnie.

"The arch-fellon is the Great Enemy, Virgil.  He shuns the gate only because it invites entry."

"And this gate does not," Dante interjects.  "So if the proper use of an inviting gate is to be entered through, the proper use of a menacing gate is to be gone around."

The three poets agree: avoid the gatehouse, and examine the damaged western wall for some less obvious entrance.

This message was last edited by the player at 04:10, Mon 24 June 2013.

Josh
 player, 4 posts
Mon 24 Jun 2013
at 13:46
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
Felix gives Milton a quizzical glance and says You can just give a straight answer if someone asks you a question, right?  Because if you see a dragon around a corner and I ask you what's there, I don't want to hear no hundred page epic while it has time to come up and eat us!
Autarch
 GM, 2464 posts
Tue 25 Jun 2013
at 00:47
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
Professionally, Nyll detaches himself from the others and picks his way along the approach to the western wall, giving the gatehouse and western's counterpart a wide berth. He steps through tall grasses and scattered debris until he's close enough for a proper examination.

While anyone could fathom that the keep’s massive wall has collapsed here, spilling cyclopean stone blocks down the rocky slope, with the blocks being precariously balanced atop one another, like a titan’s game of dice, a stone hewer could thread his way past one teetering dolmen and then another. He would even verily discover himself on the other side as if has leaped from one to the other.

OOC Nyll can guide the entire group into the "safety" of the courtyard via this approach.

OOC Again Knowing this, does Nyll still wish to measure the other two approaches, one at a time?

This message had punctuation tweaked by the GM at 00:48, Tue 25 June 2013.

Udly
 player, 7 posts
Tue 25 Jun 2013
at 01:50
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
Nyll stooped down to examine a deep fracture running up the spine of a massive stone column. Exhaling between his teeth he comments lowly, "Well folks, no danger here if you know how to read stone. Fortunately, this is something I know. Shall we proceed this way, the less traveled path to gain a measure of surprise?"

Nyll volunteers to lead the way, if needed. He will even begin edging them that way, quite proud of his ability to contribute to the group's modest beginning.
Autarch
 GM, 2465 posts
Tue 25 Jun 2013
at 04:46
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
With Nyll beckoning, you depart the old dirt road, now overrun with weeds and sickly vines, which rises towards the ruined citadel and instead swing to the left. You are pleased to be moving for the mosquitoes and black flies enjoyed having stationary targets, more than a few having burrowed contentedly behind a villager's bun.

It's not until after all of you have completed the passage from outside to inside that the miner reveals that even one misstep or stumble could have caused the entire stone conclave to crash down, a veritable avalanche.

One of you pretends to dismiss the real possibility, "We weren't going to prove that codger right so easily as all that."

The courtyard is overgrown with sickly weeds and thick brambles. A deathly silence hangs in the air, as if even the frogs and insects are afraid to draw attention to themselves.

The smell of rotting vegetation is pervasive, and the ground sucks at your boots with every tentative step. Nearly all of the courtyard’s buildings have fallen into ruin. A single burnt-out shell set against the keep’s east wall is the only remaining structure. Set near the heart of the courtyard is a well, framed with a crude pulley system. To the east is the keep’s sole standing tower.


And, of course, to the south the keep's gatehouse still stands as well. The courtyard appears to be deserted.

 

This message was last edited by the GM at 18:13, Tue 25 June 2013.

Levkojen
 player, 307 posts
 Nearer, My God, to Thee!
Tue 25 Jun 2013
at 07:33
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
Sidd's eyes scour over the vast ruin. ''Hmm. If our fears prove right and someone is lying in ambush in the gatehouse, I'd suggest turning the tables on them now? Sneaking close and seeing if someone's there and our worries were justified, and jump any miscreants if they were.''

''A devious plan,'' Zar chimes in. ''I use to employ similar tactics to get the drop on my parsnips. Tricky opponents, parsnips. Doggedly and obstinate, and more sly than many would suspect. Let me ask Nefertiti about it.''
He pulls back a bit of sack cloth from a bundle he has been wearing under his arm all the time. A bald hen stretches its head out of it. ''Gaaawk? Gawk ak ak.''
Zar begins to chat up the chicken, though it's not quite clear wether he's asking her about the gatehouse or the trickery of parsnips.

Del views Zar and Nefertiti with renewed interest, realizing she's quite hungry and smacking her lips.
Autarch
 GM, 2467 posts
Wed 26 Jun 2013
at 02:34
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
It had been a touchy business, real touch and go, conveying Milton's chest over one vertiginously balanced dolmen and then to the side of another. In the end, the sixteen of you had formed a human centipede, if one discounts the missing 84 sections, to propel the bastion of hope forward. If one of the sixteen had muttered something about dropping the whole business down the well, no one admitted as much. It certainly wouldn't have been one of the Brothers of Another Mother who had skinned his knee viciously on a jag of rock.

With Nefertiti, the Hen of the Nile, assenting, or at least choosing not to abstain, Sidd and Zar approach the gatehouse:

The dark, moss-eaten gatehouse towers above you, grim and forbidding. Murder holes, fashioned in the likeness of looming toads, threaten to gout forth flaming oil and tar. Black arrow slits pierce the high stone walls. You can hear the flap of the heretical banner above, hidden from sight by the vine-draped battlements.

The ancient drawbridge (still visible from the interior) has long since fallen away into ruin, leaving only a few rotting planks placed across the ditch. The heavy iron portcullis stands half-raised, the rusty spikes a mere four feet above slots cut into the stone floor.


From above them in the gatehouse, Sidd and Zar hear the snuffling of breath and the scuffing of lower extremities. However, there is no access presently to the house itself.
Udly
 player, 8 posts
Wed 26 Jun 2013
at 03:02
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
The Brothers of Another cling closely to the west wall's interior as Sidd and Zar approach the gatehouse.

Each, in turn, glances about for any possible portals which might grant access to the moathouse.
Levkojen
 player, 308 posts
 Nearer, My God, to Thee!
Wed 26 Jun 2013
at 07:56
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
Sidd and Zar hurry back to the relative safety of the group. ''There are some people around in the gatehouse! We heard vile breathing and the steps of feet. How to roust them though? Seems like the only access might be along the top of the wall and the east tower. Let's head over there? And maybe look into that burned-out building on our way.'' ''Gaawk ak ak.''


OOC: By the way, what's that pool in the northeast, swallowing a big part of the wall and the tower in that part?
Josh
 player, 6 posts
Wed 26 Jun 2013
at 14:44
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
I was going to suggest that too, Dave says, trying hard to sound like he meant it and wasn't just copying off of the thinkers.  With his bow and an arrow in hand, he gestures toward the other building and says Lead the way.
Autarch
 GM, 2468 posts
Wed 26 Jun 2013
at 16:46
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
To get into the moat house, you'd have to get onto the keep walls themselves, presumably through stairs in the southeastern tower, should they still be serviceable.

So various members of the group trundle towards the smoking building to the east and the one extant tower to the southeast while others mill about Milton's chest stupidly, not quite sure what to with themselves but glad that they haven't been eaten before lunchtime.

This once-proud edifice has fallen into ruin like the rest of the keep. All that remains of the building are fire-scarred high stone walls and toad-faced gargoyles leering from above. The singed, bronze doors—cast with hundreds of wailing demonic faces—are barred from the outside. The portal is marked with a single word drawn in flaking red paint: REPENT.

where as the other landmark...

Flanked by crumbling stone walls, the moss-covered tower stands proud despite the ravages of time. A tall, rust-bound portal bars the tower’s sole entrance, watched over by a leering demonic gargoyle. Rings of deep arrow slits pierce the thick walls, and overarching battlements loom high above.

OOC Lev, that pool appears to be a massive sinkhole which hasn't been investigated yet (the same of which can be said for other courtyard features).

OOC Josh, d4 missiles at d6 each.
Levkojen
 player, 309 posts
 Nearer, My God, to Thee!
Wed 26 Jun 2013
at 18:41
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
While Sidd stares at the intricate weave of demons worked into the singed bronze doors and fumbles with their bars, Del breaks away and approaches the well. The hidden depths it might harbor provide a near mesmeric attraction for the most reluctant of the three prophets.
Meanwhile Zar and Nefertiti go investigating the cess pool.
Josh
 player, 7 posts
Wed 26 Jun 2013
at 19:34
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
Looking over the facade of the smoking building, Arnie gulps and says Has anyone actually seen tracks or anything to indicate that the missing people are here?  Because I certainly wouldn't want to disturb anything, er, anyone, if we don't need to.

Dave responds by elbowing his companion in the ribs and saying Quit being such a bloody coward, mate.  We came to vanquish evil, and we're going to vanquish whatever evil we find, even if it's just tangential evil.  It's not clear how much effect his pep talk has, but at least it shuts Arnie up for a minute.
Gethin Ballider
 player, 1271 posts
 +15, d10+7; Ins26, Per19
 AC26, F20, R19, W21
Wed 26 Jun 2013
at 21:22
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
The poets stare at the command -- REPENT -- for a moment.  A fierce light burns in Milton's eyes; Dante bows his head in deep thought and humility; Virgil seems unimpressed.

"If there are people in the gatehouse, we should scout that first," Virgil suggests.

Milton shakes his head and points to the tower door.  "Look at the rust.  We'll be lucky  we'll get this open without alerting the gatehouse."

"The pilgrim must pass through repentance before he can ascend," Dante says.  "Let's try the smokehouse."

The other two seem agreeable to this, so the poets make quizzical expressions to the others to see how they wish to proceed.

This message was last edited by the player at 21:22, Wed 26 June 2013.

Autarch
 GM, 2469 posts
Thu 27 Jun 2013
at 01:37
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
Led thither by his destiny, Del contemplates the near sublimity of the well:

A barren ridge of black stone rises from the overgrown courtyard. A low stone wall marked with eerie sigils is built atop the crest of the stone, marking a well. A stout block and tackle frame supports a single thick chain that plunges into the inky blackness.

A locksmith, Del can't comprehend the eldritch markings though the concept of a well is simple enough.

Led thither by their destiny, man and bird investigate the collapsed ground:

A yawning sinkhole has devoured nearly a third of the courtyard, causing a tower and wall to collapse and plunge down into the depths. Mist billows up from the sinkhole, obscuring sight.

Nef, always pecking, pecks with greater urgency at Zar's hand and wrist. Either she's craving her second breakfast or she's balking at the billowing mists and plunging depths. Zar, with his calloused hands and wrists, might not notice either way.

A few loiterers pause to inspect the ground and discover a muddy trail leading from the gatehouse through the brambles to the south tower with a small side trail running to Del's well.

As for the muddy prints, they indicate a wide variety of creatures: human footprints, the tracks of large creatures with only three toes, hawk-like talons, and perhaps even the slithering trail of an enormous snake.

And then time slows, falters even. Sidd lifts the great wooden beam barring the door. Cooly, he pulls the enormous rings held within the maws of two fiendish demons to draw open the bronze portals:

Six charred skeletons lie about the chapel, some crushed by burnt fallen beams. At the head of the chapel is a fountain depicting a squat, demonic toad. A foul, black ichor seeps from the toad’s broad lips, pooling in the basin seated at the foot of the fountain.


Time stops. What do those near the chapel wish to do?

This message was last edited by the GM at 02:54, Thu 27 June 2013.

Udly
 player, 9 posts
Thu 27 Jun 2013
at 03:20
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
Seeing the fallen beams, Nyll looks around the room for any signs that the building is prone to collapse.

Meanwhile, the other brothers seem mesmerized by the toad statue and more specifically the vile liquid oozing from its mouth. Neither are brave enough to approach just yet. For the moment, they attempt to puzzle together what the liquid might be? Tar?

OOC: What does the room smell like?

21:17, Today: Udly rolled 14 using 1d20. skill check: mining.

Levkojen
 player, 310 posts
 Nearer, My God, to Thee!
Thu 27 Jun 2013
at 19:16
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
Del leans wide over the abyss of the well, trying to peer into the depths, but her own head is blocking off the daylight and foiling her attempts. ''Hmph.'', she says.
Curious she traces the mystic markings with her fingers, and then time seems to stop.

Zar chuckles. ''Yes, Nef, I know. Evil lurks behind the mists of this hole. Oh, I know, I know. Psssssht.'' He nods to his hen, joyfully excited, and then returns to his friends to share the good news. Because where there is evil, mankind has to grow beyond itself and discover goodness. And then time seems to stop.

Hell harbors no terror for Sidd, secure in his knowledge that everything moves in circles and that no demon can harm someone truly enlightened. After having opened the bronze doors and looking over the charred remains of the supposed demon worshippers, Sidd steps over the bones toward the altar.
His ditch digging senses are kicking in though. When surrounded over the head by walls of mud and liquid shit, you have to step carefully if you don't want to be buried...
Josh
 player, 8 posts
Fri 28 Jun 2013
at 14:17
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
Dave and Felix head inside to look over the skeletons and see if they hold any clues as to their previous identities (a shred of clothing, perhaps, or maybe a scroll with an official seal preserved inside a fireproof case).  Arnie, meanwhile, bravely stands guard outside the door, ready to shout an alarm at the first sign of danger.
Autarch
 GM, 2473 posts
Fri 28 Jun 2013
at 17:42
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
Sidd, Nyll, Finn, Jobb, Dave, and Felix all brave the dark chapel. Their ears prick as they hear the crackling of cinders, and their soles flush with the heat of the blackened earth. Arnie's the only who could stand the reek of the place without grimacing; it's like a charnel house with the cloying scent of sour incense. The incense only reminds everybody there is something they'd rather not be smelling.

But that doesn't stop Dave and Felix from getting to work. Felix stoops and tentatively handles a still mostly whole ulna -- hot, hot, hot! He flicks the bone to the side in a disruption of glowing red cinders and ash. When it has settled, he spies a chain hauberk, scorched but certainly serviceable. Dave joins the search and finds another, along with several weapons, still in bony clutches: a mace and a flail.

With eyes excited to the possibilities, the others spot another hauberk-clad skeleton by the altar, this one holding a mace. And the altar! The frog fountain has red gemstones for eyes and jeweled fangs within its capacious maw. Ten feet from the fountain, Sidd halts as he feels the heat emanate from it.

Hanging from a long, bronze chain a few feet to his right is a golden censer.

Milton casually joins the others and smacks his foot against something hard.

Meanwhile, the miner assures everybody that the building looks to be sound, structurally anyway.
Josh
 player, 11 posts
Sat 29 Jun 2013
at 00:16
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
I don't recommend touching anything in here, sirs.  Kryt-amun, the odd-looking local man who arrived with the "red dwarf" militiamen, finally speaks up from just inside the doorway.  Later, perhaps, but not now.  We should at least give everything time to cool down.  And this looks like the sort of place that might carry a curse, so it might be better not to make direct contact with anything even then.  Especially anything valuable.

Cursed?, Arnie asks skeptically.  Don't be ridiculous.  This place might be reputed to be haunted, and it might be the final resting place of gobs of folks who've gone missing under mysterious circumstances, and it might even be some sort of shrine to a foul toad god, but none of that says cursed now, does it?

Arnie continues to stand there indignantly for another three or four seconds, then says in a less steady voice Has anyone had a good look at the well?  There might be something hiding in there, or something...  He trails off as he walks from the door of the shrine to the well in the middle of the courtyard.  He has made some distance before he is willing to turn his back to the shrine, and even then he repeatedly throws suspicious glances over his shoulder.